The Writer’s Life with Author Lisa (L.D.) Harkrader

Lisa Harkrader

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A writer’s life isn’t glamorous (although you do stumble upon a glamorous moment here and there), and it’s not as carefree and endlessly creative as it may seem. But I wouldn’t trade it for any other life.

I start my day at about 5:30 each morning. This first bit is completely unglamorous: I take my dogs outside to potty, then wrangle my kids out of bed and get them off to school. Then I make a pot of coffee (my son, who is an incredibly insightful gift giver, gave me a coffee maker for my office for Christmas last year, so now I don’t even have to trek back and forth to the kitchen for my caffeine fix) and settle down to work.

Here’s where I need to make a case for a pleasant work space. I used to have an office in our tiniest bedroom, a space hardly bigger than a closet. It was filled with shelves and books and piles of cra—er, research and my big bulky desk. There was exactly enough room left over for me to sit in my desk chair, as long as I didn’t go crazy and try to swivel. The room was in the back of the house, cut off from civilization, with only one very narrow window. When I ventured back there to write, I felt like I’d sentenced myself to the dungeon.

A year ago, I decided I couldn’t take it any more. I threw out the desk, the shelves, the piles of, um, research, culled the books, and moved my office downstairs to an alcove off our family room. I love it. It’s open and light and clean. I have a sink, a small refrigerator, the aforementioned coffee pot, and a large framed Beatles Abbey Road poster on the wall behind my computer for inspiration. I also have a new desk: sleek, metal and glass, with no shelves or drawers to accumulate clutter. Now, instead of trudging to the dungeon, I trip downstairs each morning, ready to work.

Well, ready to check my email, then work.

Mornings are my most productive time, and I usually work nonstop until lunch, which can happen at pretty much any time. On days when I’m frustrated, can’t figure out what I’m doing, am slogging along, I hear the refrigerator call my name by about 9:30 a.m. On days when the writing is going well, I’m focused and can’t be bothered to stop, I hear my son rattle through the door after school and realize it’s 3:00 p.m. and I’ve forgotten to eat.

In a writer’s life—or at least, in my writer’s life—no two days are the same. When I’m under a looming deadline, I write late into the night, then get up early the next day to write some more before the kids get up. When I do a school visit or attend a writerly event, such as a conference or awards banquet (those are the glamorous moments I was talking about), I get little writing done, if any. Some days the loneliness of writing overwhelms me. On those days, I whisper a little thank you to the geniuses who invented laptops and take my iBook to a coffee shop or bookstore so that I can write without feeling cut off from other people. About once a week a friend and I get together for a write-in. We meet at a wi-fi café, order something delicious for lunch, and sit side-by-side with our laptops, writing the afternoon away.

It’s not glamorous. Some would even call it dull. But it’s exactly the life I’ve always want to lead.


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