Hearing my Thoughts
Before the pandemic, the answer was anywhere I could squeeze in five, ten, bless me!, a heavenly thirty minutes. Running my kids around seemed like a full-time job. So…I wrote in a coffee shop on rare occasions (I tend to be a people watcher…and eavesdropper—phone conversations are often fascinating).
I’ve written in the waiting room at the doctor's office, from the lounger at the community swimming pool because I tucked in my trusty pen and notepad into the pool bag, and on my phone in the Trader Joe's parking lot. One of my favorite and consistent spots was the front seat of the car during my kids’ Shakespeare rehearsals. Those evenings, I could usually bang out around a thousand words on my laptop in the blessed cone of silence.
But those days are behind us for a time, and the kids are home. That, in itself, isn’t the challenge. My kids range from seventeen to ten and…here’s the kicker…each has a different school schedule. The only day they all attend class is Monday. The rest of the week can be a free-for-all.
Oh, yes, I have an office. It’s one of the largest rooms in the house. My husband lovingly crafted a desk, staining it the exact espresso shade I adore. I have a fantastic view of the Sangre de Cristo foothills, behind the ragged Chamisa we haven’t had the heart to cut down because I enjoy the twittering birds who nest in it each year and, in the spring and summer, butterflies that drift through its branches.
We repainted the room a soft, warm beige. The natural light spills across the bookshelf my husband built to showcase my books, some treasured items, and our eldest child's latest crocheted creations. My chair is ergonomic. The brick floors are heated, which is a treat during the winter months.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? I rarely write there. Well, sometimes, first thing in the morning, before everyone else is awake, I’ll take my coffee in there and enjoy the sunrise as I attempt an early-morning writing sprint.
The space is fabulous—absolutely fantastic!—and I share it with my husband. I am also the owner of the laptop (he works on a desktop), so, being the more mobile of us, I’m the one who chose to move out. Don’t get me wrong: he’s a wonderful man. But sharing a space can lead to its own set of issues—like when he needs to talk to a client or wants to listen to his headphones at (what seems to me to be) top volume. Bottom line: I write better when my space is quiet.
This is my quirk, and I'm leaning further into it now that I write full-time. Can I write while listening to music? Yes. Can I sit in the middle of the noisy living room and write steamy scenes of couples falling in love? I can. Have I crafted heart-pounding escapes with a kid’s head in my lap, chattering at me about her latest obsession: a blue-tongued skink? Checked that one, too.
But here’s the deal: I like to actually hear my own thoughts. I also prefer to avoid a wet doggy nose on my screen, cute as Ash is.
So, often, I retreat to my bedroom with my laptop. Since the pandemic began, I’ve enjoyed moments, sometimes hours of solitude, in my otherwise rambunctious house where the teens are in and out of the kitchen at all hours and the TV is blaring anything from The Good Place to Pokémon.
I’ve reoriented my days so that I close the door in the early afternoon and try hard to dismiss social media and email, kids’ lessons, and whatever else the world throws at me.
I do love my office—don’t get me wrong. It is a fabulous space. But, for me, I choose to write while ensconced under my duvet with silence punctuated by the frenetic joy of my day-to-day.
USA Today bestseller Alexa Padgett’s books have garnered accolades from prestigious organizations, including Kirkus Reviews, National Indie Excellence Awards, and Publishers Weekly.
Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all–at least for a while. And she does in her books.
She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.