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  • Leisa Stewart-Sharpe

There's no right place to write

Lots of people think that to be a writer you need to have an amazing writing space. Like a cabin at the end of the garden, with chintzy curtains hanging from the window. My writing reality is far less romantic, but it works – and that’s what matters.

I write here. . . while my kids are in the bath. (And even sometimes when I’m in the bath. Did you know crime writer Agatha Christie used to write in the bath too, crunching away on apples?)


I write in the car while I’m sat outside the school. I won’t have my laptop, so I’ll end up writing on maps, car user manuals and sometimes right up the inside of my arm.

I write in bed, when I’m supposed to be sleeping but my mind is wide awake. (Lying down is a very good way to write as it puts you into that dream-state where you’re a bit awake, a bit asleep. . . and anything is possible.)

Because that’s the thing about writing – for me it’s as involuntary as breathing. It happens whenever and wherever, and frankly doing it is what keeps me alive.

I do, in fact, have two desks. . .

This is my best desk in our box room-the office-guest room-my son B’s room (we’re a bit short on space). It's a lovely place to work, because I can look out of the window and watch the red kites swooping, or if I’m lucky I'll see the white barn owl land on the fence to hunt mice in the tall grass. I’ve written four books in this way, by the light of my bird lamp (can you tell I love birds?). I’ve two maps in this room, which is very useful when you’re writing non-fiction about our wonderful world. And for inspiration, I’m surrounded by treasures from my travels – can you spot my dolly from Madagascar and the one from Transylvania? I’m reluctantly letting my husband perch here while we work from home during the Corona virus. At night I sneak back in to brush his biscuit crumbs away and make the wobbly book pile neat again.

This is my other desk. . .

. . . in the corner of my bedroom where I’m working at the moment. I spotted it at the back of a little shop a few years ago. It was unloved, covered in piles of paper and definitely not for sale. But I think the man in the shop could see this desk and I belonged together. . . although my car boot didn’t agree. It's a Narnia desk. When I get up in the morning, I turn the key in the lock, the little door opens, and the desk unfolds along with a whole world of wonder waiting to be written down.

I guess the point is, you don’t need to be holed-up in an idyllic writing nook to be a real writer. Words will always find you, even if it you’re plonked on the linoleum bathroom floor. So what are you waiting for?

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