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Lisa Jackson

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Suzann Ledbetter
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Fifteen or twenty minutes of intense Website surfing suggests that biographical segments are usually devoted to former vocations, titles published and awards won. The latter two categories seem redundant to additional electronic buttonry labeled Book List, to homepages advertising current tomes, and mentions elsewhere of honors bestowed, humbly received and treasured in perpetuity. As for the former, having not been gainfully employed in return for weekly paychecks since 1976, I assume a brief, intervening stint as a water-filled shoe insole salesperson doesn't rank right up there with the legions of doctors-, lawyers-, educators-, captains of industry-, or CIA operatives-turned-scribes. Second to vocational pursuits are avocations, which for others range from gardening, needle-arts, molecular biology and NASCAR fanatacism to scuba-diving, astronomy, world travel, and running for miles absent a pack of rabid wolves snapping at one's heels. The fiction writer in me yearns to invent hobbies of that ilk, as one would attribute to a novel's protagonist to make him or her interesting. The nonfiction side advises the truth, or an interpretation of it based on available research. My inner humorist struggles to keep a straight face. Henry David Thoreau disparaged the unexamined life as unworthy of sustained respiration. Valid or not, I'll give it a whirl . . .. When I'm not writing or speaking about writing, I'm either reading, or asleep. I adore my husband and most of the time, our children. Our basic 3bd./2 ba. home is shared with two greyhounds, two fat, hirsute cats and thousands of books--the majority shelved and probably having a scoliotic effect on the floor joists and foundation. At work or during recess, I drink too much coffee, alternating with room-temperature Cokes slugged straight from the bottles. Caffeine, for me, is its own food group and when focused on what I'm writing, suffices for the chewable variety I'm too distracted or lazy to prepare. Habitual meal-skipping isn't recommended, but in theory, should be a literal lean cuisine. Alas, it is not. Finishing a book, fiction or non-, induces a compulsion to rearrange the furniture. Or move. Why, I'll leave to mental health professionals. I suspect it seems easier to Dumpster the crap accumulated over the longish haul and transport items dear to my heart somewhere new and unsullied, than to clean what months of neglect hath wrought. All in all, I suppose sedate is a nice term for this life as lived and breathed. From an exterior perspective, boring might be more appropos. An observer couldn't comprehend any better than I can explain what it is to ply a keyboard and metamorphose into whomever I want--real or imagined--residing wherever I so desire, in whatever era I choose. For richer, for poorer, for better, worse and downright tragic, until deadlines do us part. If life and a livelihood get any better than that, I'm not aware of it. Nor, upon fleet examination, would I trade a minute of mine for someone else's better paid, cooler, infinitely more exciting and nutritious one. In many respects, being a writer is a job, like any other. Except it isn't what I do. It's who I am.

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