Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Viva Barkowski, author of A TWIST OF HATE, slated for release in 2015.

Welcome, Viva!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?


WW Author Pic

Author Viva Bartowski


Although a native Californian, I currently live in New England where I work full-time as a writer/editor. I have several published short stories, and my novel, A TWIST OF HATE, will be released in June 2015 by Gale Cengage/Five Star.

I write psychological thrillers. Unlike “big” thrillers, a psychological thriller delivers the excitement via the emotional states and psyches of the characters rather than action.

Oh, and if I have a hidden talent, it’s so hidden even I don’t know about it.




On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I always write at my desk, although as I mentioned, I edit on the move. Give me a clipboard and a red pen, and I’m good to go.

 WW Workspace_1


What you can’t see in photo 1 is that my office space is in my kitchen. So here’s another:

WW Workspace_2


2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

The desk was a gift. At the time, I was disappointed because it was so very small, but now that I live in 530 sq/ft, I appreciate the size. My workspace is relatively Spartan. I don’t have enough room for clutter, so arranging the space wasn’t an option. Things fit where they fit.

Writing is editing, and I usually edit on hardcopy with a red pen rather than at the computer. Sometimes I edit first thing in the morning while I’m still in bed—I call this BEDiting.  Other times I settle on the chaise in my miniscule living room where I can see out to the garden. Because I live right off the harbor, my favorite place to edit is sitting at the water’s edge—weather permitting. Following are a couple photos of my favorite editing spots:

WW EditingSpotHarbor




WW EditingSpotChaise



3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

A notepad, a copyholder, and near my desk, an Ikea Samtid lamp. I owned five Samtids before I moved but was only able to bring two with me. I also keep three crystals tucked under my monitor. One was a gift from my best friend. The other two were given to me by Salem witches. Since my current WIP is about a Salem witch, I keep them nearby for luck

The chest of drawers I use as a storage cabinet. It sits to the right of my desk and holds both my printers. It’s a cheapie my parents bought secondhand a zillion years ago for my older brothers’ bedroom. I don’t remember what color it was at the time. When my brothers moved out, I inherited their room and furniture. I painted the chest pink and white and stuck purple flower decals all over it. In my teens, I painted it a more subtle cream and brown and changed out the painted wooden knobs for white and gold. Fast-forward ten years to my first house. I stripped the paint, stained the chest bleached pearl, added new knobs, and stuck it in my Southwest-inspired guestroom. The chest journeyed with me unchanged to several states and multiple houses—until I moved to Atlanta and decided to use it for office supplies. I painted the chest black and replaced the knobs with brushed stainless drawer pulls. I’m not a hoarder, so this chest is one of very few items I have left from childhood. It holds many memories along with a truckload of office supplies.


4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

Since my desk is in the kitchen, I can wheel my chair to the refrigerator and retrieve a beverage without ever having to stand. I mean, seriously, how cool is that?


5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Water. Either filtered plain water or Sparkling Ice spring water. I don’t drink coffee, and while I do drink alcohol, I don’t drink while I’m writing. I’ve tried Hemingway’s “write drunk, edit sober.” Doesn’t work for me, although there are days I wish it did.

 WW FavoritePic

With my pup, d’Artagnan—better known as d’Arty

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I read widely and admire many authors, it’s impossible to name just one. As far as inspiration, I think Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine (excluding her Wexford novels) were most instrumental in nudging me toward psychological thrillers. I may be atypical in that most of my favorite writers don’t write my genre.


2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

No rituals, but I prefer editing during the day and writing at night—usually between 9 pm and 4 am. I got in the habit of writing during the wee hours back when seemingly everyone in my coastal California subdivision decided to replace their siding the same year. The pounding nearly drove me crazy. I discovered that I loved writing in the absolute quiet with everyone around me asleep. I often get up early and edit, then take a nap in the afternoon so I can stay awake at night and write.


3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I write OR edit everyday, and while I try to put in a minimum of three hours, it’s usually eight to ten with three hours of output. *laughing* Email and Facebook are my biggest distractions.


4. Why do you write?

I’ve always written. And while I am free to choose whether to seek publication or to write for myself, I can’t choose NOT to write. Writing is part of who I am.


5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Decide what you want from writing. If your primary goal is to be published, I don’t care what anyone tells you, it’s not all about the writing. Don’t let others make you feel guilty about writing for the market. That said, if you do choose this path, be savvy and do your research first. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be published, be proud of your goal.

 If, on the other hand, you’re like me, and you write because you want to express feelings, emotion, and themes through story, and publication is important, but not at the expense of telling yourstory, then write what you feel. Write what only you can write. Writing is your art. Don’t forfeit your one chance to tell the story that only you can tell.


My favorite quote would is considered blasphemy by most writers, and I have no idea who actually said it, but here it is: “Write like no one is reading.”



Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Viva!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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29 Responses to “Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski”

  1. Wow, her writing space is neat. And I could handle a view of the harbor.

  2. Love Viva’s house and views. And D’Arty is so cute.

  3. VR Barkowski says:

    Thanks, Natalie! My workspace is a little cramped, but I love my location.

    VR Barkowski

  4. […] extra post this week! Okay, more of a postette. Today, I’m over at The Writing Nut where Nutschell is interviewing me for her Wednesday Writer’s Workspace […]

  5. Holli says:

    What a beautiful room! I love the colour of the walls. Very cozy. Gorgeous views of the water too. I’d say it’s an inspiring space.

  6. Pat Hatt says:

    My ocd likes your writing space indeed, all nice and clean haha

  7. I’m so happy to see your real name here.

    Tell me more about this hidden talent….

    I love your reasons for writing. And I’m so impressed you moved to a new place so different from where you lived before. It seems to suit you.

    • VR Barkowski says:

      I love my location, and having less space definitely suits me. Without a house to maintain, I’ve found dozens of new ways to procrastinate about writing. :)

      As soon as I discover my hidden talent, you can bet I will post it everywhere!

  8. Denise Covey says:

    Hi Nutschell. Hi Viva! I love your workspace, and the view…hmmm…gorgeous. I love the dedication to show with your writing routine. I manage several hours daily during the school hols, but once term starts, that is drastically reduced.

    I wish you both the best.


    • VR Barkowski says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Denise! Writing full-time is easy. Having to fit writing around a job is not. That you’re able to write at all during the school year deserves praise.

  9. I loved seeing your space. When I first started writing fiction, my desk was in the kitchen. I rather enjoyed it :)

    There’s not a space for it in my current kitchen, or I’d seriously consider moving it in there now.

    I think your quote is great!

    Hi, Nutschell.

    • VR Barkowski says:

      I put the desk in the kitchen out of necessity, not realizing how convenient it would be. If I’m cooking, I can keep and eye on the meal and write at the same time. And could snacking get any easier? 😉

  10. Roland says:

    Hi, Viva! What a exquisite, Spartan living and writing space. I write in my Kitchen area, too. D’Arty is so loveable. Your harbor view is lovely. It is too hot usually for me to write by our lake or bayou. Best of luck in June, 20151

  11. LD Masterson says:

    Well, pooh. Blogger is being persnickety and won’t show me your photo’s today but I enjoyed the interview. I don’t think I could have my office in the kitchen. Being that close to the fridge and having no will power is a bad combination..

  12. VR Barkowski says:

    I confess I don’t keep near as many snack foods around as I used to, Linda—too much temptation. Of course, depending on one’s perspective, that may be a plus. :)

  13. I love the clean feel of your workspace Viva!

  14. mooderino says:

    Desk in the kitchen? Very handy for snacks. Maybe too handy… Very cool interview.


  15. I love the color of her workspace. I have a room that Temple Orange and it’s so restful that I can’t lie down in it or I fall asleep.

  16. VIVA! What an awesome first name!

    Your desk is sooooo neat. I guess one advantage to having a smallish work area is you’re kinda forced to keep clutter down to a minimum. I have a fairly large L-shaped desk, plus another more old-fashioned desk, and multiple bookcases and filing cabinets in my office, but it’s almost always cluttered. But, um… neatly cluttered, of course. Organized chaos.

    That little table beside the harbor would have to be one of the best places ever to write and/or edit. It’d take me a while to stop gazing out over the water, though.

  17. VR Barkowski says:

    I forgot to mention one of my “idiosyncrasies.” I can’t use a keyboard tray because I’m nearsighted, and keyboard trays put me too far from the monitor. My keyboard sucks up all the desk space. If I were still handling contracts and spreadsheets, I would go nuts with this set-up, but for writing it’s okay. :)

  18. Bob Stewart says:

    I loved this. I live in a cabana behind my son’s home and the cabana is about 600 square feet. I just moved in an turning it into home. Wonderful view of the pool, the hot tub and the big yard.
    I loved this blog and would like to contribute, if possible. Four nonefiction and three novels published by traditional and epublishing.

    • VR Barkowski says:

      I’m surprise at how much I enjoy living in a smaller footprint. Maintaining a big house is a lot of work and a lot of time, especially when one doesn’t need all that space.

      Bob, Nutschell Windsor authors this blog, and I’m sure she’ll see will see your comment and your interest. Thank you!

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