This week I interview talented New Zealand writer living in Paris, Lizzie Harwood, about life before and after writing, and our mutual obsession with Paris. From pink Mini Coopers to a school for creative inspiration—Lizzie isn’t afraid to dream big. We love that at lovewordsmusic.com.
You too can be part of the dream—leave a comment before Friday 20 June (5pm) and Lizzie will send one of you lucky things a signed copy of her book about feisty and fabulous women: Triumph: Collected Stories. Lizzie’s stories are read-past-midnight fantastic.
What do you do for a living?
I am an editor and writing coach for people all over the world. (big smile) And I publish my books.
Tell me about how you got into this kind of work? Did you study in this field?
I have a master’s in English Literature & Film Studies (Auckland Uni alum!) and I’ve kept learning through many programmes and workshops, particularly in script reading and development, journalism, and storytelling while living in Australia, London and Paris. A few years ago I set up my business to work for myself, which goes against the grain in France, but I love it.
Have you ever had a major career change? What and why?
Yes, I used to be a property manager in Asia. But that seven-year job didn’t feel like a career. I always thought I was a writer first, anything else second. It was a source of income. So my major career change has been launching the editing business and actually publishing my books. That’s been huge because I was too comfortable as a little-published writer and waiting for others to ‘authorise’ me. To be able to make that happen is life changing. (cue dramatic score)
If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?
Right now I would set up a free “school” or centre for anyone wanting inspiration, encouragement, pep talks and resources to create. Why not. The world’s a mess if you turn on the news. Maybe like aZoolander Centre for Kids (and Adults) Who Can’t Create Good.
What did you love doing as a child? And now?
Swinging on a big swing that went out over a road. Swimming in life jackets in storms. Eating Jelly Tips. Sitting on the beach with fish & chips wrapped in paper. Now… there are sadly no fish & chip shops in France. No Jelly Tips here (although since I know what’s in them, no thanks). Now I love watching some creepy, gripping TV series, walking in the woods, looking at the sky above the Seine Valley out the windows, listening to my children make up games, drinking coffee.
Who are your heroes / influences?
Many of my girl friends: amazing women. Strong smart brave funny. I could name names but I’d miss one and then kick myself for weeks.
Any advice on balancing work and family?
Don’t do as I’ve done and let yourself get so run down you need surgery. (Umbilical hernia, not life threatening, but it’s a slippery slope!) Pretend you’re on an aircraft going down – put on your own oxygen mask before attending to others.
Which do you think you have the most of: talent, intelligence, education, or persistence?
The biggest help in life is persistence. I had #2 and #3 and some of #1 but not enough of #4 and that spelled disaster for ages. But cultivating self-discipline works wonders. I need to add classes on that at my free “school”.
What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have?
A pink Mini Cooper. I think I’m over it. I have a gold Renault Scenic. It rocks.
What, if anything, would you have done differently in your life?
Je ne regrette rien. Even dumb stuff. What else is life than a series of experiences that made you you? You’re you when you do the dumb stuff, too. Own up to it and let it go (sorry to quote Frozen, but that song’s just so catchy).
What is the key to living a happy, fulfilled life?
Drink plenty of water and get enough sleep… (grasps at straws)
What does your future look like?
Rosy…. we are coming into summer up here!! I really would like to get to NZ though before my family there forget who I am.
Those who know me are sick of hearing this but Wuthering Heights all the way.
Daft Punk. Especially their last album.
Several spring to mind from films but I do love this one: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” -Dr. Seuss.