Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hooray for Laptops

I spent most of the last week at the county fair, where my son was showing his steer. This is his first year in 4-H, his first year to show at the fair, and I’m very proud of him. Friday night was the livestock auction, and to combat the sheer mind-numbing boredom of sitting in the auction arena for many, many (i.e. four) hours, waiting for the five minutes near the end (after they’d finished with the goats, sheep, and hogs) when my son would bring his steer into the auction pen, I brought along my laptop and fired it up to work on an article for Children’s Writer I’d blocked in earlier in the week.

I’ve talked before about how much writing I can accomplish while sitting in busy, crowded places, such as the mall, but I really wondered whether I’d be able to write much at the auction. A comfy chair in an air-conditioned mall, with an espresso bar a short escalator ride away, is one thing. A stuffy cow barn on a hot August night is quite another. But I sat there on my hard metal chair Friday night, laptop propped on my knees, the auctioneer yammering and bidders calling out all around me, and finished the entire first draft of the article, writing so quickly, in fact, that when I reached the end of the article, I still had an hour’s wait before it was my son’s turn to auction his steer.

When I write in a public place like this, the hubbub of the crowd becomes white noise that sort of insulates me, and I’m able to focus without any distractions. Seems strange, I know, when potential distractions are bubbling all around. But they aren’t the same distractions that usually derail me: email, snack breaks, dirty laundry, remote control. I wish I could figure out a way to maintain that same focus in the comfort of my own home. I can’t imagine how much writing I would get done.

And a note about the cow image above: No, it’s not my son’s steer. It’s a clip art photo that came with my Word software, which I thought was fun and have been looking for an excuse to use. My son’s steer is a shiny black Angus/Brangus cross, while this cow appears to be a Hereford.


Anonymous said...


Former 4-H leader, here. :) My daughter showed steers for 4 years - after showing them first as bucket calves. BOY, did we have tears at auction time, esp the first year. Maybe there's a novel in there, eh? Ha.

The fair has always signaled the end of summer for us, and we'd immediately go into get-ready-for-school mode. That's much different this year, as our youngest (that steer-showing daughter) is headed off to college Thursday. *sigh* Time flies.

Jill Esbaum

L.D. Harkrader said...

Hey, it's great to hear from you! And yes, auction time is sad. Austin's steer was more like a puppy (a very *large puppy!) than a farm animal.

And yes, now that we're home from the fair, we're in full get-ready-for-school mode.

Good luck to your daughter at college! And good luck to her mom as she watches her go. :-)