When I came across Suzannah Freeman‘s site, Write It Sideways, I instantly knew I wanted to interview her. She has some great resources for writers and her sense of humor is delightful.
I also liked this paragraph in her bio:
I was born and raised in the cold Canadian North, but now see the world from the fresh perspective of sunny Australia. My family and I enjoy arguing over grammar, playing Scrabble, and chasing each other with deadly arachnids.
I write. A lot. But that wasn’t always the case.
See what she did there? She put a hook that made you want to learn more. Clever! Besides that, who doesn’t love someone that argues over grammar and plays Scrabble?
Enjoy this interview.
First of all, I absolutely love your site and encourage everyone to take a look (and subscribe.) One of the things I appreciate about it are the different topics, lessons, and things to ponder for writers. What has been the one piece of advice you have most appreciated in your writing career?
Thank you! It’s always encouraging to hear that others find my blog helpful.
The biggest thing that’s made a difference to my writing is remembering that good writing takes time. I’d always been told I was a ‘good writer’ during my school years, so I used to think that if I really applied myself, I’d be able to write something publishable on the first try. Not so. My first true attempts at writing something publishable were awful, even though I thought they were brilliant. I remember being incredulous when my first short story manuscript was returned to me covered in red marks.
Years later, I can look back and see how far I’ve come. Now I recognise there’s no real hurry to get published, and I enjoy taking time learning my craft. I’m no longer obsessed with how long it’s going to take to be ‘good enough’.
I love the story you tell about being seven years old and writing the story, “My Soul Has Been Murdered.” So dramatic! (Smile). Do you still have the story somewhere? Has pieces of it ever worked its way into your present works?
I was a very dramatic child, as you can imagine! I have no idea where that particular story went, but I do remember it had a picture of a gravestone on the cover, and I remember being a bit embarrassed when I discovered that all the other girls in my class had written about horses and fairies. I wouldn’t say pieces of it have worked their way into any of my present works, but I would say I still tend toward heavier, thought-provoking stories.
When do you find that inspiration hits you the most?
First thing in the morning is when I feel most inspired to write, especially when the house is still quiet. Since having my second child, I’ve had to train myself to write with a bit more background noise. My toddler tends to get up around 5 am, so sometimes I write while he’s eating his breakfast. I just find that even though I’m tired in the morning, my mind feels fresh.
Also, it’s possible that I feel naturally more creative after just waking up, because I dream a lot. I very, very rarely feel inspired to write fiction in the evening, although that’s when I often work on my blog posts.
Please share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I wrote the first draft of a novel last year, and I would like to finish that this year. But, a few months back an invitation to submit a short story to a literary magazine shifted my focus for a while. Since that particular story was accepted for publication, I’m now working on a couple of other short stories, and I have a third out on submission. By no means have I given up on the novel, but I’m welcoming a few months away from it so I can come back to edit with fresh eyes.
I’m also in the process of writing a productivity ebook for fiction-writing moms, which I’ll be marketing through my website. Those are my goals for the 12 or 18 months, but my ultimate goal is to traditionally publish a novel.
Oh, that’s a tough question! I’d have to say the most interesting book I’ve ever read is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I love most of the classics, but Jane Eyre has such a great combination of excellent writing, romance, mystery, socio-historical context…I could go on forever. It’s literary fiction with a genre plot. It’s a page-turner, but with so much more going on under the surface.
What book are you currently reading?
Alias Grace: A Novel by Margaret Atwood, which is a fictionalised account of a real-life woman, Grace Marks, who was convicted as a murderess. As a Canadian, I’m ashamed to say this is the first of Atwood’s novels I’ve read, but I have read some of her short stories. I’m really enjoying her style of writing–sophisticated, but not flowery.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to spend time with my husband and kids, read, play the piano, and go for walks. I rarely get time to turn on the TV, but when I do, it’s most often to watch a movie–usually a classic or a BBC production, but I’ll admit to the odd chick flick or lighthearted comedy. I took up knitting for a little while, but soon reconciled myself to the fact that I was destined to only ever knit scarves!
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
For me, success means working toward your ultimate goals and never giving up–even if you never reach them. For example, even if I spend my entire life working toward being traditionally published in novel-length fiction but never actually make it, as long as I know I put forward everything I had, then I would have no reason for regret. Unsuccessful writers, to me, are those who give up when it all becomes too difficult.
Where can we learn more about you?
Write It Sideways is where I blog about writing craft and productivity. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook where I share resources and links I’ve found useful. And, you can find me as a guest contributor at Writer Unboxed three times each year.
Thanks so much for having me, Cherie!