Phoenix Rising

I fantasize about what it would be like to be interviewed once I am a famous writer. Two weeks ago, we were well into that dream interview. My first volume of memoirs has just been published and is doing well…

#dreaminterview #susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #amwriting

SO, YOU WERE TELLING US ABOUT ENTERING DATA FOR APPROXIMATELY 40 OF YOUR “LIFE EVENTS”?

Yes, once I got comfortable with that spreadsheet, I went for it! Like a lot of new things in my life, I’m usually reticent when I begin, but once something works, I’m its biggest fan. When it was complete, I had five time periods, with a grand total of 44 “life events!”

WHAT ARE THOSE ANYWAY?

They sound like weddings or funerals, don’t they? They’re not. Instead, they are significant childhood milestones that shaped who I am as adult. But those 3 columns were significant: Time Period, Life Event, and Page Number from Version One.

My Life Coach, Laurie, knew I had this dream and story to tell, but I was so overwhelmed with how to tell it. Her feedback showed me that it’s not as easy as it looks. We had to take my story, my life, my data (lol!) and organize it. So, we did…into 3–5-year increments. Then, I inserted pivotal moments of my childhood into them aka the “event” bit such as learning how to swim, being at my Great Grandmother’s, and going to the beach for the first time.

I had too much to pick from, at that point, so we decided that Volume 1 would be my life from 12 years and under. Still, that was about 40 events!

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO LIST YOUR CHILDHOOD OUT AS DATA POINTS LIKE THAT?

Actually, that was the easy part! Next, we discussed how I begin the second version and decided that I should work a basic 5WH Heuristic: Who, When, Where, When, Why and How on each event. Basically, write about each of these 40 events for Version 2. So, I did.

HOW LONG DID “VERSION 2” TAKE TO WRITE?

I did it last summer. I was off work, and my children are old enough to entertain themselves, so I would work for about an hour in the morning, and then another hour and a half or so in late afternoon after my husband was done with work. And it worked! I had 63,000 words or 102 pages by mid-September.

WOW! CONGRATULATIONS! THAT SURE IS A LOT LESS THAN YOUR FIRST VERSION! BUT YOU DID IT QUICKLY.

Yeah, I’m motivated. Like I said last week, I’m a writer, and it’s been my dream to write a book my entire life. So, once I was organized, it was easy. But it’s work, too. My kids were 5 and 9 years old last summer, and they are used to me writing or being in my office for the part of most days, so it was nothing for me to be in here toiling away for an hour while they watched cartoons, played on their devices, or played in the backyard. But it’s still an hour. There is the potential for serious Mom guilt there.

OH, I BET! ALL WORKING PARENTS CAN RELATE TO TIMES LIKE THAT.

But my 12 step programs, family, friends, and spirituality…they help me let that go. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Then, the kids and I would hang out mid-day for a couple of hours almost daily on weekdays. And they were ready for a parent swap around 3:00 or 3:30 pm when my husband took over.

I could have easily just hung out with them the entire day and dedicated myself to being a full-time stay-at-home Mom during the pandemic, but there was a major opportunity there, and I took it.

SO, BEING FURLOUGHED DURING THE PANDEMIC HELPED YOU WRITE A BOOK?

Yep! Many times, we went to a park or stream or hike or walk or a bike ride and it would have been so easy to not be back around 3’o’clock to get back to my manuscript, but I didn’t. I know my dreams. Recovery has gifted me with that. And fulfilling your dreams makes you a happy person. In retrospective, it was a fantastic routine.

Sure, at 2:30, they would be like “Do we have to go?” from whichever park we were.

“Five more minutes,” I’d usually say. I tried not to be a total shrew about it.

But we have a saying in one of my programs “Put your own oxygen mask on first.” Of course, This is in regards to self-care. But that’s what my writing is. It’s my talent and my gift. It’s what I live for. You know how there’s that one thing on the planet that when you do, you lose track of time? Or you’re in the “zone”? Or your happy place?

(INTERVIEWER NODS HERE, SAYS HM-MM)

I knew I had to get to my desk. And I am always, always, glad when I do. You have to be fulfilled as a human being and do what you’re meant to do.

The pandemic had mixed blessings such as my furlough pay and our stimulus money. I invested in a much-needed, beautiful new laptop! And as 2020 continued into the fall, virtual school began, my blogging continued, and I submitted Version 2 to my editor. I had it simply and proudly bound at my neighborhood Staples, and she was to read and edit it for a couple of months.

But it wouldn’t take long before she began suggesting rewrites of Version 2(again!)… sigh.

To be continued…

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