Writer-girl Wednesday: Susannah Conway
I heart Susannah Conway. The day I finished reading her book, I discovered my mumma had a terminal illness, and having read Susannah's own story of loss and unraveling her heart in This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart (Skirt!, 2012) it was like my heart had been pre-balmed in anticipation. Susannah is also a photographer and e-course creator, her classes have been enjoyed by thousands of people from over 40 countries around the world. Co-author of Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids (Chronicle Books, 2012), Susannah's work will help you to reconnect to your true self using photography as the key to open the door. Sigh. I'm doing cartwheels o' happy stuff that she's agreed to come hang with us in SASSYville, come meet her and love her as much as I do...
Miss S, let's start with you, in a tweet. Photographer, author, aunt. Polaroid addict.
Your book, This I know, made me cry, but it's not sad, it's full of hope and healing, part memoir, part heart offering to others to unravel their own hearts, this is a super-special book - how long did it take you to create? From the initial embryonic idea to the actual finished book took about two years, which is pretty standard for a publishing house. The first version of the manuscript took me about six months to write — the first couple of months were mainly procrastination as I flitted about trying to figure out the structure of the book and worked through some serious performance anxiety. But once I got started I couldn’t stop. It was an absolute delight and absolute torture. So… the usual book-writing experience, then.
What inspired you to share in such a heart spilling, truth telling way? In many ways I’ve always shared my heart like this. In my previous incarnation as a journalist I wrote quite a few first person pieces that shared my own personal experiences. When I started blogging in 2006 I didn’t know I was going to share as much as I did and do — it was simply a place for me to put my thoughts. I’d lost my partner in 2005 and was still grieving back then, but the more I wrote the more I wanted to share, not to memorialise the past but to chronicle my new life. I slowly began to draw readers to my blog who really connected with what I was writing, and as I really valued the heart-felt sharing of other bloggers it felt natural to write in such a way myself. I’ve always had a tendency to spill the beans.
I'm obsess-o about how other people write books, so with that in mind... How do you begin? What's your writing process? Panic. Procrastinate. Write a bit. Rinse and repeat. I have to switch off the internet and write in short bursts before rewarding myself with ten minutes on Twitter. It’s ridiculous but it’s how the book got written.
Any good luck talismans/charms? I have a bracelet my love bought me for Christmas that I keep in my pocket when I need good luck. I don’t often wear it as I’m afraid I’ll lose it but it’s often in my hand.
As well as writer, you're a photo-taking girl too. How powerful can combining these two moment-capturing processes be to our everyday life telling? Taking photographs is great for getting us out the house and out into the world; writing is more of an inward journey. Both give us a way to document our lives and pay attention to what really matters, which to my mind is crazy powerful! This is why I love Instagram so much — recording, writing, sharing. LOVE.
I want to know what you do to align your SASSY - Spiritual, Authentic, Sensual & Sensational YOU! There is one week of the month when I feel very far away from my SASSY self — I’m sure the ladies in the audience can appreciate what I’m saying. During that week there is not much I can do to feel great, so I have to roll with it. However, when hormones are NOT beating me down, I feel most connected to my SASSY self when I am doing creative work — writing or taking photographs. Walking around some place new with my camera. Exploring. Being truly open to the world. Journalling. Expressing myself. Getting excited about dreams, plans and ideas. Channeling my creativity.
Do you have any unique-to-you rituals or connection practices? Oooh, that’s a tough one as no, I don’t really have any. Okay, this certainly isn’t unique to me, but I always grind coffee beans in the morning to make my coffee. I make it strong and black and really savour every sip. It's my favourite simple pleasure.
What is your absolute truth? If we heal our own hurts we’re less likely to pass them on. It’s kinda become my mission the last few years.
What inspires you, gives you pleasure, makes you jump-in-the-air happy, hot and horny? Travel. Taking photos. Scented candles and incense. Kissing boys. Perfume oil. Dance music. Magnolia tress in bloom.
What does a SC self-care regime look like? What do you to for yourself to ensure you can shine like the superstar beacon o' awesome that you are in the world? I allow myself to take my time when I’m working. There is always a ton of stuff to get done, but rather than cram it into the usual work hours I’ll let myself take the morning off to wander around town and then work late into the evening. I treat myself to a lot of scented candles and Lush fresh face masks. If I want chocolate I eat some chocolate. And I spend as much time with my two-year-old nephew as I can (he is the light of my life).
What's your mantra for living and loving with your whole big beat-y heart?
Don’t be afraid to look inside.
Love big and bold and bravely.
Let them see who you truly are.
And always tell the truth, most of all to yourself.
Quick fire round...What's your favourite:
Place to hang out: The beach in the autumn
food: Fish ’n’ chips
swear word: fuck
movie: Desperately Seeking Susan
book: Anything by Sharon Olds
website: Currently http://www.brainpickings.org/