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Suzanne: An Introduction

I’m an American living in Japan with my Japanese baseball coach husband and our eight-year-old twins. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing stories and novels since childhood. This year – after five attempts at writing a novel – I have finally succeeded in publishing one. Losing Kei, my debut, completed in stolen hours at coffee shops and at the kitchen table while my family slept, was published in January.

Another project which I worked on simultaneously – an anthology entitled Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs – will be officially published next month. And coming up, in November, Topka Press will publish my first children’s picture book, Playing for Papa.

So it’s going to be a great year, and yet I still feel like I’m teetering on the edge of a career as a writer. It’s been two years since I finished writing my novel and the short story that will become a picture book. I’d expected to have another novel completed by now, especially since my children are now in elementary school. And the short story collection that was accepted for publication by a press that I admire is no longer accepted. The editor that I was working with died suddenly, and the press’s interest in my work died along with him. And what’s more, the publisher of my novel has sold his company. The new owners seem to have a different vision for the company, one that might not include me.

So this writing business, I’ve found, is a precarious one. There are infinite levels of failure. Yet I persist. I didn’t start writing for money or fame or adulation. I wrote because I love it. And I still do.

Having written five novels already, I know that I can go the distance and write another one. This month, the members of my writer’s group have committed ourselves to writing 10,000 words. As of today, I’ve completed 2,663 words on my novel-in-progress. Onward!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wonderful to have you, Suzanne. Congratulations on your successes! It must feel a little odd to see your work appear in print while the creation process feels long passed–sort of like movie stars out on a press junket for a movie they made two years ago.

    And I love the writers’ group 10K quota. Goals like that really get your hand moving, and turn off the inner editor.

    Seeing as you’ve been fairly prolific in recent years, with five novels completed, please share a few of your secrets! Do you find that squeezing in your writing time, while sometimes a challenge, doesn’t take a lot of self-discipline because you love the process? How do you apply yourself to the chair and get it done, rather than taking care of all the other things that demand your attention? What else competes for your time while your daughters are at school?

    Please forgive all the nosy questions–just hoping for a peek behind the curtain 🙂

    April 8, 2008
  2. Hi Suzanne. Welcome to the group!

    You certainly deserve a pat on the back for all you’ve accomplished so far, and it should serve as a reminder to you that if you’ve done it once, you can certainly do it again.

    I am currently reading for review Kurt Vonnegut’s new book, released posthumously by his son. In the introduction by his son, Mark Vonnegut talks about how he remembers that Kurt always felt like his success, his talent, or his inspiration would suddenly disappear at any moment, that it was never a guarantee.

    10,000 words a day is a lofty goal. Sometimes I find that if I set small goals for myself, I’m more likely to achieve them, feel good about my success, and then go on to push myself so much farther. If I set a large goal for myself and then don’t keep up with it, I sometimes get discouraged, but that’s just me. I like our Monday Page here for setting goals and revisiting whether or not we attained them. It helps us celebrate the little accomplishments each week. (That being said, I haven’t posted on The Monday Page yet this week. I think I’m more of an every-other-week person.)

    I’d be interested to hear more about your life in Japan. My mother lived in Japan for a few years as a girl, but I’ve only been a couple of times and only very briefly.

    April 9, 2008
  3. caseycairo #

    Welcome, Suzanne! I am so happy to hear that you, as such a seasoned writer, have joined us. I look forward to learning from you and hearing what you have to say.

    I echo Lisa’s sentiment that it would be very interesting to hear about your life in Japan. Where are you living? Do you speak Japanese? I was in Tokyo a few years back and though I found it beautiful, I was a bit ill at ease because I couldn’t make even the smallest attempt at conversing with people.

    What a discouraging setback with your editor, and I’m impressed by your drive and your back-to-the-drawing-board attitude.

    April 9, 2008
  4. Your determination is such an inspiration to me! Welcome to this great group of creative moms . . . . this has provided me with the comaraderie (did I spell that right???) that I needed, and has instilled a great sense of confidence for me to move forward with my own work. I would love to hear more about your life in Japan, as well. I’ve never visited Japan, but we traveled to China twice to adopt our daughters (well, we did change planes in Tokyo . . . . ) and I found the Asian people so gentle and gracious. We all need to hear that verbal “kick in the rear” to get us off center and move on to the next event! Thanks for the encouragement! Nina

    April 9, 2008
  5. gaijinmama #

    My goal is 10K words during the month of April. 10K per day would be impossible for me!

    I’d be happy to post more about my life in Japan here. I do have a personal blog where I write about life as the mother of a disabled child in Japan (among other things). You can check that out at any time.

    April 10, 2008
  6. FYI, Suzanne’s blog is available here http://gaijinmama.wordpress.com, and is also listed in the “Browse our personal blogs” box on the right. Check it out!

    April 10, 2008

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