Not born a writer you say – Susan Crandall
By Susan Crandall
I’ve always been envious of those writers who began penning stories as soon as they could hold one of those chubby beginner pencils in their five-year-old hand. I see pictures posted on author websites and blogs of wide-lined paper filled with childish scrawl and primitive crayon pictures, bound together with love and yarn. Alas, it took me just over thirty-five years to find the writer in me — and it had to be dragged out by my younger sister.♥
Obviously, I’ve always loved books, getting totally lost in a story. I’ve always been intrigued by the way words can be shifted and turned to deliver many different moods and meanings. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I could be a novelist. My road to discovery began when my sister asked me to help her with a novel she’d been writing in secret (we do that, we writers, closet ourselves and our work away from the world, because you see, writing is a very deep and personal thing). I discovered that writing does not require a college degree (mine is in science) or a pedigree of writing forefathers and mothers. Writing stories that touch people’s lives and hearts requires time, patience, perseverance and most of all, being an astute observer of the world around you.
The craft of novel writing can be learned, self-taught or in a formal educational setting. But the ability to connect those words in a way that evokes vivid pictures and a wide range of emotions comes from, well, I just call it “paying attention”. Sitting in silence, watching others can sometimes be viewed as shy, or stuck up, elusive, aloof (you get my drift), but it is my way of absorbing what is going on, swallowing it in, digesting it, figuring out emotions and motivations and individual characteristics. Every foray out into the world is a learning experience.
My sister and I collaborated on four unpublished novels. She is all fire and inspiration and imagination. I am all determination, detail and immersion. After four novels, she moved on. But I was hooked. I consider those four novels my writing education. This was back when the internet was foreign to most of us average Joes, so my learning curve was pretty flat, just what I could pick up from “how to write a novel” books. Once I found a way to connect with other writers (workshops, unpublished contests, etc.), I really began to put it together.
And then I had to figure out the road to publication, which is so lengthy it requires a blog post of its own. Just know it wasn’t easy. Remember what I said about determination? It plays big time in getting a book in print.
My first solo book was also my first published novel, Back Roads, in mass market paperback. It seemed a dream. After all of those years (the number is 9) of work and determination it had finally happened. Now, nearly twelve years later, I’m about to launch my eleventh novel, The Flying Circus, my second hardcover. Believe me, perseverance and determination have played a big part in my success — along with commitment to always, always become a better writer.
In my last novel, Whistling Past the Graveyard, one of my favorite characters is Eula, a childless woman who risks everything to help a girl find her mother. Eula tells young Starla about talents—gifts, “A body don’t know how many the good Lord tucked inside them until the time is right. I reckon a person could go a whole life and not know. That why you gotta try lots of things, many as you can … experiment.”
I’d say that was definitely true in my case. So maybe I was born a writer, it just took me thirty-five years to uncover the gift.
That said, we must all explore every day to discover the hidden talents we possess, and strive to improve those we’ve already found.
What gifts do you hope to find tucked inside?
Thanks to Jade Craddock at WeHeartWriting for inviting me to share a little of my story with you!
Susan Crandall is a critically acclaimed author of women’s fiction, romance, and suspense. She has written several award-winning novels including her first book, Back Roads, which won the RITA award for best first book, as well as Whistling Past the Graveyard, which won the SIBA 2014 Book Award for Fiction. Susan lives in Noblesville, Indiana, with her family.