Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WRITERLY WISDOM: Susanna Leonard Hill


It's finally here!  Today begins my new writer's series, WRITERLY WISDOM, where every Wednesday we will sneak a peek into the world of writing and publication.  And what better way to kick things off than with words of wisdom from the author of that vivacious groundhog, Punxsutawney Phyllis! You can check out her website at www.susannahill.com, visit her blog at http://www.susannahill.blogspot.com, or even send her an email to susanna@susannahill.com.  Take it away Susanna Leonard Hill...





WHY BECOME A WRITER?







By: Susanna Leonard Hill





Once upon a time, a little girl loved to write.  She lay on the kitchen floor with scrap paper - the blank back sides of legal document drafts (her parents were lawyers) - and a blue-green Crayola (not the green-blue one!) and asked her mom how to spell the words she didn't know... which was most of them :)  Her mom was patient, and the little girl was determined, and word by word, her stories took shape.  She wrote about whispering under the covers with her sister.  She wrote about a fight with her best friend.  She wrote about a girl and a witch.  She wrote about the day her cat died.  And somewhere along the line, when she found out it was a thing you could be, the little girl began to dream of becoming a writer...




If you're a writer, I wouldn't be surprised if you have a once upon a time like that... or some variation thereof :)




And, if you're a writer, you probably already know that on certain levels, a writer isn't something you become.  It's something you are.  For most of us who write, writing is so much a part of us that we can't imagine not doing it.  It's more a question of what we'll write than whether we'll write.




From journaling for our own personal satisfaction to writing bestsellers that will be printed tens of thousands of times in numerous languages, there is joy in finding the right words.  There is meaning in telling stories that touch the truth of those things we all have in common.  There is understanding to be found in writing through the hard times - self-doubt, misunderstanding, loss, death.






If you're a writer, there's a big difference between knowing it yourself and proclaiming it to the rest of the world.  It takes courage to say, "I am a writer."






But it takes courage to do most things that are worthwhile.






If you're a writer, you might never make a million dollars.


But you may write stories that help others feel valued, accepted, understood, confident, not alone.  You can make that kind of magic.



If you're a writer, your work is a piece of your soul.  By putting it out into the world, you risk it getting stomped on.



But the words you put out there might change someone's life.





Sometimes you have to take a deep breath...








... and jump!






Writing is about shared experience, connectedness, finding a way to acknowledge, embrace, and express the essential parts of life that are common to us all.






The little girl on the kitchen floor knew what it was about long before she could articulate it.  It was right there in the stories she wrote: family and friendship, love and loss, imagination and dreams.





And yet if you ask anyone who writes what the hardest thing they do is, they'll probably tell you it's writing :)  There's a reason there are so many famous quotes along the lines of Red Smith's "Writing is easy.  All you do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein!"





Writing takes actual, physical effort.  It's hard to find the perfect words. It's hard to find a way to say what's in your heart.





But it's important, because if it's in your heart, it's certainly in someone else's.  And maybe you can find the way to say it so it makes sense to them.





Writing is a labor of love, no matter how you do it or who you do it for.





We all have stories to tell.





Some of us paint them with a brush on canvas.





Some of us sing them in major or minor keys with three verses and a chorus.





Some of us dance them with grace and power, leaping and gliding across a stage.





Some share their stories over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table with friends or family.








And some of us write.








If you're a writer, you have a gift.





Don't let practicality or fear or the opinions of others stand in your way.





Share it :)

















Susanna Leonard Hill grew up in New York City with her mom and dad, one sister and two brothers, and an assortment of cats. She went to the Brearley School for K - 12, then received her B.A. in English and Psychology from Middlebury College. She then went on to get her M.A. and M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology and Special Education of Children With Learning Disabilities from Teacher's College, Columbia University.






She worked for many years teaching dyslexic students, but stopped after her third child was born. Now she spends her time being a mom, writing, and visiting schools whenever she gets the opportunity.










66 comments:

  1. Thanks, Donna for starting this series, and thank you Susanna for sharing your thoughts on writing today.

    I admit, I was that girl - even the part about writing about the day my cat died. I was the daydreamer that kept getting lost in my own thoughts until someone forcefully had to pull me out of them and back into the world. :)

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    1. Oh, I know Moonduster! - how many times did I get in trouble for daydreaming?... especially during math class :) So glad you enjoyed the post!

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    2. You're welcome, Becky! I think Susanna did an incredible job with this post...just wait to you see the others...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  2. Excellent kick off to this great series! I do it to exorcise some demons, to express my inner-most feelings (disguised as coming from other characters), to memorialize beloved family and ancestors. Great start to an interesting series, Susanna and Donna!

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    1. Yes, Karen! I think writing can be very therapeutic in many ways! :)

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    2. Thank you, Karen, for your kind words. I used writing to express my feelings at times when I couldn't talk face to face...as a way to avoid the life I was living. Now I use it to enhance my life...

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  3. This inspiring post by Susanna is a great way to launch this new series. Makes me want to write something--anything today.
    Good luck with Writerly Wednesday, Donna.
    Thanks to you both! :)

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    1. So glad you liked it, Dana! Did you end up writing anything? I confess I didn't - I still have kids home from school... 'nuff said :)

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    2. Thanks for your kind words, Dana. I hope people benefit from the wonderful authors and writers who have generously given their time and talents to this new series!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  4. Thanks for the inspiration, Susanna. and Thank you Donna - great kickoff post! I look forward to more!
    Kim

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    1. Glad you found it inspiring, Kim :)

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    2. You're welcome, Kim! I'm so happy Susanna had the time to be able to provide such a great kick off post!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  5. Wonderful post! I loved the line "it takes courage to do most things that are worthwhile". It does take courage and thanks,Susanna, for helping us gain courage through your words, your books, and your blog.

    Donna~Nice start to what I know will be a wonderful series.

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Penny. And I think the great thing about being in a community of writers is that we understand the way each other think (okay, that doesn't sound like correct grammar but hopefully you know what I mean :)) and we can relate to each other so well because of it.

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    2. I couldn't agree with you more, Penny! I'm as excited as everyone else and can't wait for next week's post...Tara Lazar is up and it's gonna be great!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  6. Beautiful post, Susanna. Thank you for so eloquently sharing what is in so many of our souls. Donna, great first post. I look forward to reading more.
    -Alison Hertz

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    1. Thank you, Alison. So glad you enjoyed it! :)

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    2. Alison, I knew Susanna would light a fire under us and inspire us to write, write, write!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  7. Hmmm...an entire post from Susanna that does not mention chocolate once! Here's a mini donut for anyone missing something sweet: O

    Thank you for the morning inspiration Susanna. Best of luck with the series Donna!

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    1. Oh my goodness! What was I thinking? Chocolate donuts, chocolate mousse, chocolate cream pie, chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate. Does that help? :) I'm so glad you found it inspiring in spite of the lack of chocolate Cathy! :)

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    2. Thanks, Cathy, for your kind words. With the fabulous line up of writer and authors I've been blessed with for this series, everyone wins!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  8. Thank you Donna, for initiating this series, it promises to be wonderful. Susanna's beautiful words are just the infusion on courage we need as writers at the beginning of e new year. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Joanna! I just thought that if I wanted ONE place with some basic writing and publishing info, then there are probably many more people who could benefit from the same thing. Glad you like it!

      thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  9. Wow, what a great way to kick off the WRITERLY WISDOM series. : )

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    1. Glad you liked it, Susanne! Susanna's awesome and one of the people who continue to inspire me to devote my best efforts to my writing!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  10. Great post, Susanna. I especially like the ending which sounds so poetic! I can remember when I started writing how hard it was to say "I am a writer" when I had nothing published yet. I like what you said..."it's who you are, not who you become." Thanks, Donna, for hosting.

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    1. It doesn't seem like it should be so hard to say you're a writer, but it is. Somehow people seem to feel much more okay passing judgment on that than if you say you're an accountant or something :) And somehow it feels like you're exposing yourself more. I'm glad you liked the post, Tina :)

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    2. You're welcome, Tina! I donthe 't have a hard time saying I'm a writer...I just don't consider myself an "author"...even when I've had both poetry and now my story in Chicken Soup series...I STILL don't feel comfortable calling myself one...maybe one day...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  11. I love this. I say I'm a writer, but I wanna be an author. *sigh* And I love the quote. SWEET! Thanks for giving me a shot in the vein, Susanna. All this wisdom has made me wanna tackle the world today. *hugs*

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    1. You will be, Robyn :) I'm glad you liked the post. And I hope you had a world-tackling kind of day! :)

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  12. Love your story, Susanna! Just shows you're a master storyteller. Thanks for sharing. It's a perfect way to begin our writer's year!
    And thanks goes to Donna,too, for organizing it all.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jarm. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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    2. Thank you for your kind words, Jarm. I'm hoping a lot of people will benefit (not just me) from all these wonderful posts!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  13. What an inspiringly perfect way to start of what promises to be an incredible series. Thank you so much, Susanna and Donna! Your words touched me deeply, Susanna. They will carry us into the New Year with confidence, knowing that we are in a community of people who write from the heart because that's what we're here for. Thank you again.

    (and yes, the blue-green crayola is far superior to the green-blue. ;) )

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    1. I'm so glad you were touched by the post, Beth. I think it's because we're all writers... we all get it. Thank you for your kind words, and I hope this will be a great writing year for all of us.. whether we write with pencil, pen, computer, or blue-green crayola :)

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    2. Thanks, Beth, for your kind words. My wish is that this series I've create will be a small way of my giving back to a writing community which means so much to me...

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  14. I LOVE this post!! There was only one part that I didn't like.... I'n NOT going to make a million dollars!!??? Are you sure about that, because I REALLY wanted to make a million dollars..... Rats! Oh well, I can't dance, or sing, or draw, so I'll just have to keep doing what I'm doing. Thanks for sharing your story, Susanna. Great choice for the kick-off, Donna.

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    1. Lol...you're so funny Genevieve! Money would be nice but I'll take the publication for pennies if it gets my stories out there for others to enjoy...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  15. That's so nice, Genevieve! I'm so glad you loved it! And I didn't say you weren't going to make a million dollars - just that it wasn't guaranteed :) Go for it! :)

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  16. Congratulations, Donna on the kickoff of your Writerly Wisdom series. Susanna, what a perfect way to get the "Writerly Wisdom" ball rolling. You touched the heart of the little girl in me and the adult writer in me. Thanks for the reminder of what special gifts I have been given as a writer and the special gifts I can give as a writer. Aren't we lucky.

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    1. I agree, Alayne...we are ALL lucky to be both a part of this writing community AND to have such wonderful people like Susanna and others sharing their writerly wisdom with us this upcoming year!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    2. Thanks so much, Alayne. I'm glad if you enjoyed it I will look forward to reading all the gifts you have to share :) And we are all so fortunate to belong to such a wonderful community and to be able to do something we love.

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  17. Yes! Yes! "Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and jump!" I love this statement. No adventure can begin until you decide to jump! And "Oh the places you'll go" on the way down! Donna, you could not have chosen a better person to kick off this series. I'm sure everyone read this and remembered the characters we created as a child. I'm so glad that little girl on the kitchen floor knew she had a gift to share.

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    1. Hi Pam! I couldn't agree with you more! Susanna's post is the perfect beginning to this new writer's series.

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    2. I'm so glad you liked it, Pam, and could relate to it :) I think there were a lot of us on the kitchen floor :) Thanks for your positivity, and here's to a great year of writing in 2013!

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  18. Loved this post, what a wonderful start to your Series Donna, and thank you Susanna. Yes it does take courage to acknowledge we are writers, especially when starting out. I loved the heart message. It's nice to know we are not alone in taking that big leap.. Thank you again, Ladies.

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    1. Hi Diane! Just imagine...this is an awesome beginning post to this new writer's series and we have 51 one more waiting in the wings!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    2. I think that's what makes this community of writers so special, Diane - that we all have each other, and that we understand what it is to be a writer! :)

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  19. After toying with the idea of Kindle for a while I was just ready to hit the button and a little voice inside me screamed 'Don't do it!'.

    I thought about it a while then this evil little monkey on my back whispered 'If you are going to do it, do it properly'. I am signing up with a publishing company and the expected release of my first book is in March. This e-book business is probably the way forward for the likes of me, but I like to hold a book, smell it, almost be a part of it, not stare at some lcd screen.

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    1. Oh, JP, how I have missed your smiling face on my blog posts...;~)

      My sister and I speak of your book often and are both saddened that we can't read more of it...but now you are saying Boyhood is coming out in March? Of 2013? Oh please tell me it will be available in the States as I will be first in line to get it!!!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    2. It will be available worldwide but you needn't worry anyway. I get ten soft covers and three hardbacks which I intend signing and giving away. You and Janet are top of the list :)

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    3. Awwww, JP, you are too kind! Just send me an email when it comes out (I lost your email when the hacker came for a visit last year) and we will figure out how to send it across the pond...;~)...I can't wait!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    4. JP, I love you!! I, too, am a paper and ink book lover. I also love the smell of a big stack of books. Come on, March! I know your book is going to do well.

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  20. I am glad that little girl grew up into the wonderful writer she is today! Beautiful, Susanna, and inspiring!

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    1. Hi IZA and welcome to my blog! I have learned so much from Susanna and was thrilled she was able to kick off this new writer series with such a wonderfully inspiring post.

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    2. Thank you, Iza! That means so much to me coming from you :)

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  21. What an awesome start to an awesome series!! Some things you said really struck a chord with me: "It takes courage to say 'I'm a writer'" - it wasn't until I had my second book contract that I finally felt somewhat comfortable telling people "I'm a teacher . . . and a writer"; "If you're a writer, you might never make a million dollars" (this one speaks for itself!); "Don't let practicality or fear or the opinions of others stand in your way. . . . Sometimes you have to take a deep breath . . . and jump!" I'm a firm believer in putting yourself out there and taking a chance - you can't win if you don't enter :-) Thanks, Susanna and Donna!!

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    1. Hi Lori! Glad you made your way over her to catch Susanna's lovely post! I'm sure there were many people (myself included) who could relate to Susanna's words. I think that's what makes this such a great writing community to be a part of...

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and could relate, Lori! I think this is why we make such a great group - we all "get" each other :) Let's all jump in 2013! :)

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  22. Hi Donna,
    I noticed that you have an opening for a post about research this spring. I volunteer my services.
    Best,
    Debbie

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  23. Hi Debbie and welcome to my blog! I've sent you a private message through Facebook. I would love to see if we could work something out so my readers (and myself) could learn from your words of wisdom...;~)

    Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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