I ask Susan a version of “are you a writer and what’s that about” that I asked DeWitt.
She thought, and then said, “I feel like a writer if either a) I am writing something every day or b) I know someone, even just one person, is reading my work and taking it seriously. It’s easy to feel like a writer when you’re in an MFA program, because both of those things are true, in a big way. The sad part is—when you get out your work is better but fewer people might be reading it for a while and you might struggle to do the same amount of writing, because you’re not being asked to do it regularly for a class while being given a graduate stipend. Having to work at a job-job cuts into writing time, which is why I’m trying to work part-time.
There are times when I’m unable to write, because there’s too much to do outside of that. I think that’s painful for me, not only because I’m not getting closer to my goal of publishing, but because I feel good when I’m writing. Even if everything else seems wrong, my writing can be there for me, kind of like exercise, and some of it can seem kind of cool sometimes, which I think is a normal writer feeling. Writing is kind of like dreaming, and dreaming makes me feel good—even if I have a bad dream, it’s kind of like an exorcism of feelings I was having trouble with. Through writing or dreaming I recover from a fear or deal with the fact that I have that fear. It’s an efforts toward problem solving, no matter how you’re doing it. Also, writing lets me travel, and travel feels healing to me.”
I liked Susan’s answer, so I brought in a bunch of dirt and made a path to the rug where we all are sitting. Susan is sitting on a purple velvet chaise lounge and I pulled up a cool footrest made from the trunk of a tree for her.