Suzanne M. Brazil
My name is Suzanne M. Brazil. I grew up mainly in the Midwest and live less than an hour north of Chicago with my husband and son. We have a daughter getting married in June and our son is in college. I’ve been writing my whole life. When I’m upset, happy, loving, homicidal – it all comes out first in a letter in my head. I once tap danced in a Las Vegas showgirl type outfit in a variety show in Texas and I have owned two horses (neither in Texas). I’ve been published twice in Writer’s Digest and several time in local publications. I finished my first draft of my first novel in August 2014 and am in the thick of revisions. I blog, riff and revise from my daughter’s old bedroom at a desk my husband made for me.
What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?
Once a week during 6th grade at Ellis Elementary School, a small group of “gifted” students were shoved into plastic chairs at a scuffed, round table that took up all the space in a room the size of a maintenance closet. We were told we were special and should simply “write a story” for a book to be permanently housed in the school library. Gifted is a curse visited upon normal children in support of elevating paygrades for administrators. I don’t remember being given any feedback or craft lessons and I don’t remember what the story was about. Last summer, I contacted the school librarian but she had no record of such a volume. Still, I remember the maintenance closet.
The first piece I remember fully is my 8th grade graduation speech. The student body were required to submit a speech as part of an English assignment. Mine was among three chosen and I stood at a podium in a pale blue, empire-wasted maxi-dress with my curled hair pulled back in a barrette. The opening line was a quote “I would rather sit alone on a pumpkin then be crowded on a velvet cushion…”
What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?
Writing is a release, a call to arms and a honkey tonk dance. My least favorite is, for now, having the patience to revise and rewrite. I want to be naturally brilliant and I’m just not. I’m learning to enjoy the transformed results.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?
I do not. Mainly because all the famous, brilliant writers I stalk are those that deny it. I do believe in mentally allowing yourself not to write or emotionally blocking yourself from getting to the chair in front of the desk. I 100% believe if you pick up a pen (or lay fingertips on a keyboard) and start writing “I have writer’s block I have writer’s block I have nothing to say I don’t know what to write” that after a time, could be three minutes or three hours, Bob will slide down the sharp bumpy scales of the dragon without any idea how he landed in Shnarfville. And so, you are no longer “blocked.”
I am three chapters into my second draft of my first novel. The challenge is, as this was my first finished full-length book, I had (and have) so many things to learn about craft that the revisions required are extensive. It is daunting but I’m looking at it as a learning experience.
Knowing that I might not have any interest in publishing this project and finding the passion and joy in learning how to make it better so that I am a better writer is intimidating.
What supports you in your writing?
The most decadent thing I can imagine is supporting myself. I’m cursed with believers. From a young age, my mom, siblings, friends and now my husband and kids all think I’m brilliant. Expectations are a burden and impossible to live up to. This year, I finally refused to give into fear. I’ve treated myself to a private mentor, a retreat, classes and whatever else it takes. My motto as I turn 50 this year is “I don’t have time to be embarrassed.” If I fail, it will not be for lack of trying.
What are you currently reading?
It is January in Chicago. I am reading The Vacationers by Emma Straub which takes place in Spain, near a beach. It’s my vicarious get away.
Also reading this great little gem I received as a gift, Book Love from Pushcart Press. It’s an ode to printed/bound books, readers and writers. Loving it!
My book club just selected Winter People which looks a little spooky. Can’t wait. We just finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
Where can our readers find you and your books online?
I’m new at this whole blogging thing but learning as I go. You can find me here http://suzannebrazil.com/
“An Ordinary Life” is a story I wrote for my mom. It will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom which is due in bookstores March 17, 2015.