Changing lives… with author Sue Johnson: ‘I focused on what I could do – and what helped me.’

Today I’m welcoming author Sue Johnson to the blog. Sue has a fascinating and rare medical condition that can add flavour to the words she uses and has overcome negativity from a former ex-husband to create a career from writing. Read on to find out more… 

Welcome to the blog Sue, please tell the readers a little more about yourself…

I am published as a poet, short story writer and novelist. I also create books aimed at helping other writers. I run my own brand of writing workshops and am a Writing Magazine Home Study tutor. I am fortunate to have lexical gustatory synaesthesia – certain words and names flood my mouth with a specific taste. (‘Robert’ tastes of strawberry jam, ‘feather’ tastes of whipped cream.

What’s the most significant change you’ve experienced to date?

The most significant change in my life to date was the ending of my twenty-four year marriage in April 1998. The person I was married to used to say: “Don’t tell people you write – they’ll think you’re weird.” I wrote in secret – sometimes working in five minute snatches. I got work published which led to me being ridiculed by my now ex-husband.

What were your initial feelings as you processed what this change would mean to you?

When we separated, I can remember looking outside the window and noticing how bright the colours were. I felt positive, despite the difficulties I was facing (no money, no job, no home, no contact with my children).

How did you approach managing the change once you had accepted it?

I focused on what I could do – and what helped me. I wrote …and wrote… and wrote. The words that poured out formed the first draft of my novel ‘Fable’s Fortune.’ I went back to college to study creative writing.  I submitted a short story for my first assessment  – inspired by the situation I was going through. The lecturer tossed it back at me telling me to ‘rip it up and start again – I was writing about something I knew nothing about.’

The stubborn part of me (Aries birth sign) wouldn’t let me do that. I looked in Writing Magazine, found a competition and sent the story with no revisions. It didn’t win the competition but I was taken on by short story agency Midland Exposure and the story sold to ‘Woman.’ It was the first of many stories to be sold to women’s magazines.

I have been a Writing Magazine Home Study Tutor for the last twelve years and also run my own brand of writing workshops. I would never tell anyone to rip a story up! There is always something to be salvaged.

What did you learn from the experience?

I look on my divorce as one of the most positive experiences of my life. If I’d remained stuck in a bad situation I would never have achieved all that I have in the last nineteen years. Although some of it was difficult and upsetting it has taught me to count my blessings.

What would your top tip be for someone going through a similar experience?

I would say to anyone in the same situation:

  1. Never lose sight of your dreams.
  2. Write every day – even if you only manage five minutes.
  3. Constructive criticism is good – ignore the other sort!
  4. However bad things seem at the moment, they will get better.
  5. Reward yourself regularly – you deserve it.

My fourth novel will be published by Endeavour Press in December. I am also awaiting the publication of my first My Weekly Pocket Novel. My novel Fortune’s Promise is out now and available from Amazon.

Follow me on Twitter @SueJohnson9

I look on my divorce as one of the most positive experiences of my life. If I’d remained stuck in a bad situation I would never have achieved all that I have in the last nineteen years. Although some of it was difficult and upsetting it has taught me to count my blessings.

Author Sue Johnson


Thanks for taking part in ‘Changing lives’, Sue! I suspect some of your experiences will definitely resonate with readers. If you enjoyed reading this interview and would like to take part in the changing lives series, please use the ‘contact me’ form on the blog.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s