on Creativity with Susan Gloss
Susan Gloss‘ second novel came out early this year, and I’m happy to report that it was as fun to narrate as her first, Vintage. Both novels are set in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Publisher Harper Collins calls it “a charming mid-western story of artists, inspiration, and how to reinvent your life with purpose and flair”, and I have to agree.
Since this book is largely about the tension between pursuing a career in the arts and the real life demands of creating a family, I’m so happy that Susan agreed to talk about her process and work with me.
KW: Do you have practices/rituals/habits that support your creative work?
SG: The one thing that is consistent whenever I’m in the drafting phase of a novel is that I have to leave the house to write. I have two little boys, so it’s impossible to get work done at home. Even when they are in school, I get distracted by all of the mundane household tasks that need to get done, like tackling Mount Laundry. I usually write in coffee shops and libraries.
KW: How do you fill your well?
SG: I crave alone time in which I’m not working. I also love to be outdoors, so my favorite ways to get alone time are taking long bike rides in the summer, and skiing in the winter. I did my first century bike ride (100 miles in one day) late last summer. It was glorious to be able to work my body, fill my soul, and clear my head all at the same time.
KW: If you have a day job, do you enjoy using your mind/body in that different way or is it an obligation that weighs on your creative work?
SG: I work part-time as an attorney. I definitely see my two jobs—lawyer and novelist—as different sides of the same coin. They compliment each other. Both jobs revolve around research and writing. My day job allows me to exercise the analytical part of my brain, while writing fiction allows me to be creative.
KW: Is the space in which you work important to you?
SG: Not especially. I can block out external noise pretty easily, even without headphones or anything. Side benefit of being a mom, I guess.
KW: Do you have multiple creative outlets in your life?
SG: In addition to writing, I also love cooking as a creative outlet. In the summer and fall, I belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, and we get a box of vegetables every week based on whatever is in season and currently being harvested. Having to figure out what do with, say, an abundance of eggplant and arugula is a fun creative challenge, not to mention delicious!
KW: Was there a moment when you felt like a “real” writer? Did it catch you by surprise?
SG: Seeing the cover design for my first book was when it started to feel “real.” I still am surprised and amazed when readers from other parts of the world tag me on social media. My first novel, VINTAGE, has been published in several foreign languages. It’s fun to see the wings my stories have grown.
Thank you for these insights into your life and career, Susan, and thanks to Harper Audio, who gave me digital copies of THE CURIOSITIES to give away.
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