Ladies and gentlemen welcome back for another ride on the Writing train. So glad you could join the locomotion as we’re just getting started here. Well, shall we begin? All aboard! I’ve been THOROUGHLY enjoying getting to know my fellow writers on different levels. Our next guest is rather special in many regards. You might know her from her wonderful inspirational quotes she sends out on twitter on a daily basis. Everyone, please welcome Susan Mcintire.
Susan is many things all wrapped into one. She’s a well traveled professional who’s path has made her into a stellar author, mentor, speaker, journalist and entrepreneur. I hope you catch the same light of inspiration that I’ve discovered in her. Susan frequently sends out very thoughtful quotes that I always find encouraging. Here’s a few.
If someone’s energy tries to damper your light, protect your spark even when he or she is blind to the fire within you.
~ Susan McIntire
Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite…
~ Robert McKee
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
~ Edgar Degas
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
~ Thomas Merton
What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.
If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.
Alright, so let’s learn a little more about guest…
Can you tell me where you went to school? I saw that you studied Journalism, cool! Why journalism?
I went to the University of South Carolina College of Journalism, where I also attended the South Carolina Honors College. I wanted to be a journalist from the age of 7 when I first wrote to the Ft. Myers “News Press,” asking to write two pages of children’s news. They turned me down but offered a tour of the paper instead. My mother thought they were just humoring me, so she never took them up on it. I kept writing and became President of the Florida Scholastic Press Association and our high school newspaper staff attended the Southern Interscholastic Press Association convention at USC. I also had an internship with the Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism that was then called the Modern Media Institute. All of that experience is what lead to my attending USC with a journalism scholarship.
Wow. I find it amazing that you knew what you really wanted at age 7. I’m just now figuring that out for myself!
Tell me about your career path, and how it’s course has brought you to
where you are today.
To be honest, because I had already had an internship with what’s now called the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL, I was bored in my journalism classes. I interned at the “State Newspaper” in Columbia, SC during college and while I enjoyed it, I took note that nobody working there seemed to look happy (I’m sure some people were but in my youth, that was my impression)! I also realized that journalism was a business more than anything and I got sort of turned off by that as I was much more interested in telling a good story vs. having to write about something that would sell like stories about Michael Jackson (and this was in the 1980’s).
After that, I switched tracks to ad/pr because I already knew how to write and I wanted to learn something for my money. Tuition costs went up 70% during my four years and I didn’t have a full ride but I had to re-apply for a scholarship every year. I worked almost full-time while attending school as well. I tried to work in my field. I wanted to get something out of my education but when I changed over to ad/pr, my friends all thought I was a traitor for leaving the newspaper track! Ad/PR wasn’t my passion like reporting had been but I was curious about it. At least if it was business related, it was pretty straight forward. I have to say I continue to see examples of journalism/media geared for ratings to this day and it is always disappointing to me but people are becoming more conscious of it.
I totally understand about being turned off about the business side of things. Sounds like it really had a impact on you. Sounds like you had quite a bit of experience as well negotiating licenses (not as a in-house employee) in the Ad/PR realm with working with Disney, Hasbro, NBA, Target, Wal-Mart etc. But I find it equally fascinating that retained that love of writing and storytelling throughout the years.
Did something or someone in your youth affect your love of writing or helping others?
I think I answered this one already in the above.
Can you tell us a little about what you do now?
I went on to have a successful ad/pr career where I worked with some very high profile companies (think Oscar Mayer, Godfather’s Pizza etc.) but found it be hollow. It never really mattered to me how many hot dogs or pizza my work helped to sell. It’s not surprising that I didn’t find it that rewarding, since I sort of fell into it. My friends were right that I probably would have found more sense of worth by sticking with journalism even with the lack of control over the story assignments.
I came from a family of writers and it was heart-breaking to me that my mother kept procrastinating about her writing until retirement and then she died in a kayaking accident a year after she retired. She had received one rejection letter from a publisher. It had a profound effect on me and motivated me to want to help other writers not to die with a book in them, similar to the cliché of not dying with your music still inside. Since the self-publishing technological advances have enabled everyone to be a master of their own destiny in that area, I just have felt a calling to help support authors in their efforts.
That’s a very powerful story and very touching. You must be a very passionate person. In that regard, we must be siblings. My father died of bone cancer in 2012 when he was only 60. The impact was very crippling. The last time I saw him it felt like he wanted to tell me something. Kind of like unfinished business. The look on his face is forever seared into memory. On my side, I needed to tell him something as well. Rather I just wanted what any other kid wanted from his dad, a father son connection. He died two months later while I was driving to see him. That suffering has motivated me to appreciate the ones around me while they’re still here.
Can you tell us about your blog?
My blog is very neglected. I spend more time writing longer works behind the scenes that I will turn into books and I need to pay more attention to blogging. I’ve not been too concerned about building a following there or being famous in any way. I suppose I haven’t found the internal reason for blogging as much as I have the short motivational/inspirational posts I put out on social media that people seem to enjoy.
You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
Aside from the answers to the pre-interview questions, I’ve just always been a writer and a storyteller. My mom told me that my first grade teacher, Mrs. Dawson, was amazed that the first thing I ever wrote for her was three sentences long and included a beginning, middle and end. She’d never seen that before.
I don’t really need inspiration because writing is just how I’m wired. Words just come to me without very much effort. I can say the same thing about fifty different ways. And I do. I do write stream of consciousness, but when I edit, I edit a ton.
That’s awesome Susan. A writer and a storyteller. I’m loving this one “I don’t really need inspiration because writing is just how I’m wired.” Sweet. I’m finding a lot of what you say is very quotable.
What’s your GOAL now in this stage of your career?
My goal first and foremost is to help other writers. I see myself as a tool to support other writers more than worrying about my own writing career. I always write too because I can’t coach other writers if I’m not experiencing the process as well. I think if I’d not become a journalist, I wanted to be a teacher and I always felt someday I would become a teacher but I wanted life experience first. So for me, it’s a pretty natural progression.
I love that you’ve always knew your aim in life, even as a child. You love writing and storytelling yet your priority is to help other writers. That’s very touching. Please feel free to come back anytime! Seriously, I definitely would love to have you back here. “..I can’t coach other writers if I’m not experiencing the process as well.”
As writers we’re all “experiencing the process”, this really does make us siblings in the craft then. When I really consider this statement, writing sounds mysteriously dynamic. We’re all in the this thing called “the process”. Everyone’s process is uniquely different, yet the same in other regards. It’s mind boggling.
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Or what have you observed in other writers?
The number one thing that keeps me from completing projects is “shiny ball syndrome.” I have multiple books at about the 2/3 way part when I decide that something else is more important and start something new. I don’t like feeling like a factory, so I’m okay with that and switching things up. Sometimes I’ve taken a break and sold my art as well and I’ve had a lot of very positive feedback from that. There’s a great satisfaction of knowing that someone loves your art so much that they hang it in the entrance to their home or in their living room. It was pretty enlightening to me that I enjoyed making people happy in that way and it’s a thank you or a recognition in a way that I never felt as a writer. So, I try to balance my creative endeavors.
Ah, the ol’ shiny ball syndrome eh? A lot of us know it all too well unfortunately. I definitely have my shiny moments in many things. I’m probably ADHD.
“Well Bob, which idea do we build with today?”
*shrugs shoulders* “I don’t know”
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
While some people may think it’s silly, I feel great when people acknowledge that some little tweet I put out was just the thought or idea that they needed to hear at that moment to help them move forward in a work. I think my mom is always in the back of my mind and it motivates me to help others achieve their dreams.
I love your tweets! They’re very special and thoughtful. You’ve got your work cut out for you though. As you know, besides coffee, writers need boatloads of encouragement and inspiration. So keep up the good work we’re going to need it!
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Routine. I always feel guilty for the difficulty I have in sticking to routine but it’s just not me. I know what to do but I suppose I don’t have the desire necessary to routinize my day. I allow myself to be more creative with my day which may both help and hurt me at times.
Now I’m really convinced your’e my big sister. You just described my entire life in a nutshell.
What’s been your experience as a mentor?
One of my favorite experiences was a random mentoring opportunity that had nothing to do with writing. A few years ago one of my Instagram followers was down around Christmas time and posted about how he was not looking forward to the New Year but I was the only person who replied.( I don’t understand that about our society though. I wish people would be more attentive even to acquaintances. The world would be a lot better place.)
Anyway, he needed a bit of advice both for his career and personal life and I helped him during a transition period to get a great job and improve his personal life. He wrote me the nicest thank you and still will send me an occasional text for well wishes on various holidays. He’s a dear friend and I’m really proud of him. It just goes to show how one person can really make a difference for someone if they just take a bit of time to connect. It felt great to be able to help and see him shine as he already had a lot going for him and just needed a bit of temporary guidance.
You’re testimony reminded of a TED talk given by bestselling author Amalie Jahn of the YA Clay Lion series. The impact of kindness is powerful.
Has your experience as a journalist helped you as a writer?
I suppose my journalism experience took the fear of editing out of me. I know it’s just part of the process and don’t worry about the fact that what I put down may look a lot different in the end.
Hah! Losing the fear of editing would be great! Must be nice.
Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?
I think most people do a pretty good job at second guessing themselves with a lot of unnecessary negative self-talk. First, they make the mistake of showing their writing to a family member or friend and if they get the typical bad reaction, they take it to heart when in fact that person may not be the right audience or have the expertise to really give appropriate feedback. Second, if a writer has early success, they may experience imposter syndrome, meaning that they don’t feel worthy of the accolades so they sort of shut down. Third, I think a majority of people just let life get in the way and don’t make writing a priority because they don’t have a clear vision of their dream.
So true. We need to surround ourselves with positive people who will support achievement of our dreams.
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
I would say that you’re not just letting yourself down but you’re letting the world down because you are the only person who can put your spin on things. Your voice will never be heard unless you make the effort to express yourself and we are all richer in connection when you put your thoughts out there. Yes, they may need polishing and no, not everyone is going to write a Pulitzer Prize winning novel but I believe as I did when I was seven-years-old that everyone has worth and has a story to tell that benefits us all. If anything, tell yourself you will write for just five minutes tonight after dinner. Keep the expectations low and doable and reward yourself when you succeed in writing for those five minutes. Soon, you’ll be in flow and the writing will become easier but don’t overdo it. The idea is to go for consistency.
“Everyone has worth and has a story to tell” I love that. Awesome!
Owning a pen does not make you a writer but not using it is like lamenting missing a plane to your future when you had a ticket at your disposal.
~ Susan McIntire
Thanks so much for joining us Susan! Please come again!
Lastly, we’ll end with Susan’s favorite quote:
“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” ~ Ernest Hemingway