Questions & Answers

Writers are often asked questions – about their writing or their life in connection to their writing. I thought that I would answer a few of them here. Please check back to this page from time to time as I will answer one or two new questions every few months and put the ones already here into an archive.

Susan sitting on steps
When did you first know you wanted to become a writer?

In probably one of the strangest places you can imagine – the top bunk of a youth hostel in 1972. I am somewhat psychic and through my life I have had a few instances where some kind of other worldly connection has happened to me. In those moments there is a certainty about something important. I know the vision I have just had in my head is going to be true even if all reason, and everyone I know, tries to tell me it is not possible.

I’m not much of a poet but I once wrote this for a contest and it tells better than in a longer, prose version how I first knew I WAS a writer, albeit perhaps a writer-in-waiting:

on top

when the trip of my life
birthed the journey for my life
I could never have seen it at the time
blinding flashes often come to us
when we are not thinking about them
when we have gotten out of our own way
when they have time to find us
sleeping in the top bunk at a youth hostel

I should go back to the beginning
believe me when I say neither of us
wants to suffer that entire journey
so I will be brief about my childhood

bored and unintentionally underachieving
a terrible student in school
no doubt about it
unhappy and unloved
feeling unwanted at home
no doubt about that either
unwelcome there but needed too
this left me feeling obligated
suffocated and sad inside
university rescued me from there
as boarding school had done
so many years earlier
there was a difference this time
I started to get good grades
it was a shock to find out I was smart
yet on graduation I was bereft of
inspiration or ambition for my life
it was nothing but a bad dream

with no future mapped out
I still had a plan
a friend and I would travel Europe
sold clothes for $1.56 an hour
in twelve months we were ready

the trip released my soul
I could breathe
finally my person inside burst out
as though it had waited a lifetime
to be heard
it had
there was no one to look after
but myself
my friend and I laughed a lot
I embraced life in a new way
looked forward to every morning

the universe watched as
I trekked through Europe
waiting for that me inside
to completely show up

then suddenly it happened
as it would again in the future
but this one in the top bunk
the most dramatic
I woke up in a sweat
my face and neck moist
with a feeling beyond explanation
I sat bolt upright and I knew
I was going to be a writer
no wish or thought or maybe
I was going to be a writer
I already was a writer

excitement gripped me and I
needed to share it with my friend
of course at 3:00 in the morning
my companion was less than excited

wake up, wake up I said
leaning over from my lofty perch
finally I climbed down
shaking her until she awoke
I told her my news
I know what I’m going to do
with the rest of my life
she thought I had completely
lost my mind
I’m going to be a writer
that’s nice she told me
now go back to sleep

there it was
it was out in the open
I need to be honest here
there was never an inkling
not even the slightest hint
that this road was open for me
we returned home after four months
it took only five weeks
I began working as a reporter
at a major newspaper
shocking my family but not me
40 years later
my books are across the country
I am nowhere near finished

so there you have it
either I had a revelation in that bunk
or I simply woke up startled from a nightmare
hell I don’t know

there are many amazing days with my writing
I think either way it was the same thing!

What made you decide to become a writer?

I believe I was born a writer, born to use my words to help this world in some small way. I just did not see it for many years. As you can see from my experience in the youth hostel above, I think at that defining moment I realized I actually was a writer already. It was so clear and obvious I did not know how I could have missed it. From then on I have actively written, whether for the newspaper, a contest, myself or in the hopes of publication in book form. I see myself as a writer who does other things to survive but always a writer at my centre.

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.
– David Sedaris


  1. Lesley Barnett
    Oct 9, 2014

    Hello Sue,
    A voice from your past. Just downloaded your book and am enjoying reading as well as learning if your success as an author. Would love to hear from you.
    Cheers, Lesley

    • Susan McNicoll
      Oct 24, 2014

      Hi Lesley
      Thanks for finding me! I hope you continue to enjoy the book. Will be in touch, Sue

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *