“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~George Bernard Shaw
A while back, I was given the distinct honor of being awarded recognition for this blog by a reader, Julie@Gardening Jules. And I promised that I would do a few interviews in recognition of the honor. Finally, I am getting around to the first interview, and it is indeed a special interview with author and blogger, Susan Troccolo.
I met Susan Troccolo in this wonderful blogging world almost 3 years ago when Susan found my garden blog, Gardens Eye View. Somehow we both found our way to writing for the wonderful website, Vision and Verb, which is no longer online. When I heard she was writing a new book, I decided I had to interview Susan.
Susan has been on this journey of writing a book for a while now, and I am learning so much from her. She has just released her first ebook, The Beet Goes On, which consists of 4 essays. As Susan says this will be ‘a taste of what’s to come’. Eventually these four stories will be among the twenty or so included in her next collection, and I can’t wait for that collection. So sit back, relax and enjoy this wonderful conversation with an amazing woman and author…..
1. Susan I am so glad to have found you online through blogging. I always find it interesting how folks get into blogging. Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog because I knew that I had another book in me and I wanted to connect with more readers, the kind of readers that I thought might like my stories. You know, it’s funny, even traditional New York based publishers are advising their authors to start up a blog. This is not just for the Indies anymore. All book promotion is basically done by the author herself. I also was hoping, really hoping, that I could create something beautiful and fun and make new online friends. It has worked out that way!
2. Susan I really enjoy my visits to your blog, and have always been intrigued by its name. What is the significance of the title of your blog?
Well, at first, it was purely a funny thought that came into my mind. It was me poking fun (in a tongue-in-cheek way) at all the three word titles out there now. My humor is a little quirky. Also, my blog covers so many topics that I needed to find something that would embrace a lot of life using the metaphor of the garden. It was: Life (with a big L), Change (our own aging process,) and Compost, (the mess it all makes in the process!) Gradually other people started providing other ideas that had significance for them regarding the significance of compost. They saw it as the gradual breaking down of all the elements of life into something rich, and nurturing for new growth. It became a metaphor that had more than one meaning and I like that: readers can make of it what they want. I always try to give readers an opportunity to make something I write their own.
3. The creative spirit seems so much a part of you. What are some of your creative endeavors that make your heart sing?
I’ve been a guitar player since I was seven. Teaching guitar was my first job at fifteen, through the Parks & Recreation Department where I lived. I love bluegrass—I used to be a pretty mean flat-picker, and I love blues. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed arthritis in my hands and so a lot of that skill is lost. But I’ll always play the guitar, I just love it. I also love speaking Italian. The sound is like singing. And I get to use my hands to make a point-:)
4. And what is your creative process?
That’s a tough one. I have to work really hard not to sabotage myself with thinking that my creative work needs to be good coming out of the gate. I think it was Anne Lamott who said: Write shitty first drafts! Those were her words exactly. For example, if I just scratch things out when I’m in a vulnerable and open space and write in a plain, lined, school-type notebook, then I’m less concerned with expecting great things from the writing at first. (There will be plenty of drafts and editing to follow!) I guess I’d have to say my creative process is trying to get free. Also, my best stories have come to me in the middle of the night. I have woken up laughing; honestly it’s happened three times with pieces I’ve sold to online magazines. Usually it’s something that makes me laugh or makes me cry.
5. What new form of arts or craft would you like to learn?
I’d like to get better at cooking. I’m the one that always brings the salads to the Pot Luck Dinners! They are pretty good salads, but I get tired of making them.
6. Do you have a favorite space or spot that is sacred in or around your home?
Two places really. My office and the garden. My office has a Tibetan Thanka on the wall and I meditate there. In the spring, summer, and fall, I like nothing more than to take my coffee outside in my jammies and putter in the garden.
7. I know you have traveled to many places in the world, so where would you like to travel next?
I’ve never been to Scotland and I’ve never seen Alaska, the inland passage. I’d also love to rent a cottage in the Cotswolds and just relax after the year I’ve had! So many losses.
8. Oh I would love a cottage in the Cotswolds. Let’s shift gears now. Tell me what famous person or not so famous person would you like to meet?
I’d love to meet Michelle Obama and her mother. What a mother she must have! I’d also like to meet Anne Lamott and the Jungian writer James Hillman. Oh, and Michael Pollen—what a thoroughly enjoyable writer he is!
9. Now that is an interesting collection of people. Susan, what is or would have been your dream career or job?
I wish I could have made it as a Country Western Singer in the old days, not now though, when everything is so over-produced. I know that sounds silly; but what a hoot! Unfortunately, my singing isn’t up to snuff. I play guitar better than I can sing.
Here’s a little treat. Susan singing and playing the guitar. I think she would have made a fine entertainer….
10. If it is possible to pick a favorite book, what would you choose?
Two very different ones come to mind: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and the most exciting adventure story I know: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. Oh, and anything by MFK Fisher. Oh, and A Passage to India by E.M. Forster.
11. You just finished writing the ebook, The Beet Goes On, and are writing a bigger collection of stories. Can you tell us a bit about why you wanted to write this collection? How does it fulfill part of your soul’s journey?
I want to write about aging to help myself understand it. I have found that the garden is the perfect metaphor for the process of life and death, the seasons of our lives. I also know that because of the cancers that I’ve had and recovered from, I still hold fear in my body. I want to learn to release that fear. I’m hoping the book—as much work as it is—will give me some peace at heart.
The larger print book will come out in early 2016.
12. Can you tell us anything about the process that you went through in creating your book that was a great lesson or an aha moment…words of wisdom?
I really push myself too hard. And my body always pays the price. I would never think of someone like Clint Eastwood as being a model of aging (!?!), but I read the other day that he said: “if you just relax, it can be fun.” Good old Clint. Imagine that. But I liked what he said. In that moment I got it. Just kick off your shoes, and relax. There is nothing to prove. Also I have a note in one of my garden journals that reads: Dreamt I was Clint Eastwood. Woke up. I AM Clint Eastwood! It cracked me up. That’s the post-menopausal woman for you—we are forces of nature.
13. Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?
Right now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all I need to learn to put forth my best work. Whether you go traditional , or indie, writing a book is hard work. The social media piece alone is daunting. I pray to be able to do it with joy…in fact I have a note on my computer from Jennifer Richardson that says: “As easy joy about it all.” That’s all I want. But I can tell you that the people who have shown up on my blog have really helped me in ways I wouldn’t have expected. These readers and other bloggers keep me writing. They make me want to tell my truth and to keep putting it out there. I couldn’t be more grateful. Beyond that, it really is day by day.
Well I really enjoyed this time with Susan. Like I said, I always learn so much when I talk with Susan. Please make sure you visit Susan Troccolo in all the wonderful places she hangs out:
If you would like a free copy of Susan’s new ebook, just subscribe to her blog, Life-Change-Compost. You can also purchase the ebook on Amazon. If you have any problems downloading the ebook, please email Susan at at firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan will have a print copy of The Beet Goes On for purchase from Amazon soon. If you would like to win a print copy of The Beet Goes On, leave a comment here, and LIKE Susan’s Facebook author page. Then your name will be placed in a hat for the chance to win this wonderful book. I will choose a name at noon on August 2nd, and email the winner.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015. Photos are the sole property of Susan Troccolo and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.