Dear Susu #1: Read Me, See Me, Like Me
"Why do I continually write for the writing to continue to sit unused, lonely?"
In lieu of Studio Visits, we’re doing something a little different: an advice column called Dear Susu.
Each month, I’ll be answering questions about anything and everything—writing, life, dogs, art, or why I’m in a French linen dress in the bough of a huge tree.
Today’s question is from Jeanne, who feels the urge to write but isn’t sure how to share her words with the world.
Why do I continually pay money to have strangers read my writing for the writing to continue to sit unused, lonely? I feel like my words are beggars: Read me, see me, like me.
I’m almost fifty years old, with three teenagers and work full time as an administrative law judge, yet all I want to do is to write. I follow my favorite writers on social media and feel like they’re my friends—but of course, that’s a fiction. I wake early in the morning just to have alone time with my words. I sign up for classes—sometimes taught by these professional writers—just for feedback. Then, I stalk the responses, receive them, and do nothing with them. I don’t know what to do with any of it!
My words are begging me to find them a place. But for as many prompts as I do—for as many words as I produce—for as many people I pay to read them, they remain stuck. I’m stuck.
Please help if you can. I know you’re not my friend—but that does not stop me from sending you my gratitude for what you put out in the world. You make beauty. I would love to do the same.
I’ve felt compelled to write and have wanted people to read my words for as long as I can remember. I began in my childhood journal, writing short sketches, then moved on to longer fictional stories in middle and high school. In college, I desperately wanted to get into Princeton’s creative writing program, which is famous for its famous writer-teachers like Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffrey Eugenides, and John McPhee.
For weeks leading up to the application deadline, I would begin writing a short story, scrawling in longhand some Paul Bowles-esque plot set in Tunisia, only to stop halfway through and tear it up. I did this again and again for weeks, until the night the application was due, when I dashed something off and sent it in. I don’t even remember anything about the story, it was so hurried, so last minute. In hindsight, I see it as near complete self-sabotage.
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