“Lives cannot be changed from the outside, but only from within. Thus art and literature can be instrumental in changing lives.”
As a young lady, Susan Sanderson found herself standing in the local library, gazing at the countless books on the shelves and dreaming of becoming a writer one day. “One of my earliest ambitions was to be a writer,” she shares. “My family discouraged me, but writing has been an important part of my work, both paid and voluntary.”
A British wife and grandmother, Susan grew up in the suburbs south of London, studied in Manchester, and has had the privilege of living in three different English counties. About twenty years ago, she decided to begin working on her long-time dream of becoming a writer.
“My first attempts at writing for publication beyond the church magazine were around twenty years ago, when my son and daughter were both at school and I had some peace during the day,” Susan explains. “After completing a correspondence course on writing for children and having all my submissions to publishers rejected, I more or less gave up. Then, after being part of a wonderful group of women, using The Amazing Collection for Women from Big Dream Ministries, I decided to have another go at writing. I soon began to blog (Sue’s Considered Trifles) as a way of sharing a project on the English language. I’d describe myself more as a Christian who writes than a Christian writer, although I have joined the Association of Christian Writers.”
When asked what sort of topics she blogs about, Susan explained that readers can find a little bit of everything on her site! “Anything which interests me may become part of my second blog,” she smiles. “I am still experimenting with types of writing. ‘How to’ posts, poems, humour, responses to prompts from various sources, as well as book reviews and just a little about places I have been to and people I have observed (or even talked to) appear on Sue’s Trifles.”
When questioned about which authors have inspired her the most, Susan recalls her early days, gazing at rows and rows of beautiful books in the library. “Having read lots of books, it is hard to pick out a few authors and poets,” she replies. “In my teens I was greatly influenced by the writing of the Inklings. I borrowed everything I could find in the library by C. S. Lewis. I read books by Charles Williams and J.R.R. Tolkien. Roger Lancelyn Green had rewritten the Greek Myths, The Tale of Troy and the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table for children, and I read and re-read these. George MacDonald, who influenced C.S. Lewis, was also a favorite author. I also particularly enjoyed the Father Brown series by G.K Chesterton and the Don Camillo stories by Giovanni Guareschi. More recently I have particularly enjoyed books by Maeve Binchy, Susan Howatch, Francine Rivers and Alexander McCall Smith among many others. Some reviews of books I have read appear on my blog.”
Like many writers, Susan has learned to draw inspiration from the little surprises one finds in everyday life. “I am inspired by all sorts of things,” she says. “A day out in the countryside resulted in a poem, reading books or blogs and everyday events and conversations have led me to write down my thoughts for others to read. Everyone has a story. How to tell it can be tricky.”
While Susan acknowledges that her Christian faith plays an important role in her life as a writer, she strives to produce material that will appeal to a wider audience. “My aim is not to write exclusively for believers,” she explains. “Having had some knowledge of Christianity from childhood, my ideas are bound to be influenced by this, but I only occasionally write a post about faith. There are many aspects of life which are likely to be of interest to people of all faiths and none.”
Every once in a while, however, Susan’s faith will shine through brilliantly in her writing. “Occasionally I find that I write something (perhaps in a poem) I had no idea about before I began,” she recalls. “An example is a poem, which began about spring weather and turned into something more profound.” (See the poem here: https://suestrifles.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/poetry-in-lent/ )
Though Susan has yet to publish a book, she absolutely believes that art and writing have the power to change lives. “Many people would agree that a good story is more effective in changing ideas and attitudes than telling it straight,” says Susan. “Lives cannot be changed from the outside, but only from within. Thus art and literature can be instrumental in changing lives. My life is also in need of change in some areas; reading helps me to recognize my own faults.”
There are sure to be other Christians out there who, like Susan, catch themselves wandering into their local library or bookstore just to gaze at the wonderful array of books and dream of becoming a published author one day. To these fellow writers, Susan offers the following advice: “Enjoy your art. Practice techniques. Become a skilled worker at whatever type of art you are producing. Observe, pray, and be creative. Consider joining with other artists for encouragement.”
Thank you, Susan, for sharing your story and for serving as an encouragement to other writers who share a common dream!
“Enjoy your art. Observe, pray, and be creative.”
Are you a Christian artist or writer who would like to be featured as part of my Featured Christian Artist Series? Simply send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and a brief list of interview questions will be sent to you!