Hi! I’m Susan Lundberg, known on Twitter as Susan Canary or @black_canary02. I write poetry to post on Twitter, and also comic book reviews for The Pullbox (www.ThePullbox.com). Not yet a professional writer, I have a mundane job in customer service for an international company. However, I think I’ve been tapped to write for every job I’ve ever had.
MM: What do you love most about writing? What speaks to you?
SL: I’ve always been a reader, and would read anything I could find. When you’re a kid at home for the summer and there’s no one to take you to the library, that means you read whatever is on the bookshelf at home, whether it’s appropriate for your age level or not. My sister was reading “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair for a college class when I was 12, and I just picked it up one day, but I’d been reading classic writers for some time. I love language and clever turns of phrase.
MM: So, what have you written?
SL: As mentioned, my non-work related writings include nearly four years’ worth of almost daily Twitter poetry, plus random comic reviews for The Pullbox. I had two poems published in Carl Smith’s “Be Careful What You Wish For” horror anthology in 2015.
MM: When did you know writing was for you?
SL: was trying to work through some big emotions at one time in my life, and so I’d tried doing some drawing and watercolor painting, but it was so laborious and time-consuming for me, and it never came out looking the way I wanted it to, so I added in some words and realized that if I’d listened to my college English professor (“You write too well to be a science major”), I’d be in a field for which I have a modicum of talent. All the words were there in my head, and I just had to arrange them.
MM: What are you working on at this minute? What was the inspiration for it?
SL: Right now, I’m working on my first poetry collection, kind of a collaboration between myself and some artists that I know from comics and from the internet. One of my professional artist friends asked me how the poetry-writing was going, to which I said “Oh, fine.” Then the kicker was “…and when are you going to publish?” Which started a discussion between him and my friend about how my poetry book would feature all my art friends, and then he offered to do a piece for it. They were all so positive, as is my husband, that I actually considered it as a doable thing. I’m culling through old poetry now, so will likely publish next year.
MM: What was the first story you ever remember writing, and what was it about? How does it compare to your writing now?
SL: The first story I’d ever wrote was in 2nd grade, and it was about my friend that died in a car accident when I was in kindergarten. I don’t remember the story exactly, but I know it caused a meeting at school with my parents and my teacher. Turns out I’d just been sitting on the story until I knew enough about writing to put it down on paper. It was also emotionally influenced, so I guess that’s my M.O.
MM: Do you work to an outline or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Plotter or Pantser?
SL: For poetry, I generally work from the gut – the words fall out and the poem is done. I will work the wording for length or to remove redundancy or repetition, but mostly it’s an open vent from my brain to the paper. When I have to write an actual story, though, I have a plan of where I want to end up and work that direction.
MM: What draws you to flash-fiction, to #FP? What do you love and hate about it?
SL: Sometimes restrictions cause you to be a better writer. When I write poems for Twitter, the brevity is forced (although we all know there are ways around that) and often I’ll cut opening explanation to get the meaning out. Prompts and guidelines are great for that.
MM: Who are your writing inspirations? How do they influence your creativity?
SL: Truthfully, I’m totally inspired by other poets I’ve read on Twitter, like Nina Loard, Jim Macintosh, and so many others. My classic inspiration is Robert Frost. In Frost’s world, a path might be metaphorical, but it’s still a path.
MM: What is your favorite motivational phrase or musing on writing, and why? What about it really hits home?
SL: Hemingway said “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” We are all writers, some are better than others, but not being paid to do so does not make one less of a writer. I don’t aspire to write; I write. I aspire to be paid to do so.
MM: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
SL: The hardest thing about writing is to write someone else’s story. I’ve been asked a couple of times to write creative pieces for others based on their ideas, and I always overwork it and make it less than it should be. I can write factual essays about anything, but creativity is not an “on demand” thing for me.
MM: What do you tell yourself every time it gets hard? Every time the stars stop aligning? What do you do when writer’s block knocks on your creative door?
SL: Every time writing gets hard, I remember that I do need some rest from trying to get the right emotional pitch every time, but then I just need to keep writing. Even a haiku or a six-word story is writing. I can talk about the weather and still write. That’s also a good time for me to do reviews. Finally, if nothing else is working, I’ll read other poets, fiction, comic, but real published things and stop distracting myself with the internet.
MM: Do you have any secret and wacky writing rituals that help the words flow?
SL: Nothing too secret or wacky. I listen to a lot of music for writing, but usually instrumentals – jazz or classical – so that the lyrics don’t get in the way of my writing. I also walk outside most days, and just zipping my phone into my pocket and leaving it there makes nature so much easier to hear. The wind and the trees and the water all talk to you if you listen.
MM: What advice would you give to aspiring writers and poets, anyone who wants to free the art within? What helped you make it to this point?
SL: If you want to create, whether it’s drawing or painting or writing words or music, do it every day. That’s how you get better. Find honest mentors to check your work out and give feedback, because even though your inspiration makes you unique, there is always more to know.
MM: What genres do you find yourself most drawn to? In your books and in your #FP’s?
SL: I like writing poetry, but I don’t have a ton of patience for reading it. Most classical poets take too long to get to the point, in my opinion. That’s why I like Twitter poetry so much. It’s succinct. Other than that, I like a good story in any genre, although I will waste a lot of time on mysteries and fiction with a little romance. Short stories that I’ve written lately have been romance stories, but those were on spec and didn’t go anywhere.
MM: Sooo … reading anything good lately? Any recommendations?
SL: There is a wealth of excellent writing in comic books and graphic novels. Anyone who says there isn’t hasn’t read Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” or anything by Terry Moore. Otherwise, I’ve been reading horror novels by Michael Carey (“The Girl With All the Gifts” was amazing, and he just keeps on with it) and Paul Cornell (starting with “London Falling,” and going onward). I’ll get more reading in this winter.
MM: Any last thoughts for our readers?
SL: Readers, just remember to get up from your desks sometimes and live. Try new things. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Dance, either poorly or well. Give yourself something to write about.
MM: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
SL: I post poetry most days to Twitter @black_canary02. If you’d like to hear me read poems out loud, I record them sometimes at audioboom.com/black_canary02. I had a Tumblr at one time, but I think it’s expired. Oh, and comics reviews by me can be read at www.ThePullbox.com.