THE SUMMER CONFERENCE SET ME ON THE ROAD TO BOOK AUTHOR
I can now call myself an award-winning author, but back when I was working in the business world and fantasizing about writing, the IWWG Summer Conference helped me move from dreaming to actually writing. It began the very first evening when I shared a cab from the airport with two other women.
“Are you a writer?” one asked me.
I hemmed. I hawed. “Well, not really, I mean, uh, I’d like to be. Some day.”
“Do you write anything now?” asked the other.
“Some poetry, but—”
“Never mind,” she interrupted. “If you’re writing poetry, you’re a writer.”
“But I haven’t published anything,” I protested.
“Doesn’t matter,” the second woman said. “If you don’t call yourself a writer, who else will?”
We role played. They asked if I was a writer and worked on me until I could reply without stammering or blushing. They changed my whole mindset, and that was just in the cab!
I stayed for the entire conference, taking classes on Fiction, Setting, Dialogue, Plot, and, of course, Poetry. I also made a face mask and attended Opening Day at the race track. I met amazing women. One of them, Joanne Hameister, encouraged me to read my poems at the evening open mic. She and others helped me rehearse. While I had experience with public speaking—on subjects I knew something about—this was different. This was exposing my vulnerabilities, my innermost thoughts and feelings, myself. Joanne insisted I could do it, even when I was sure I’d throw up on the stage. I’d never read my work to anyone and now I was going to do it to an audience of a hundred women, all, I was sure, better and more qualified writers than I?
When my turn came, I read my first poem, and something magical happened. The audience responded. I could see some women wiping away tears. After my humorous poem, they laughed, actually laughed. When I was done, they applauded! Of course, they applauded every reader, but it felt momentous to me. A member of the audience told me later she loved my “voice.” I had no idea what that meant, but I knew it was good from the way she said it. Joanne and I have been friends ever since.
I was so energized by each day, I’d flow back to my room buzzing with creativity and write poetry into the night. Like a real writer.
Other summers I took other classes from different teachers, learned heaps more, wrote more, and also learned to juggle and face-paint. A teacher and I stayed in contact. I bought the books my teachers had written and, in this way, kept learning from them long after the conference ended. Eventually, I quit my business career to devote myself full-time to writing.
Now I’ve published poetry, short stories, essays, articles and, at long last, a book. My memoir, 48 PEAKS, Hiking and Healing in the White Mountains, was published in September, 2018 by She Writes Press. Since then, I’ve given over forty readings at bookstores, libraries, college clubs, sports clubs, girls’ schools, and even churches where I talk about the spirituality of nature. I’ve been interviewed on radio and cable stations and had the book reviewed by print media, Kirkus Reviews, and readers online. My book tour has taken me to numerous states. Recently, 48 PEAKS won a Silver Medal in the 2019 Independent Publishers Book Awards.
Though some days I still wonder if I actually finished the book, I’m grateful to say I’ve had a full author experience, like a real writer. And it all began when I treated myself to the amazing richness of an IWWG Summer Conference. Trust me, it will enhance your life and your writing. Who knows what road it will set you on?
Award-winning author of 48 PEAKS, Hiking and Healing in the White Mountains
An inspiring story of adventure and persistence
Cheryl Suchors is the award-winning author of 48 PEAKS, Hiking and Healing in the White Mountains, published by She Writes Press in September, 2018. Click here to learn more about the book.
48 PEAKS won a Silver Medal from Independent Publishers Book Awards. Kirkus Reviews called the book, “An inspiring yet relatable true story with exciting scenes and plenty of heart.” BookBub included it as one of “10 Life Changing Memoirs To Pick Up This Fall.” The Culturalist listed it as one of the “Top Ten Travel and Adventure Memoirs That Will Leave You Inspired”, and PopSugar chose the book as one of “7 New Nonfiction Books for People Who Don’t Like Nonfiction,” right alongside Michelle Obama’s memoir.
Cheryl’s work has appeared in literary journals, online, in a sports magazine and an anthology. She lives in MA with her husband and plants and wishes their grown daughter lived nearby. She’s been a member of IWWG since the 1980s.