I caught up with Susannah Conway in between her book edits, traveling, and the daily work that keeps her blog pumping. She is a busy writer, teacher, artist, and aunt. I left lucky to get a glimpse into her world to share here with you all. Do enjoy it!
What do you see when you look out your studio/office window? How does this view influence your work?
The great thing about living in an attic flat on top of a hill is the view. First I see the sky, then the top of the huge horse chestnut tree opposite my building, then the very pretty rooftops of Bath. In the distance I see fields and hedgerows. It’s all ridiculously picturesque and helps me feel less trapped when I’m stuck working at home all day.
Morning drink of choice?
A big glass of sparkling water (refilled constantly throughout the day) and a black coffee made with freshly ground beans in my trusty cafetiere.
Favorite meal of the day?
Lunch. Breaks up the day and gets me off the computer for a while. I like to make a meal from scratch — stir fries, salads, stews and soups — but sardines and avocado on toast are also a favourite (and so quick to make!)
What tends to be your muse, if you have one?
My life is my muse. Everything I do, everywhere I go, everything I learn, is fuel for my creativity.
How did you get started with your current medium?
I’ve always been creative. As a kid I was constantly drawing and reading and putting together scrapbooks of pictures I wanted to keep, so I knew I’d end up at art college when I left school. It was there that I discovered photography was my great love — three years in a darkroom sealed that love! Between then and now I got a degree in journalism, worked at a national newspaper and later went freelance. In 2005 the man I loved died from a heart attack, and it was my journey through bereavement that helped me find my way back to what mattered to me most — my creativity. I started blogging, picked up a camera again and now I can’t imagine my life without words and images in it.
You just finished some major edits on your upcoming book. How does it feel to nearly be a published author?
It feels really fantastic and utterly terrifying.
Tell us about why you decided to write a book.
The one constant in my life has been books. I’ve always been a bookworm, so I guess it’s not surprising that I wanted to write a book of some description some day. I made many attempts over the years, but it was being approached by a publisher that made it happen for real. Nikki Hardin, the publisher and founder of Skirt magazine, had taken my Unravelling class and emailed me to let me know that if I ever put a book proposal together she’d like to see it. I put my proposal together, Nikki forwarded it to Mary Norris, the commissioning editor for the Skirt imprint at Globe Pequot Press, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned about yourself while writing this book?
I learned so much about writing, editing and perseverance as I wrote the book, but the greatest discovery was that I really was capable of writing a whole book! Even if no one ever reads it or buys a copy, I can go to my grave knowing I achieved at least one of my ambitions— it’s made me wonder what else on my “maybe one day” list I could make happen.
Earlier this year you released a podcast with Marisa Anne about creating and running ecourses. This is a great resource now the online creative community is growing and more ecourses are being launched. If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to create an ecourse, what would it be?
Make videos. In my two+ years of leading my course online, the most common feedback I get from my Unravellers is how much they love my weekly videos. Because we can’t all be sat together in a classroom the videos help my Unravellers connect with me as their guide — they see my face, they hear my voice and get to see another layer of what I’m teaching. Each week I make a new 10-15 minute video to talk about the week’s assignment and share some personal stories/examples with them. It’s one of my favourite parts of the course too
You also have an ebook coming out soon, called Blogging from the Heart — can you tell us more about it?
Blogging from the Heart will be a guidebook to creative personal blogging. I’ll be sharing everything I know about writing with honesty and heart, how to create images that share your world and inspire, and how to bring it all together on a blog. It’s going to be really practical with lots of tips and advice for bloggers who want to get more personal in their blogging as a way to express who they are and attract a like-minded community to their online home. If the writing gods are on my side, I will be launching the guidebook in September this year.
Susannah Conway is a photographer, writer and the creator of the Unravelling e-courses. A Polaroid addict and very proud aunt, her first book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart (Globe Pequot Press), launches in June 2012. She’s also co-authored another book, Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids (Chronicle Books), coming out in spring 2012. You can read more about her shenanigans on her blog at SusannahConway.com and connect with her on Twitter.