Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? I was obsessed with words from early days. My mother got in trouble with public school authorities because I had learned to read by osmosis at time that was supposed to be bad if you were not "properly taught" with phonics and all. She insisted it was not her fault, and it wasn't. I still love the flavor and texture and heft of words for their own sakes, as well their power and effectiveness in changing the world. Words have been shaping values and perceptions for thousands of years; conjuring their impact into written form made it possible to spread them way beyond the possible reach of the single bard or storyteller or troubadour. As an attorney and judge, I have considered writing a critical part of my toolkit to achieve clarity and persuasiveness. In today's world, where so many abuse words and try, like the Caterpiller in Alice in Wonderland, to make words mean whatever they want them to mean, the world needs honest, direct, clear and potent writing to rebuild trust and create peace.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? Um, well, time. Pretty much every word, and every revision, have felt like pushing a boulder up an emotional hill. I never found a great trick to circumvent this except a lot of pushing and a lot of sitting on the side of the road recovering energy. The only other source of breakthroughs has been going off on residencies and retreats.
What is your favorite time to write? I am not a morning person so I write in the evenings or late afternoon. Apart from the time of day, the best writing periods I have had were during writers' residencies and retreats, as mentioned. It helped grease the wheels to be away from the distractions of daily life and my day job and immersed in a group of creative and inspiring writers and artists.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? I wrote as a lawyer and judge and had to learn how to write as a human. The best advice I got early on was change my focus from argument to narrative, starting by framing scenes and inhabiting all five senses.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? What excites me most is the ability to reach readers directly bypassing gatekeepers. It is hard to be heard in the cacophony of indie writing but I prefer a wild chorus to a stifled channeling of limited viewpoints.
Leslie A. Sussan's Choosing Life: My Father’s Journey in Film from Hollywood to Hiroshima is out now.