Susan Vespoli writes from Phoenix, Arizona. She returned to school in her fifties to earn an MFA from Antioch University L.A. Her work has been published in Rattle, Nailed Magazine, Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, Mom Egg Review, Emrys Journal, and others. When Susan’s not writing essays and poems, she’s leading virtual writing circles on writers.com, playing with her granddaughter, walking her two small rescue dogs, or riding her blue bike.
How did childhood arrive as a theme?
Childhood arrived as a theme because I found myself pretty much alone during the pandemic
except for my 5-year-old granddaughter, which turned out to be a gift! She became a great
reminder to live in the moment and enjoy the simple things. Children are such gurus.
Which communities have you been drawn to, specifically those that you felt helped you write this piece? How has that changed across the pandemic or through the timeline of the piece being written?
The communities I’ve been drawn to and that helped me write this piece include the family of Wild Writers (“Wild Writing” is a practice taught by Laurie Wagner). I was trained by her and use the technique to lead Zoom writing circles on writers.com. This community of writers (Laurie’s groups and my students) helped me produce a ton of true writing and make it through a long period of isolation.
I was also drawn to nature, so the birds became a community.
And my granddaughter, of course, who the piece was about.
I really enjoyed the use of second person, something that you don’t see too often in creative nonfiction. What about this story called for that point of view?
The essay just sort of came out that way. When I write, the content often just emerges on the page, like it has a mind of its own…and this time, it arrived in second person. It was not a conscious choice.
Cooking, Art, Swimming, and Sleeping, the four activities listed, are so simple, yet you, and your granddaughter, derive such meaning for them. How does Writing, either for you or her, compare as an activity?
I think writing is similar to cooking, art, swimming, and sleeping because they are best when connected to the heart. They are life sustaining. They are true and real.