QCC Book Club Presents: Q&A with Author Susan Ksiezopolski
When/Why did you decide you wanted to publish your poetry?
I have always been a writer. One of my favourite photos is that of me at 8 years old sitting at my dad’s typewriter. Throughout my school life and my working life, I have always made time for creative writing. Besides writing, my other passion is to volunteer and give back. I was volunteering with the United Way Halton Hills and the idea came to publish my poetry and to donate the proceeds. This allowed me to combine two things I loved! My first book, My Words , was published in 2012. This book captured 40 years of my writing work. Two years later Writing For Change was published, representing the body of work reflective of a large personal change I was undergoing. The proceeds from both these poetry books have been donated to the United Way Halton Hills, and to date close to $9,000 has been raised.
Poetry is a personal piece of expression and initially it was difficult to make the leap to publish my work and have it out there exposed. However, that apprehension passed once my first book was published, and I heard stories from my readers about how they related to range of experiences reflected in my poetry. Here is a poem I wrote the night before “My Words” book launch, illustrating the apprehension of “launching” my poetry.
Letting My Words Out
Where will they go
When they leave me
Will they be understood
Will they be misread
Will they be misinterpreted
Like a feather
They will float
Away up from the paper
Into someone else’s
Into someone else’s
Will they disappoint
Will they inspire
Like a rain drop
Joined with other
Will they be heard
Will they be felt
Where will they go
When they leave me
Susan Ksiezopolski, My Words, 2012
Do you have any tips or ideas for other writers who may want to publish their works but don’t know where to start? Or for those who want to take up writing as a hobby?
Publishing can be a long complicated process. There are many options available which is great, but this also creates more confusion about which way is the right approach. Over the past few years there has been an emergence of many self-publishing options, and an uprising of small independent publishers. The traditional method is to send out query letters to the major publishing companies and solicit their interest in publishing your book.
Some writers I know – like to have the publishing piece all sorted out BEFORE they invest time and effort into writing their stories, work. Others get into the creative process, do all the writing and then focus on the publishing process. It is really about preference. It depends on your objective in getting your work out there and understanding why you write and who you are writing for (who your audience is).
I found it best to focus on my creative process first and to have a good solid first draft completed before I started down the publishing path. Nothing kills productivity like the stress of publishing and printing related deadlines. As I wanted to maximize the proceeds of the sale of my books for the United Way, I choose to self-publish. This involved finding a designer to help me with the layout and format and to design my front and back covers. I also needed an editor to comb through the content and check for errors and recommend helping improve my work. Finally, I needed to source a printer and decide about the paper and cover type. I did this by reaching out to other authors. I joined writing groups. I am part of the Mississauga Writer’s Group, the Random Acts of Poetry, and Canadian Authors Association.
For those that are interested in taking up writing as a hobby, I have similar advice – meet up with other writers. Join a writing group, attend writing conferences, or workshops. I have developed The Writer’s Workshop Series and have been offering them across the GTA over the past 3 years. Check out my website: www.mywordsnow.com for a list of my upcoming workshops.
What have you found are the benefits of having a side-project or hobby while working?
Having side-projects or hobbies while working provides an outlet and help with work-life balance. Being involved in volunteering throughout my career helped me to develop new skills, expand my awareness and helped to keep me connected to my community.
Making time to learn something new, or doing something you love helps to offset the work related stress and gives you something to look forward to spending more time doing once you are retired. The added benefit for me was that through my volunteer activities I could stay connected and have a sense of community. This was important because once you stop working, it is easy to feel isolated and miss the social aspects associated with work. The added benefit of being lost and absorbed in a hobby you love is that it has the magical ability to make time stand still – and we all need more of that.
What other ways have you kept busy during retirement?
I have always enjoyed being involved in a variety of activities. Aside from spending more time with my family since my retirement, I have increased the time I spend volunteering and learning. It’s not about keeping busy but more about having the time to devote to the things I am passionate about. I have volunteered with a variety of different organizations related to my interests of community development (e.g. United Way); personal development (e.g. Mississauga Writer’s Group) and professional development in my field of expertise (e.g. Southern Ontario Chapter of the Project Management Institute). I also make sure I spend time daily to read and write. I always have several writing projects on the go. Besides having publishing “My Words” and “Writing For Change” since my retirement, I have launched a website and maintain a regular blog post. My third book “The Writer’s Workbook: Free The Writer Within – Tap into the power of creativity” is with my book designer; scheduled for printing and release this October. I also developed and have been delivering creative writing workshops to share what I know with others; empowering them to find their voice and unleash their own creativity. During my career I enjoyed learning and development, and have included and pursued several formal education courses in my retirement. I am planning to go back to school next year and hope to pursue a Masters in Fine Arts program. It’s important to continue to grow and to have something to look forward to. It’s about continuing to set goals to work towards, with the focus of those goals taking on a more personal focus rather than a professional one.