Art and Fear - Featured Artist: Suzanne Terry

Today I am happy to introduce Suzanne Terry for the Art and Fear Interviews. I met Suzanne through an online writing group. I admire her bravery in writing and her consistency in pursuing what she loves. I also admire her large overflowing bookcases. I will return those two books soon....

What art do you make?

I write. I’ve dabbled in music and dance, and there have been times when one of them would have gotten first mention, but my most consistent art right now is writing. I have three works in progress, although one – a collection of essays on what not to say to your single friends – is on hiatus and will probably stay there until May or June. Of the two I’m currently writing/revising, one is a novel with a main character who is dead, and the other is Feast, an e-course, community, and e-book focused on hospitality and celebration.

What are you working on that you’re most excited about?

Definitely Feast. A lot of that excitement is timing. I plan to launch the beta course in April, and I’m posting an invitation to the community and an opportunity to guest post on my blog in the next couple of weeks. The point at which I get to share it with the world is in sight. The part of the excitement that will sustain the project, though, is that I love food and feeding people and all the joy and weirdness that goes along with it. That joy and weirdness (and champagne cocktails) are the heart of Feast.

How have you been challenged by fear this year, and how have you responded?

A lot of my friends have accomplished impressive artist-y things last year, and some of them were lightning-fast about it. Under my exuberant glee over my friends’ success lies the fear that I’m never going to finish. I am not lightning-fast. I started Fishbowl (the novel with the dead guy) six years ago. No matter how ecstatic I am for my friends and over the fact that there are new books in the world for me to read, the flip side is the fear that finishing is for people who can get it done quickly.

I am intensely logical though, and that’s how I combat fear. I stockpile all sorts of terrible scenarios of the worst that could happen. While this is not a process I would recommend to most people (or would want anyone to walk in on), it works for me. The sooner that my worst scenarios start to sound ridiculous, the sooner I can recognize them as such,  dismiss it, and go on with my life.

Who is currently an influential artist for you?

I’ve noticed that when I’m in editing mode, I go to poetry, where every word is intentional. Clementine von Radics and Gwendolyn Brooks are my favorites this week. I’ve also been basking in Nina Simone. I don’t know how a voice manages to soothe and energize me at the same time, but her voice does.

Do you have any favorite scheduling tips that have worked for you?

I have a full-time desk job and a part-time teaching job, so making writing a priority is something I have to do if I am going to make any progress at all. I set aside a regular, specific time to write. I put it on the calendar. Then I guard that time like it is my job, because ideally some day it will be.

Favorite snack/beverage while creating:

Everyone always expects me to say, “Coffee.” But when I’m writing, I'm usually drinking hot tea or wine. I don’t eat while writing because I need the hunger cues to remind me to take a break. I’ll ignore an alarm; I won’t ignore a growling stomach.

What are you reading?

Between book clubs and research, I can’t just start one book at a time. My bedside table is currently hosting five books: Disunity in Christ (Christena Cleveland), The Artisan Soul (Erwin Raphael McManus), Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis (Lauren Winner), The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (Deb Perelman), and Don Quixote.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?

I would want to be Sloan Sabbith from The Newsroom. She’s the perfect combination of intelligence, wit, and social awkwardness.

Or Catwoman. I could be Catwoman.

Describe your dream vacation:

It would involve a pile of books, a beach, and a cabana boy who keeps the mai tais coming.

What encouragement do you have for other artists?

Your words (your songs, your moves, your pieces) are important, and they are bigger than your fears.

Where can we find your work?

My main blog and my Feast board on Pinterest are where I am talking the most about Feast.  When What Not To Say returns this summer, and it will show up in its own blog. Fishbowl is in its shy stage and stays mostly off the Internet, but occasionally a mention or snippet makes its way onto the blog.

You can also follow what I’m seeing on Instagram, what I’m reading on Goodreads, and what I’m writing on Facebook.