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Sue Nees

Artist, writer and web editor
Sue's Website

Q. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

A. I don't know if that ever really happened. I have always wanted to have the ability to write, but it took me awhile to feel comfortable using writing as a form of communication. I have much more experience using visual art- - drawings, sculpture, and comics - - to make my ideas understood. For some reason, it took me much longer to feel as though I was qualified to write. When that happened, I began to write.

Q. What are some of the sacrifices that you made to get were you are at?

A.  Giving up a sense of belonging somewhere. For years, I had no real place to live; I just traveled between Japan, Virginia, Maryland and Vermont. My time in Japan was very educational, but it was very hard. I was homesick almost all the time, and the work was very difficult. Overall, I would say I have spent a great deal of energy coming to terms with the fact that there is just a certain level of loneliness and uncertainty that comes with this territory. But, I look at this as an investment, not a sacrifice. And I'm very happy now.

Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to feel more much more relaxed and optimistic in five years. I would like to feel a less urgent need to capture and record my thoughts and impressions in hopes that they will provide some clue that will help make the world a better place. I hope that in five years, I will have completely discarded the notion that time is running out on me, on the world.

Q. Where do you see the future of online publishing?

I look forward to seeing artists and writers take lots of interesting new risks with words as they find innovative ways to deal with the language barrier between humans and search engine robots. I think that this area contains a great deal of potential in terms of introducing poetic and impressionistic forms of language into mainstream communication.

Q. What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Take risks with your work. Dare yourself to do things that scare you. Make your work approachable, but don't avoid controversy. Be okay with the idea of people disagreeing with your opinions. Know that it's not the end of the world when that happens. It's just part of the game. Finish college if at all possible, but if you can't refuse to let yourself be stigmatized by this fact. And be very, very, careful about sharing works in progress with people who are likely to offer useless criticism.

Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes that aspiring writers make?

1. Not writing.

2. Not writing clearly.

3. Being too meek, too strident, too academic, too esoteric, or too self-involved to keep the reader focused.

4. Thinking that you must have some incredibly strong sense of conviction about an issue in order to write about it.

5. Thinking that it is your duty to convince the reader to agree with your opinion.

6. Thinking that it's not okay for your writing to reflect the general confusion and ambivalence that characterize the rest of  life.

Q. Who are some of your role models and why?

I don't really model myself after a specific person. There are several artists and literary works that have strongly influenced my work, though. My favorite books include: Fishboy, by Mark Richard, The Tale of Genji, by Lady Murasaki, and The Story of the Stone, by  Cao Xueqin. I think that music has played a bigger role than visual art or literature in shaping my attitude toward self-expression. I have a great appreciation for musical innovators like Stephen Tunney, Daniel Johnston, and The Residents.

Q. How do you balance your professional and personal life?

The biggest challenge is not having enough time for my work, and not having enough money to realize most of my ideas. It's depressing when an idea has to die just because I don't have time to tend to it. And I'm so busy it's not even funny.

I try to deal with all this by being adaptable and keeping things in perspective. When I start feeling sorry for myself, I try to remember just how lucky I actually am. When I count my blessings, my friends and family are at the top of my list. Living in a free country is pretty high up there, too. Just having very simple things, like a car and  a place to live and three meals a day means that I am more wealthy than ninety percent of the world's population.

Q. What is the most importance thing you hope to gain out of your career?

Understanding my own mind. Making my thoughts more legible to others. Turning my mistakes and my frustrations into knowledge about what works and doesn't work in life.

Q. What inspires you?

The people I love, and the beauty I see in humanity.