In the third installment of Hustle and Heart, I'm so excited to share my interview with the extremely talented and equally hilarious Susannah B. Lewis. She's a freelance writer, columnist, author, and you may be one of the millions of people who've already seen her viral videos on social media. She's been featured on The Today Show, US Weekly, The Huffington Post, Hahas for Hoohas..and that's just a few! She also just so happens to live in my small town of Medina, TN, and I'm so glad she stopped by White Oak Farms for a visit today.
In as few words as possible describe your 2016?
It was an adjustment. (The first year without my mother.)
In as few words as possible describe how you want your 2017 to be?
Did you always love to write?
I’ve been writing since I was 8. I knew I wanted to be a writer after I read a Scholastic book− It’s Hard to Say Goodbye. The book was about a girl and her dog that dies and leaves her feeling alone. As I was reading it, I began to really cry. And something in that moment struck me− it was the first time a book had actually made me feel something and conjured up so much emotion. I decided that’s what I wanted to do− not write books about dead dogs, per se, but write stories that make people feel something.
Did you always love to make people laugh?
I was labeled the “class clown” at a very early age in school and got in a lot of trouble for it. But I grew up in a very witty (almost sitcom-like) household and heard wisecracks and one-liners daily, so laughing and making people laugh has always been second nature for me.
What is something that would be surprising for people to learn about you?
I’m borderline compulsive about keeping a clean house, and clutter nearly gives me an anxiety attack.
Did anyone give you advice that still sticks with you?
In my first rejection letter, a literary agent told me, “Writing is a very subjective business, but don’t let that deter you from doing it.” That’s kept me going.
Since you have such a huge social media following, how do you handle the good with the bad aka Internet trolls?
In the beginning, I made a point to read every comment left on my social media page. I learned really quickly that there are a lot of malicious people roaming the internet. I just don’t have thick enough skin to tolerate it very well, so I just stopped reading the comments…and I remembered the advice from the literary agent about writing being subjective. Not everyone is going to agree with what I say, and that’s okay. However, it still confuses me why people take the time to comment on something that they don’t like. Why not just move on? That’s why I’ve coined the phrase, “Scroll. Don’t Troll.”
A day without laughter is a day wasted− Charlie Chaplin
You don't have a typical 9-5 job. Can you describe what a "typical" day is like?
Because I stay up so late writing, I have a hard time getting up most mornings. Thankfully, I’m blessed with a husband who takes our children to school so I can sleep in. I finally get going around 9 AM, run errands or do household chores (or sometimes attend speaking engagements) and then pick the kids up from school. Most of our evenings are busy with church, sports or piano lessons, so once we are home, fed and the kids are in bed, I do the majority of my writing. I’ve always done my best writing at night. That’s why I was tardy so much in high school!
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I’d like to work at the Gap. I don’t know why. Maybe for the discount.
Maybe if you work there, you'll get to have this hand-clapping guy as your co-worker! (Side note: My brother who lives in Arizona posted this video to his Facebook wall back in the fall, and I had to tell him you were from Medina!)
What’s your favorite moment since launching Whoa Susannah?
One of my favorite moments was seeing my video shared by Kathie Lee and Hoda. I may have teared up a little over that.
I remember the day that video came out, and people were going crazy over it. When I saw it had made The Today Show, my mind was blown. I remember texting you and our group of girlfriends with the screenshot of Hoda talking about it online. I just looked and that video has over 6.7 Million views! In case you missed it, here's the replay.
What has been your favorite moment as an author? What about as a humorist?
When strangers stop me in Target to talk about the characters in my books, it is so surreal. I think, “Wow! They are talking about the people I invented in my head as if they are REAL PEOPLE!” I also feel very blessed when people say my humor has helped them through hard times or to find joy in tough situations.
As a huge fan of your books, I can totally relate to that feeling of wanting to talk to you about the characters in your book. You write so well--it does feel like they are real people!
I know you have an obsession for the Golden Girls. Tell us more!
I like The Golden Girls so much because they (Dorothy especially) has the quick wit that I adore and admire. She's the most brilliantly sarcastic woman on television. Plus, I have many fond memories of watching it with my mama.
How do you balance being a wife, mom, author, and Whoa Susannah?
Some days I balance things better than others. I stick to a schedule and plan things meticulously! Of course my family is my main priority, so I work around them. This is why I spend the night writing once they are tended to and asleep!
What advice would you have for someone that wants to pursue his/her passions? What’s one thing they absolutely must do?
It sounds cliché, but DON’T GIVE UP! When I was in my mid-twenties, I was very discouraged that I had not yet published a book or made a name for myself in the writing community, but I refused to give up. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter that we’ve each been given a gift. I’ve known for a long time that writing is my gift and that it would one day serve a purpose, so I continued to strive toward my goal of being a “real writer”. In His time, it finally happened. You must cling to your passions, your gifts…and make time to do what you love.
Susannah, thanks for taking time to talk with me today. You truly have followed your passion, and in doing so, you touch millions of people's lives daily with your message!
To learn more about Whoa Susannah:
On Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/whoasusannahblog/
On Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/whoasusannah
WhoaSusannah on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1pMSANmOdwye49C4dQ7Q7g
Also, be sure to check out her latest books. I promise you won't be disappointed. When I bought them, I literally couldn't put them down! Susannah definitely has a gift for creating characters and stories that suck you in, and you don't want to finish reading.
Susannah, thanks so much for sharing your story with us at White Oak Farms.