December 16, 2005
When Susan Donaldson moved to Blue River from New Jersey in 1989, she figured her writing days were, for the most part, over. “Realist that I am, I hadn’t ruled out writing newsletters, organization minutes or publicity articles, but I didn’t imagine all-consuming, disciplined, rigidly scheduled writing to be in my future,” she said. Before she and her husband settled in Summit, she owned and edited a four-town editorial weekly newspaper. She edited all copy and ads, covered several beats, wrote a monthly column called “Window on My World” and had her share of lucky breaks: an expected routine police briefing evolved into several articles on the area’s only double murder; a couple of follow-up phone calls pitting a board of education president against a school district superintendent resulted in an expose and eventual firing of the administrator. “Some very heady stuff generously peppered with lots of mundane stuff,” she said.When she stopped reporting, she still longed to inform people. So when the opportunity arose to become an educator again by writing a book about the Summit County Courthouse, she jumped at the chance. The result was “Summit’s Courthouse: Its Past, Pictures and People.”After the book’s publication, her writing ebbed for a while. But now she’s putting the final touches on an article that she plans to submit to Colorado Heritage, the Colorado Historical Society’s quarterly magazine. Dreams:My dream is to write a novel. At the newspaper, I found my hardest assignment to be my monthly creative column. Reporting facts is easy; inventing and then fleshing out material is not. I think novel writing will challenge me greatly.
Why write:I write to educate. If, in the course of reading my work, someone enjoys a good laugh or likes the wording of a particular sentence, I’m doubly pleased. What do you convey through writing?I try to convey truth, fact and accuracy through my writing. I’m equally concerned about the workings of my trade: proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. Challenge:Thus far my biggest challenge was one I shared with the newspaper’s two other owners – getting out an informative, accurate newspaper every week for 12 years. We were able to do it because we had an excellent, loyal and patient staff.
Accomplishment:I’m most proud of my book, which took me 14 months to complete. Staying fresh:I wish I could say that I stay fresh and motivated, but I can’t. Plenty of distractions steal my attention. Also, I don’t need to publish to make a living. In an effort to get motivated, I took a course at Colorado Mountain College last summer called “Coaching the Artist Within.” It helped, but distractions still occupy a big part of my time. When you’re not writing?When I’m not writing, I hike, downhill ski, snowshoe, walk my dog, read and volunteer for various organizations.
Name: Susan DonaldsonType of art: Writing At-a-Glance BoxPersonality: ExtrovertHours per week dedicated to writing: 15-20, if working on a projectFavorite artist/mentor: Jon KrakauerSensitivity: 7