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An interview with suzettenaples - a Hubpages writing challenge

Updated on January 11, 2015

The Challenge

Well, this is a first for me; interviewing myself for a Hubpages challenge from availiavision. I hesitated at first to take on this challenge because I find it difficult to write about myself. I am from that generation that believes you are not supposed to brag about yourself or your accomplishments. The accomplishments are suppose to speak for themselves. I find it easier to write about someone else and/or review someone else's books than to write about me.

But, after reading availiavison's and Tillsontitan's entries in the challenge, they both inspired me to write my own interview.

I found availiavision's questions from the PBS television interview program, "Inside the Actor's Studio," to be so timely and interesting. I have watched this interview show many times when my favorite actors were interviewed. Now, it is time to tell you a bit about myself, and answer the same questions posed to actors, "Inside the Actor's Studio."


A bit about myself

I write here on Hubpages under the name, suzettenaples. I retired from teaching about five years ago and decided in my retirement I would become a full-time writer. I had written a bit in college, but I had never had the confidence to take on writing as a full-time occupation for myself.

I majored in English and Spanish, but my degree is in Secondary Education. So, I taught both subjects for thirty years, although I taught more Spanish classes than English, and my focus was on teaching a second language to my students. My focus also included studying, living, and working overseas and I have lived in Mexico, Spain and Germany during my adult life.

During those thirty years, my inner voice kept nagging at me to write, but I had a difficult time writing anything. Although I had written a bit in college, and my professors said I definitely had writing talent, I basically had writer's block for thirty years. The entire time I taught, I just could not write a thing. I guess I was so focused on teaching and living my life overseas that writing took a back seat for that time in my life.

Finally, when I retired, I became determined to write full time. My first two years in retirement, I spent in Naples, FL, hence the name suzettenaples. Because I was relaxed and living in a beautiful spot of the world, I finally found the inspiration to write.

I decided to begin writing by finding some freelance writing jobs on the internet and in my search I stumbled onto Hubpages. It was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. Here was a community of writers I could come to know, and here I could write content articles, short stories, poetry - really write anything I wanted to. Here I could stretch my imagination and my writing craft. And so, three years ago, I began writing on Hubpages and it has been the best decision I have ever made.

I have enjoyed writing for the different writing challenges over the years. And, this one has caught my interest today. So, here goes!

Jane Fonda today.
Jane Fonda today. | Source
Hanoi Jane on the lecture circuit.
Hanoi Jane on the lecture circuit. | Source

Q: In the film version of your autobiography, who would you like to play yourself?

A: Jane Fonda. I actually met Jane Fonda when I was a sophomore at the University of Akron where I attended to study for my undergraduate degree. She had just returned from N. Vietnam and was on a speaking tour. I know that many people, especially those that fought in that terrible war, do not like or respect Jane Fonda, but after hearing her speak I had to say I admired her. Whether you admire her or not, you have to agree that she did not just accept the canned information that came from our government about N. and S. Vietnam; she went to find out the information for herself. I may not have agreed with all she said that day, but at least she had had the courage to go and find out some answers for herself. After her talk, I went up to introduce myself to her and I spoke with her for a few minutes. She was honest and direct and looked me straight in the eye when answering my questions. I don't remember what questions I asked her that day, but whether I agreed with her or not, she took the time to answer my questions fully and truthfully. She never wavered. I have always admired her for that. Her approach to life was similar to what mine would become. To seek and see the world for myself and draw my own conclusions about that world out there. Hence, I was determined to spend my life learning and living in other cultures to get a new perspective on life. And, that I did.

I have followed Jane Fonda's career throughout her life and watched her grow as a human being and actor through the ups and downs she experienced and I have admired her approach to life. From her marriage to Roger Vadim where she learned not to be just the appendage of a man and his movies, to her marriage to Tom Hayden as they advocated for political causes, to her changing roles in her films, to her aerobic exercise videos that encouraged women to be fit, to finding the novel, On Golden Pond, and bringing it to film so that she and her father could act together in a film, to her work in Georgia helping teenagers cope with their teen pregnancies, Jane Fonda has evolved not just as an actor, but as a humanitarian and advocate for those less fortunate than herself. I have always admired her for that.

I finally got my chance to sing!  That's me in the dark hair and glasses.
I finally got my chance to sing! That's me in the dark hair and glasses. | Source

Q: What quality or talent do you wish you could cultivate?

A: I would have to say singing. Growing up I was told by my elementary and junior high chorus/choir teachers I could not sing, did not have any talent in that area, and I could not carry a tune. So, I watched from the sidelines as my classmates sang in choirs, at Vespers every Christmastime, sang in musical plays put on in high school, and always wishing I could take part. But, I had been told, I had no singing talent, so that was that.

Many years later, I taught at the high school I graduated from and because I had missed out as a participant on all those musical plays, I was determined to at least help direct those musical plays now that I taught there. I worked with the choir director and helped from a directing standpoint, not a musical one. One day the musical director said to me, "Why where you not in the Acapella Choir in high school or any of the musicals we put on?" My answer was," because I was told I could not sing, so I never tried out for Acapella choir." He smiled at me and said, "I am so sorry to hear that, because anyone who tried out for the choir got in. If you had just tried out, you would have been in the choir."

I was stunned and that taught me a great life lesson. Never let anyone tell you you can't do something. Always have the confidence to try out for whatever it is you want to do, because you never know, you just might make it anyway. I realized that by not just singing out I had missed the fun of the Acapella Choir with my classmates and being in the musical plays our high school put on. Never again, would I listen to anyone tell me I couldn't do something.

So, when I spent my time in Naples, FL, I joined the Voices of Naples premiere choir. I tried out for the choir and lo and behold I made it! I learned how to cultivate my voice and sing in tune and sing out I did.

Today, I wish I had taken some voice lessons when I was in high school and even though I might not have been the best singer in the world, I certainly would have had fun singing in our high school musicals.


Q: Who is your favorite fictional character ever?

A: Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I could always identify with the character of Dorothy because I always yearned for what was Over the Rainbow. I loved her gumption of running away to save the life of her dog, Toto, from Miss Gulch. When in the land of Oz, Dorothy sought out the truth of her mission, and always was seeking how to return to her beloved "home." Even though I have lived overseas, I always returned "home." ( Note to Tom Wolff - you can return home!)

Dorothy also helped those around her. She helped the Scarecrow to find his brain; she helped the Tin Man to find his heart; and she helped the Cowardly Lion to find his courage. That is what I hoped to do as a teacher; to help my students find in themselves, their intelligence, their hearts, and their courage.

So Dorothy's courage and the courage of her Oz friends in fighting the Wicked Witch of the West, brought her to the Emerald City. Aren't we all looking for that Emerald City in our lives?

And, the lesson Dorothy learned from her experiences in Oz? She was able to confront the Wicked Witch of the West and defeat her and learned that she always had the ability to return home. That's why I have always loved the character of Dorothy.


Q: If you could have the career of any author, who would it be?

A: J. K. Rowling. I admire Rowling and her Harry Potter series of novels. I especially have always admired those who can capture the imagination of children. And, Rowling did so beyond hers or anyone else's wildest dreams. To write a series of novels as she did and then watch them all turned into films that would charm, engage and delight the children of the world must be the most wonderful accomplishment and experience to have. To bring so much interest and happiness to children is amazing. She literally has encouraged and inspired children to leave their video and computer games behind and pick up a book to read instead. And, that has to be the greatest single accomplishment of her wild ride in writing the Harry Potter books. Should I as a writer be so fortunate to accomplish what she has.

I also admire her for pulling herself up by the bootstraps after her divorce, when she was penniless, but still believed in herself so much, that she picked up a pen and began writing her fantasy series for children. Her rags to riches story (she is today a billionaire) is an inspiration to all me as well as many other writers.


Q: What inspires you?

A: Anything in nature: a beautiful sunny day, a simple leaf, a rose, a rose petal, a ladybug, the ocean/sea, seashells, a walk along the seashore, a walk in the park, a meadow full of wildflowers, a chipmunk gathering nuts, a snowy day in which to ski, the sky at dusk, the sky at dawn. You get the idea.

The great hub writers I have met here on Hubpages have also provided inspiration for me. Just to name a few: Nell Rose, Faith Reaper, Jackie Lynnley, Sunshine 625, Eiddwin, Martie Coester, Maria Jordan, billy buc, mckbirdbks, Will Starr, vocal coach, teaches12345, tobusiness, Daisy Mariposa, DDE, Alastar Packer, Hyphenbird, epigramman, Amy Becherer, Bobbie Purvus, jhamman, jodah etc. Each one of you have added a richness to my life. Thank you for being you!

They and many more here, but too many to list, have all inspired me to become a better writer.

The hub challenges, especially in the last couple of months, have inspired me to write some short stories when I have been through a "dry spell." I feel like I am "back in the saddle again." LOL!

Cuyahoga Falls High School (Ohio) from where I graduated.
Cuyahoga Falls High School (Ohio) from where I graduated. | Source

Q: When did you first realize you were a writer?

A: When I was in the fourth grade, then in high school, and then in college. I wrote my very first short story when I was in the fourth grade. I earned an A on the assignment, and was amazed when my teacher read my story to the class. The feedback from her and my classmates was so positive that I thought this was something I might be good at. I continued to excel in writing assignments during my school days.

In high school I sat through Expository Writing class, Intermediate Composition class, and then Advanced Composition class. It was during my Advanced Composition class that I had my favorite writing teacher. She really taught me the fine points of expository writing, persuasive writing and creative writing. It was during the creative writing phase of the class that again my short story writing rose to the top. We had to write a mystery story so that we would learn to lay out a case and make sure that all the ends were tied up in the end.

Again, I earned an A on that mystery story and my teacher read only my story to the class telling eveyone mine had risen to the top and was the best one she received. She was amazed that my mystery story was so well thought out, presented, and so humorous - she was cracking up as she read it to the class. Again, I thought, I might have some talent in writing in the area of short story writing.

It was in college, though, during my creative writing class, that my professor helped me hone my short story skills. She told me I was definitely a talented writer, but my sights were set on teaching at that point.

I also thought these were just professors at the University of Akron telling me I could write. It wasn't like I was attending a great university or an ivy league school, so I tended not to believe I could be a serious writer or do it as a living. Wrong, again. And, I have learned life lessons from that kind of thinking also.

While I do not regret my teaching career at all because it has been so full filling to teach others, I often wonder what 'could have been' had I been brave enough to start a writing career while in college.

Fast forward to retirement, and this time there is no 'could have been.'


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