Was there an event or an “aha” moment when you realized that your life needed to change?
I wrote for the first 20 years of my career. I entered the corporate world later than most women, in my late 40’s. Then in 2008 after the economic downturn, corporations starting laying off workers, especially older ones with higher salaries. Ageism as we know is a form of discrimination but it goes on everyday all over the world and sexism continues as well. So I didn’t want to particularly rejoin that culture and decided to return to writing but this time not for hire as I had done in the past.
How much time did you take before making these decisions and what helped you with your thought process?
I also knew from the past that writing can be very solitary and that I would need to do something else that involved working with people. We’re all very aware of the volatile state of the world today. That plus my experiences living in the US and a small village in the south of France, where you can really feel the impact of heavy immigration from northern Africa, helped me decide to create a non-profit, Eurica Media Lab. I serve as its Executive Director and it has a mission of cross cultural education and exchange through the use of film, television, and the internet. And by the way that theme also comes out in my novel as well.
So some days I’ll write; other days I get to work with my Board of Directors or the professional volunteers and the students from Eurica and some days I’ll do both. Now I find myself doing all the things I want to do and not things I have to do. It’s a luxury I think I’ve earned.
So you’ve finished your first novel. Do you have another one in you or is that it?
My first novel, “The Infidel in Plaid,” took a long time. It’s a very different process than from the screenplays I had written in the past but I love it. Now in my second novel I am looking back on the shape of my childhood as one does as you grow older and dealing with some unfinished business. It’s about what’s it like to grow up in the military and to tell mine and my mother’s stories - two very different ones. We know that our military is very stretched today and our soldiers are having lots of trouble when they return to their families. I want to reveal how it shapes the children and it does call upon a lot that I’ve experienced. It’s not a memoir yet it’s something very personal.
What else is different about your second life? Your daily routines, your relationships, your homes, your free or down time?
Well I was used to working at home even when I was in the corporate world so my day doesn’t vary drastically except for not having a salary so I do feel a bit more constrained. I’ve driven the same old Range Rover for the past 12 years and frankly I feel an old clunky car sets you apart. I guess I rely more on frequent flyer programs and monitor how often I go out with friends. But I now have more time to focus on family.
Come back Wednesday to learn more about Susan's expat life in Provence and some more of her thoughts on the pluses of a Second Life.