Interview with Susan Enzer: Q2 2024 Creative Nonfiction Contest Third Place Winner

Sunday, May 12, 2024
Susan’s Bio:
Susan Enzer is a writer of vignettes and creative nonfiction stories. Named a Top Writer of 2023 by Papers Publishing, her work also appears in Passengers Journal where it was featured in their inaugural Podcast. She studies at The Writers Studio and attends workshops at Westport Writers. Susan is currently working on a memoir. She lives in New York City and can be reached at or on Instagram @susan.enzer1.

If you haven't done so already, check out Susan's award-winning essay "Scents of a Life" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Q2 2024 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Susan: It started with a prompt on the senses. The sense of smell is evocative, a trigger for memories. I began with the memories of the difference in the scents of each of my two newborn sons. The more I wrote about Joshua, the more his story unfolded through aromas and scents. And the more the details emerged – the insulins, the bitterness of its taste and the condition always there. Above all he was a boy, a teenager, a young man. So, I wanted to document that journey. Again, it was the scents that revealed the memories of who he was. 

WOW: Yes, scents can be such a powerful memory trigger, and you used this so well in your story. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Susan: I am resilient, persistent, and patient. I wrote, revised, distanced myself from the piece, changed the title at least five times and finally "set it free" after three years. 

WOW: I love this because it shows that writing and publication are not straightforward or linear processes. And, speaking of writing processes, please tell us more about your memoir-in-progress. 

Susan: It is a story of stories and vignettes threaded through the resilience of a mother and son who are “married” by his chronic illness. She yearns to make him whole. She is determined to pass each test of endurance, step into and through each crisis. Her belief (magical) that this will bring them closer to having lives of their own. Over time, her growing awareness that his magical belief is that he can ignore his chronic illness. That he is not ill. That he is free from consequences. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing that glimpse into your story, which sounds like it has layers of depth. Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Susan: Nick Flynn who gets himself on the page as well as creating the memoir his father could not write for himself. Lucia Berlin, chatty, meandering and profound. I am not a meanderer so Berlin reminds me I can allow my inner thoughts, even my humor show up. Kate Walbert for her capacity to show the PN on the page through a composite of others. For me that is the shared experience of others with a child, a husband living with chronic illness, renal failure – crises and unwelcome surprises. 

WOW: If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be? 

Susan: It's not my job to criticize what shows up on the page. It's okay to write those words on the page and read them out loud, to hear them. AND it's okay for me to appear on the page and in the story. I carry memories and details, stories and losses. I need to share them and set them free. 

WOW: Wonderful advice! I like the image of letting your stories free. There’s something very inspiring in that. Thank you for sharing your writing with us and for your thoughtful responses. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes. Engage on Twitter or Instagram @GreenMachine459.


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