Friday, June 7, 2019

Interview with writer Susan Rudnick

Writer Susan Rudnick joins me today to chat about her memoir, Edna’s Gift: How My Broken Sister Taught Me To Be Whole.

For over forty years, Susan Rudnick, LCSW, has been listening to people tell their stories in her Manhattan practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. In Edna’s Gift she tells hers. The seed for her memoir was “Coming Home to Wholeness,” a chapter she contributed to Into the Mountain Stream, a book of personal reflections on psychotherapy and Buddhist Experience. Susan, a Zen practitioner, has published haikus as well as articles about psychotherapy in professional journals. Culled from thousands of submissions, one of her haikus appears in New York City Haiku: From the Readers of The New York Times. Susan, a licensed clinical social worker, has been a practicing psychotherapist in NYC for over 40 years. She and her husband live in Westchester NY, but often love to spend time at their cabin in the Catskills. Being a parent is her greatest joy.

Welcome, Susan. Please tell us about your current release.
This is a memoir about how my mentally challenged sister was my life’s greatest teacher, especially when I discovered my own, more hidden disability. We are all both broken and whole. Meaning can be made of the chaos of trauma, and healing happens when we open to the whole of it.

What inspired you to write this book?
After my sister Edna died, I realized that the impact of her life on me, needed to be articulated and shared. People who are labeled as handicapped often live invisible lives. This book is my way of making Edna visible.

Excerpt from Edna’s Gift (near the beginning of the book):
 “Edna never thought of herself as having something wrong with her. She referred to herself as handicapped, but that was a fact, not a judgment. Oh, she knew there were things she couldn't do. She understood she was “differently abled” about sixty years before the term was invented. Still, my eight year old self couldn't possibly know that Edna’s way of being just who she was, without judging herself, would become a model for me as I grew up and struggled to find my own sense of self-acceptance.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Short creative nonfiction that spins out from my book.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It is only after I finished my book that I have begun considering myself a writer. In truth I see myself more as a psychotherapist who writes. And that feels like a very full identity.

photo credit: Chris Loomis
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Although in my mid-seventies I still have a private practice of psychotherapy.
I write in between: on the commuter train, on weekends and late night spurts, here and there.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
To get this book out, I frequently invoked the ten minute rule: YOU JUST HAVE TO WRITE FOR TEN MINUTES! If you do more it’s gravy. And usually I do last longer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A ballet dancer, drum majorette, and therapist. The third is what I became.!!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have a forthcoming piece coming out in the NY Times, with the working title: “The Power of a Name: My Secret Life With MRKH.” You can read more about this syndrome in the book!!


Thanks for being here today!


Susan Rudnick said...

Hi, I'm Susan Rudnick and here's the link to my NYtimes essay:

Mary robinson said...

It's a true heart warming book that made me realize how much we take for granted. I Thank you Susan for sharing your story with us all!!Regards: Custom thesis writing service

Susan Rudnick said...

Thanks so much Mary!! Glad you liked it!!!