Saturday morning keynote: Susin Nielsen


YA novelist and Governor General’s Award-winning writer Susin Nielsen shared her journey to authorhood.

It’s an equation: 1/3 talent, 1/3 hard work, and 1/3 luck.

She showed use her first diary, and even read to us some of her early entries: “If I become famous, I may want to keep a diary.”

She aspired to be Harriet the Spy and her first diary lasted for all of 8 days.  Susin was in 7th drade.

There were always books in the house.  She was an off-beat kid.  It was a while before she realized that elaborate imaginary games were not where her classmates were at.

She didn’t have a lot of friends.

Her first book was The Smallest Snippet in Snippeton.  She showed it to us 🙂

She submitted poems to Seventeen magazine and received the response: “Nicely written, but much too depressing for us.”  Susin read us one of the poems: “Suicide.”  It was a little maudlin.

Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hour rule.  About that time, she was about the 200 hour range.

She went to Ryerson, got a job in food services for Degrassi, wrote a spec script, which eventually became 16 episodes of the long-running Canadian series.

When Word Nerd was published in 2006, her agent was incredibly helpful.

Susin Nielsen in Lorette, Manitoba

Susin Nielsen in Lorette, Manitoba (Photo credit: Tundra Books)

The bottom line: if you’re a writer, write.  Hone your craft.

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