Susan Isaacs is a friend of mine. We go to church together, usually a couple of rows apart.
In her book, Angry Conversations With God, Susan persuades God to go with her to couples counseling. It is a book that every spiritual director needs to read.
Susan’s solo show of Angry Conversations opens in Southern California next month.
Susan agreed to answer a few questions about writing and acting:
What is the most challenging thing about writing for you?
The sportswriter Red Smith said it best about writing. “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” It’s hard work. And if you are writing about anything personal and important, it’s all the harder. To the would-be writer who’s been discouraged because it’s hard work: don’t think that the difficulty is proof you can’t do it. It’s hard work for everyone. Here’s another quote, “writers don’t love to write. They love having written.” This is hard stuff. But let me ask you, what is more painful: the pain of writing, or the pain of NOT writing. The latter can be permanently debilitating. Go and write. Yeah it’s hard. It’s harder keeping it inside.
On top of that, the publishing business is in free fall. The system of delivery is changing, profits are plummeting, and as a result publishers don’t pay very well. Or they don’t publish you at all. You can self-publish. That’s personally satisfying, but it’s hard to get the word out.
The market. If you’re young and beautiful you have more opportunities. It’s still difficult. But the problem with acting is, you need a group of people with whom to act, or a project that will hire you. For me, I’ve aged out of the demographic that gets hired the most. There aren’t a lot of roles for me. So that’s difficult.
What is the best thing anyone has ever said to you about something you have written?
After I performed my show, a gay man came up to tell me that he’d long since stopped going to church, but watching my show, he “missed Jesus.” That right there. That’s pretty amazing.
Do you still have angry conversations with God?
Occasionally. I mean, I AM human. But if there’s any anger in the conversation it’s more directed at myself; I’m angry at myself for not getting something done or appropriating some lesson God is teaching me. Or I’m angry at some injustice in the world apart from me, an I’m wondering where God is in the situation.
How is your life different now than it was at the end of your book?
Well I no longer blame God for my situation. I may complain, can you help me out of this? Or can’t this be different? But I don’t blame him anymore. I also take a different view on conflict and difficulty. I try to ask God, ’what are you teaching me about myself in this? How can I learn from this?’ My attention has become focused on my responsibility instead of God’s. This is probably a lesson people learn much earlier if they grew up in functional households. Alas I took years to grow up and get over myself. I don’t value myself so much on my career or relationship statuses (statii?).
I feel more of a kinship and partnership with God, moving through life and dealing with situations and conflicts as they go along. I see it more as an adventure, even if the adventure gets tragic and frustrating at times.
Going to Don Miller’s STORYLINE conference also helped me see life this way.
Thanks for asking me to contribute!
Thank you, Susan.