Susanna J. Sturgis    


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To Be Rather Than to Seem

"To be rather than to seem" is an English translation of the Sturgis family motto, Esse quam videri. I've loved it ever since I learned it, which was probably when I was studying Latin in high school. Videri is the passive infinitive of the verb videre, to see, so at first I translated it as "to be seen." "To seem" is the more idiomatic translation. It's not hard to see the relationship between them. I love that too.

The subtitle is "A Writer's Education." To Be Rather Than to Seem: A Writer's Education.

I've lived in interesting times and stumbled into interesting experiences; I haven't exactly set the world on fire, but I've put -- I'm still putting -- all those times and experiences together in interesting ways. I trace the ability to do this back to my childhood. Intellectually I was a feral kid. My mother was an alcoholic with no self-esteem whatsoever; my father had had a regimented upbringing and was determined to raise his children laissez-faire. He couldn't, really; is it even possible? Being bright, observant, and the oldest child / oldest daughter, I understood that something was expected of me; I just didn't know what it was. What I learned, in other words, was not what they thought they were teaching me.

I'm pretty well educated, but from the beginning mine has been a "take what you like and leave the rest" kind of mind. It picks and chooses and doesn't take kindly to doctrines and ideologies. So To Be Rather Than to Seem will be anecdotal in structure, organized around incidents that sparked epiphanies and taught me something important about how the world worked. It's going to be fun, and funny too.

I've been posting pieces of the quilt to the bloggery. How they'll fit together I won't know till I'm close to done, and that won't be for a while. Here's a table of contents, in process:

Baggage Dreams

Bottle Bill


Coffee and High Heels

Comfortable (Washington Area Women's Center I)

Desert Fantasies

Family Food

Finance Committee





Green Thumb

How I Became an Editor


Keep Off the Grass

The Most Important Book I Ever Read

My Middle Name

My Teacher, My Car

My Uncles

No Expectations

November 15, 1969

Out of Control

The Park


Psychic Maps

The Sixties

The Spy I'll Never Be

Staff of Life

Washington Monument

Why I Moved to Martha's Vineyard

Women's Writing Workshop I

Women's Writing Workshop II

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