Hello and welcome to susannakleeman.com. I'm writing this in mid-April 2020, three weeks into the UK's Covid-19 'lockdown'. My kids are out on a cycle with my husband and I'm stealing illicit hours listening to Supertramp and sprucing my site.
I'm a writer but I earn my keep as a web designer, a trade I fell into during the 1990s when I was in my twenties and living the life in New York. I got a job as a proofreader for Riddler, an online games company, a very new sort of thing in those days. And so I learnt about tech. For a while back then I even laboriously coded up a few websites myself, doing all the HTML by hand and feeling pretty damn proud. Not bad for an artsy History graduate with no previous interest in technology. What I did have though were high-level origami skills – origami has been my hobby since I was five and became friends with two Japanese sisters. Origami has been a source of joy and mental and physical training for me ever since, even though I don't do it much these days. And in some way I can't quite explain, origami builds the skills necessary for coding and making websites, and maybe also writing books too. I feel it's something to do with training yourself to follow a long set of instructions methodically, going over your mistakes again and again until you've built something complex out of small simple steps.
Or something like that.
Anyway, I digress.
So, yes, for a while in the early '90s I made websites myself. Then websites got more complicated for someone with little-to-no computing background and knowledge, despite the origami. So I became what in those days was called a 'producer': basically someone who went to meetings and listened to the whims of marketing departments, and then wrote these up into documents to be enacted by real computer programmers. After a while I got older and more 'high level', and what I did came to be called 'strategy'. Or bullshitting. There was plenty of that in what was called 'New Media' back in the day. Either way, I certainly didn't make any of the sites or products or services I was hypothesising. That was done by young intense men (and a few women) in separate departments. And I remember many of those very brilliant young people were kind of resentful of the likes of me: who the heck was this person and what did they bring to the table, a dabbler who could say and not do?
I told my friends that what I brought was the yoking of my immensely privileged classical education and arts background to a smattering of knowledge about technical possibility and what machines could do, and that that was a novel mix of use to my bosses. What I secretly thought was that my crazed large dreams about the future built on hunch, fantasy and chutzpah were way beyond anything those serious young people trapped in their fact-bound group-think could possibly imagine. I'm sure I was quite the pain.
After a while I got pregnant and had two kids in quick succession, which took me out of the heady world of tech for several years. When I tried to reenter I found it hard. Which was just as well – I actually didn't much like tech, especially the tech trade as deployed in large offices full of product managers etc. What I did like and wanted to do instead was to write novels – and I'd written plenty of those over the years. The only problem was that no one wanted to publish them and I couldn't quite face the slog of self-publishing. You can read more about all that here. In lieu of bestsellerdom I had to find some way to earn cash. By then tech was so advanced that platforms like Wix existed, which meant dabblers like me could actually make wholly-professional sites without the need to know complex programming.
Liberated by this innovation, I worked from home teaching myself to make better sites and worked on some pretty great projects. At last I could yoke the strategy with the tech in person and get to keep all the dosh myself. Yes, my early efforts were amateurish but with help from some brilliant designer friends things improved and I enjoyed it. Slowly, very slowly, I created a way of earning money that also gave me time and licence to write my novel TWICE.
Now that my book is done and in the process of getting published, I'm finding my web skills are coming in very handy. I can do my own marketing! I own the means of production and that feels great. In my enthusiasm I may have gone a bit overboard (I've made three sites). So here we are. I hope you enjoy.
And if you want me to make a site for you, please get in touch...