Thanks to Carin Makuz at matildamagtree.wordpress.com for inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Here’s a link to the post itself. It’s been a great opportunity to get better acquainted with other writers, as well as to reflect on how things are going these days.
The week of June 2, the blog tour torch goes to two writers I admire. The first is Ellen S. Jaffe author of — among works in every genre — Skinny Dipping With the Muse from Guernica editions. It’s a powerful collection with great breadth of feeling: poignant, witty, sexy and wise, it strikes so many notes. The other is Julia Zarankin, a writer of hilarious and touching non-fiction and a finalist in Prism‘s non-fiction competition. She’s also a fellow contributor to The M Word. She’s also an ardent and devoted birder.
Okay, here are the four questions I answered for the tour …
What am I working on?
My essay, “Junior,” recently came out in The M Word, so that has led to a number of readings. It’s also – and this is the best part – led to some fascinating conversations about motherhood, both in and out of print. Here‘s a great example. The Draft Reading Series just wrapped up its ninth season, and there’s been some administration to do. I also teach Feldenkrais classes in a couple of Toronto locations.
And … this winter – thanks to the dear Toronto Arts Council – I was blessed with lots of time to work on a non-fiction manuscript, The Last Time We Were All Together, a memoir about the decade-and-a-half that I spent as a care-giver, with a few music-hall songs thrown in to lighten things up.
I am also working on an ambitious series of novels about charismatic spiritual leaders and the groups which cluster around them. Research for The Last Time We Were All Together will also be useful for this series.
How does my work different from others’ in this genre?
My non-fiction manuscript is my own story so I guess that makes it unique, but lately, I feel that there’s too much pressure on writers of non-fiction to dress up or distinguish their experiences in some way. Maybe I’m just at the writing stage where I need to stick my fingers in my ears and hum. Honestly, though, I just want to tell my story well, hoping that others who go through the experience of care-giving at a young age will have a few more points of discussion and options for getting through it with grace.
Why do I write what I do?
I write things that are compelling to me, and stay that way, because these days, projects tend to drag on for a long time. Fiction, I write because I love the process. It is totally pleasurable for me. Non-fiction, I write because it’s meaningful. When I read really good non-fiction, it gives me a way of navigating my own experience. If I can do this for even one person then the work put into it – however painful or tedious — is worthwhile.
How does my writing process work?
I get up, I walk, I write. If I have something unavoidable to do in the morning, I get up very early, I write, I walk. Perspiration over inspiration is my motto.
I really have been fortunate over the last few months in that I’ve actually been able to make writing the main thing in the day. It’s like a dream come true. Of course nothing stays the same and I’ll cope with whatever comes next, but I’m also reaching a point where I don’t mind admitting it’s better this way. I have managed in the past to convince myself that I get more done or get less bent out of shape by rejection when I have a job or some focus other than writing, but I am getting too old for that. The truth: more time is better. Everyone should have more time.