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in praise of vintage books

I finished this book on the way back from Montreal. It was the first time I’d ever read it (I know, I know). It was found in a laundromat by a family friend and given to my mother. Look at the gorgeous cover! Old book design is unmatched, in my opinion. Old books are great, especially when they’ve been used by a student in a mixture of relevant class notes and future invention ideas. I almost didn’t want to give this back to my mother… (READ MORE)

blustery beach(es)

My parents used to live near the beach, when there was a racetrack across the street. Now, houses are there, painted in too many colours. We walk slowly down the boardwalk and my mother points out trees to my father – “This one is so big now!” She tells me that when she was my age, when everything was new, she dreamed of living in the little building in the last photo, just her and her dog and the beach and the lake. When I… (READ MORE)

retreat

retreat

Visiting my parents is often so much like a ready-made writing retreat. The house is quiet, softly lit, often sleepy. The TV returns seven channels and there is not much in the way of distraction. I sit straight up, I do crosswords from the paper, I write hundreds of words at the kitchen table I carved my name into at age eight. — Lindsey has an amazingly good story in the new issue of Storychord, and check out this great blog post I randomly found:… (READ MORE)

where i write

where i write

An oil lamp from Istanbul, a present from my brother. In the background are buttons with the Berlin “walk/don’t walk” symbols. My old Goose on a Moose print and various old photos of my mother and Finland. I’m not really a fan of Doris Lessing’s fiction, but I love her as a writer. If she catches me not writing, she shakes her finger at me and tells me to get moving. A dusty plant given to us by friends, and an old monster made by… (READ MORE)

today was a productive writing day

today was a productive writing day

There is no greater excitement than starting a story. Finishing a story is satisfying, but in a different way – it’s a worn-out, bleary-eyed kind of happiness. You almost don’t even care. You don’t really remember the thrilling beginning, the new idea becoming a narrative with real, live characters. Today I took myself and my laptop to a coffeeshop. I opened my Word doc called “Ideas and Beginnings” and picked something at random. I copied and pasted it into a blank document. And suddenly I… (READ MORE)

yesterday was a frustrating writing day

yesterday was a frustrating writing day

My husband J and I were sitting on our bed in the dark, our dog snoring on her own little bed a few feet away. I was sitting with my chin on my drawn-up knees and trying to put into words why I’d had such a frustrating day. It was hard, partly because you can’t actually speak too well with your chin on your knees, but also because it’s so difficult to talk about writing, about that vague internal process Doris Lessing always referred to… (READ MORE)

morning in your childhood home

There are certain sounds that will be comforting forever: slippered feet on that creaky floor, early morning radio debates, water being poured into a kettle, screen doors sliding open. I stretch and kick the metal footboard as I had done every morning, and before I am fully myself I forget the last nine years have ever happened.