Showing posts from January, 2019


As I mentioned last week , some months are years long, and January has been so for me this year. Mostly in good ways. I've eased back into routines of writing that I'd set aside for a bit, while I worked on life projects. I've been pleased to be able to add writing and still make progress on these other necessary (if dull) bits of life. Which is not to say that January has been "a fabulous writing month" in any way other than the fact that I've been doing it. And maybe that's all that's required. Consider: "[W]riting, like fire, was a gift from the gods. Letters were sacred. Inscribed randomly on a shard of pottery, even without being arranged into a name or a coherent thought, they could be presented as an offering at the temple of Zeus." From "To the Letter," by Mary Norris, in the January 14, 2019 issue of The New Yorker . That's reassuring, isn't it? Incoherence is OK. All you have to do is in


Lately I've been thinking a lot about numbers and meaning. It's January, a traditional time to consider the past and look to the future. Last week, I shared some statistics about Alzheimer Disease  for Alzheimer Awareness Month. The week before, I talked about numbers and (briefly) their limitations . Here are some more thoughts about measurements. * A number: your salary. Not a number: the happiness (a meal at your favourite restaurant, a book of your own, a warm coat for your fourth-grader) that your income makes possible for you. * A number: a grant amount. Not a number: the learning and freedom a grant brings--whether it enables a research trip or lets you rent a studio space with adequate ventilation to protect your respiratory and neurological health (as opposed to, say, painting on a table near a window in a stuffy basement apartment). * A number: subscribers to and purchasers of (and/or eyeballs on) a publication. A different number: readers of your work. Not

More Statistics--Alzheimer Awareness Month

January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. As anyone who's read my work knows, my brilliant, vibrant mother developed dementia. I wrote about its effects on our family, in part because writing is how I make sense of the world but also because, 20 years ago, I couldn't find similar stories elsewhere. I didn't know what to expect--how it felt to see or experience this condition. Fortunately, two decades and a lot of hard work by organizations and individuals have changed that. Now, people with dementia are recognized as the experts in the disease and are encouraged to speak. It's incumbent on all of us to listen. The Alzheimer Society's campaign, "I Live with Dementia. Let Me Help You Understand" features the voices of people whose lives are affected by dementia. Some, like me, don't have the disease but love or care for someone who does. But many have dementia--and their voices are compelling. Read them here:


Last year, I read 61 books. This number does count re-reading titles: sometimes but not always. For example, a few times this year I finished a book and started it again immediately. That counts as one "read." But in at least one instance, I read a book in, say, July, and then read it again in October. That's two "reads." Also, the total doesn't take into account individual articles, journals, or magazines. I subscribe to The New Yorker , thanks to my brother, and although I'm still behind, I've been working my way through my backlog. I also subscribe to a few literary journals, and I try to read those before they get too old. None of that is in this number. So, lots of rules and explanations. Does any of that matter? Not really. Mostly I'm happy that reading has again become a delight. Early in the year, I slogged through books. I sorta kinda enjoyed them, mostly, or at least I was glad to have had the experience of reading them. But p

Shout-Outs (Shouts-Out?)

Happy 2019, everyone! I hope so, at any rate. I'm partly "back to work" today, but I'm partly still on holiday, and it occurs to me that folks other than myself might be struggling to set a direction (or goals, or intentions) for the coming year. As "everyone" who's anyone in the Goal-Setting Guru space says, the first step is to look back. So here's a gigantic THANK YOU to publications, and their teams, who shared my work with the world in 2018. "Hours of Daylight," third place in creative nonfiction,  Prairie Fire  2017 contest,  Prairie Fire 39.2 (Summer 2018) "Entanglement,"  Atticus Review, 21 June 2018. Previously shortlisted for  EVENT 's Non-Fiction Contest, 2017.  "Let  d  Be the Distance Between Us,"  The Grief Diaries, Issue 4 Volume 1, The Anniversary Issue, June, 2018.   "Atomic Tangerine," Honourable Mention in  The New Quarterly 's Edna Staebler Personal Essay award, Summer