Jane Eaton Hamilton

“They’re quite lovely, most batterers. Lovely at home, too. Until they’re not.” Jane Eaton Hamilton

Can You Do It, Make a Living From Art? Probably Not.

LARB always has great essays about this biz of ours. Alexis Clements writes What Are the Chances? Success in the Arts in the 21st Century and concludes that money is a bit of a dirty secret in the arts. Most artists working at art or writing full time have ancillary income–help from a spouse, inheritance, real estate success.

“The chances of your book becoming a New York Times best seller in 2012: 0.002 percent [1]” -Alexis Clements

What Are the Chances? Success in the Arts in the 21st Century

The Surrey International Writer’s Festival

After appearing at the Whistler Writer’s Festival on Oct 14, I’ll be at the Surrey Festival from Thursday Oct 19 through Sunday Oct 22 presenting at the Surrey International Writer’s Festival. Join writers Dong Won Song, Juliane Okot BitekSean Cranberry, Zsuzsi Gartner, Meg Tilly, Jack Whyte and many more for a weekend of skill-honing and fun. #siwf17

Social Justice Writing

Jane Eaton Hamilton

Friday, October 20, 2017

10-11:15 am

Writing about activism is writing that promulgates a progressive view of our world and motors towards change. Is it possible to write social justice poetry or fiction, along with the more usual non-fiction and memoir? Is writing about social justice risky? What will happen to a writer’s career if they become associated with a cause or causes? What about lawsuits and trolls? We’ll spend the workshop engaged in a lively exploration, using social justice writing prompts, learning how to be an effective activist in Canlit. Bring your questions!

 

Cross-Genre Writing

Jane Eaton Hamilton

Saturday, October 21, 2017

3:45 – 5:00 pm

Writing across genres means writing in more than one arena—poetry, short fiction, memoir, essay, non-fiction or cross-genre within a piece. What makes a piece one genre or the other? Are there conventions that can be carried from one genre to the others to create new cross-genre pieces? What are the implications to your Canlit career of crossing genres? Using a single writing prompt, we’ll explore how to cross genres. Bring your questions!

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) BELIEVE THE VICTIM

This is a literary blog and exactly the place literary essays about domestic violence belong.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month in the US. November is Domestic Violence Awareness month in Canada.

S/he/they don’t have to be hitting you for you to be a victim; abuse happens with gaslighting, lying, cheating, yelling, sexual abuse, dehumanizing you, demeaning you, threatening you, throwing things, frightening you/the children. This month and next, I ask everyone to remember that this is not just a heterosexual, able-bodied crime. The disabled are victims of violence at home at a much higher rate than are the able-bodied. Queers and trans people are frequent victims of violence both outside the household perpetrated by strangers, and inside it perpetrated by their intimate partners. If you want to read more about queer violence, I started a website to collect the pieces I could find about it at www.queerviolence.com.

Thank you, readers, for having the interests of victims at heart this month and next. It is your understanding that will make a difference. Thank you for educating yourselves.

All a household needs for domestic violence to occur is one partner who feels entitled and willing to batter. It’s not about the victim. It’s entirely caused by, about and the fault of the offender.

Why doesn’t she leave? S/he/they have told her that she’s crazy, she’s imagining things, it’s not that bad, s/he/they love her. Periodically, the violence ends and the loving relationship begins anew, refreshed and revitalized This pattern of violence broken by love broken by violence broken by love eventually twists a victim’s mind. She believes in the love. She hungers for it. She needs it. It’s the “real” relationship, after that. The violence is just something to be borne. This creates a psychological condition called trauma bonding. (In a hostage situation the same dynamic would be called Stockholm Syndrome.) When there’s violence, she would give anything, do anything, be anybody just to have the pendulum swing back to where her partner loves and approves of her again.

Kids are often caught in the crossfire and this is particularly grievous because they are observing behaviour that will make them feel “at home” as adults. They won’t know how to form healthy relationships with healthy people. If you can’t make yourself leave for yourself, make yourself leave on behalf of your children.

Call your local transition house because, there, you will have breathing room to think through your circumstances and to begin the process of healing and figuring out the next steps to your free future.

What can you do? Support resources helping battered women. Educate yourself on feminism and why it’s critical to everyone’s future. BELIEVE THE VICTIMS. If you like the offender, and you don’t like the victim, nevertheless, BELIEVE THE VICTIM.

Read Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.

Below, I’ll link to literary essays on abuse. Please feel free to add the ones that have been important to you in the comments.

It Will Look Like a Sunset by Kelly Sundberg, Guernica, Best American Essays

Apology Not Accepted, a blog by Kelly Sundberg with guest essayists on the topic of IPV

(Stay tuned for a book on the topic by Kelly Sundberg in 2018.)

Using CNF to Teach the Realities of Intimate Partner Violence to First Responders: An Annotated Bibliography, by Christian Exoo, Assay Journal

The Story of My Fear Over Time, by Kelly Thompson, The Rumpus

Underwater, by Kelly Thompson, Manifest Station

I Understand Why Some Women Stay, by Virginia Mátir, xojane

The Mule Deer, by Debbie Weingarten, Vela

On Car Accidents and Second Wives, by Mandy Rose, Apology Not Accepted

Never Say I Didn’t Bring You Flowers, by Jane Eaton Hamilton, Apology Not Accepted, Full Grown People, notable in Best American Essays

 

 

Sharon Olds: Can She Write, or Is She Just a Woman?

Over at Read It Forward, Jonathan Russell Clark talks about the phenomenon that is Sharon Olds in The Poetic Persistence of Sharon Olds: Why critics can’t handle the poet’s honest depictions of life, death, and women. The critical response to her work has leaked its hatred of women–of their embodiment, of their insistence for indulging this,for demanding a place at the table of letters. But literature snubs its nose back at them. Sharon Olds has been persistently successful as an American poet, in 2013 winning the Pulitzer for Stag’s Leap and this year winning the Wallace Stevens Award carrying a purse of $100,000. And she will be forever revered for teaching many of us how to think about intimacy and the domestic, how to approach it honestly, with our pens drawn, with an analysis of rounded character, with our politics in our pulsing blood, in words.

The Cocktail Party

 

An ER physician said to me, “What do you do?”

“I’m an author.”

He turned white as a blanched almond. “Did you just say you’re a nothing?”

I hooted. “I guess I might as well have.”

#whydowedothis

At the Whistler Writer’s Fest…

I’m delighted to be reading with Lenore, Jim and Joan at the Whistler Writer’s Fest! I wrote about the risk in writing my novel ‘Weekend’ for the festival, here.

Writers of Fiction

October 14, 2017 | 10 – 11:30 a.m.| Fairmont Chateau Whistler | $15

Lenore Rowntree, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Jim Nason, Joan B. Flood and the fiction winner of the Whistler Independent Book Prize. Author Claudia Casper explores the essential elements of fiction through our guest authors’ stories. They involve an only child struggling to emerge from his mother’s bipolar disorder; the complexities of contemporary queer love; how a veterinarian’s life choices, at times, contradict her alleged love of children and animals; and a family drama set in Ireland in which decisions and mistakes echo through generations.

 Moderator: Claudia Casper

Finish your goddamned book

Yonder at Terrible Minds, here’s the not-so-terrible truth about finishing your novel, by Chuck Wendig.

Here’s How To Finish That Fucking Book, You Monster

What we owe you, and what we don’t…

For every aspiring writer to consider, from 2009, in the Village Voice…

I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script

Samantha Dunn, folks

Samantha Dunn Rotating Header Image

Samantha Dunn is the author of Failing Paris, a finalist for the PEN West Fiction Award in 2000, and the memoirs Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life (Henry Holt & Co.), a BookSense 76 pick, and Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex and Salvation.

But right now she is also the author of this wise FB post, which I want to share with you:

“So a certain woman just published a memoir, have you heard? Some woman who ran for president?

Anyway. The news about it made me remember a time, recently, when a guy came up to me and was like,

“So it’s mostly women in your classes, right? Don’t they all want to write memoir?”

Evidently he was trying to make small talk. We were at the closing reception of The Writers’ Studio, an intensive four-day program through the UCLA Writers Program where I’ve taught memoir and personal essay since before there were smart phones.

It was, I believe, precisely the 400 bazillionth time anyone—man, woman, writer, non writer–had ever asked me that question, or some version of that question. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, underneath this query lies a nest of dismissive, condescending, sometimes overtly contemptuous, assumptions: Memoir classes are just a bunch of hens writing about their “feelings” and what happened to them. Oh, isn’t that sweet. I’m sure it’s all very therapeutic. [Snicker, snicker] But really, how *literary* can that be? How elevated an artistic endeavor can that be?

That question had pissed me off for years. Years. I’d find myself getting defensive, saying, “No, not only women, a lot of men too.” And then I’d instantly feel shameful about the wrongness of that reply, on so many levels–as if by holding up the fact that men also take my courses I validated the courses’ gravitas and rigor. My defensiveness itself has been a symptom that somewhere deep down, even I too doubted that a genre where the majority of practitioners—which is not to say that the majority of those publishing—are women could matter as much as other forms. Even I, me, moi, author of two memoirs and one highly autobiographical novel, battled an inferiority complex.

But earlier during that UCLA four-day intensive, a profound shift had happened for me while I was going through a lecture I have given many times, about the history of memoir as a literary form.

As I was talking about how St. Augustine’s Confessions, written around 400 A.D., are thought to be the root of modern memoir, establishing an inherently redemptive arc through the telling of personal experience, I was looking into the face of 20 women. White and black, some great grandmothers, some young women just out of grad school. One had never held a job outside the home. One had been the first female prison guard at San Quentin. One had been molested by a father. One was grieving the death of her mother. One had gotten lost in South America 20 years earlier and was still trying to understand the ripples that experience had sent out over her life. One had been on a plane hijacked by terrorists and had tried to keep it a secret because she didn’t want to revisit the trauma. All of them were complicated, soulful beings whose lives were unique expressions, singular combinations of personality and history and class and politics and race and art and whatever else forms us as humans.

All at once I had that bolt-of-lightening feeling as I spoke to them, realizing that no woman could ever have written what St. Augustine had. Even if a woman had been educated enough to write at that point in history (which was rare enough for men, even more so for women), she would have been burned alive for admitting to the transgressions St. Augustine details.

And as strange as it sounds, I had this, I don’t know what—this hallucination, this psychedelic moment, where it was as if the lost histories of millions of women through the ages, all the lives lived silently, all the agonies and the hopes and the dreams dared, were now shining through the faces of those 20 women in my class.

Acid flashback? Possible. Moment of satori talked about in Zen, instant of enlightenment? I dunno. But suddenly I knew, I felt, how incredibly subversive, how riotous, it is to be at a point in history where women are publishing the stories of their lives in significant numbers, the likes of which has never been seen in the record of human achievement.

By committing their experience to our collective literature they are changing not only their world but yours, ours. All these voices add up to an uncharted narrative about what it means to be human. Only the most radical of all potential endeavors: They are witnessing their story and we human things are therefore understanding more of THE story, and in that understanding we are thereby changing THE story for all of us.

This is the way the world gets reborn: One story at a time.

So I told random dude-at-writerly-reception-thingy-making–lame-small-talk,no, it is not “mostly women” who are writing memoir. It’s mostly A BUNCH OF FUCKING RADICALS WHO ARE ACTIVELY CHANGING THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY.

Any questions?”

The Female Hat-Wearing Dog

Oh yeah. Raquel D’Apice over at the Ugly Volvo.

The Female Hat-Wearing Dog

 

Maggie May Ethridge: Atmospheric Disturbances

 

The atmospheric disturbances that are part of a coupled union … most of us know them.  In Atmospheric Disturbances, Maggie May Ethridge, a talented US essayist and memoirist, takes our hand and walks us into the abyss of her long, abiding relationship to a man with bipolar illness. Because of Ethridge’s soaring talent, this portrait of a disorder becomes a searing, raw chronicle at the closing shutters of marriage, and their re-opening and re-opening and re-opening.

 

Dionne Brand: Writing Against Tyranny and Toward Liberation

Dionne Brand

In this talk and reading at Barnard College, the Canadian poet, speaks to our questing, wanting hearts.

“I don’t believe in the notion of justice, since it presumes a state of affairs that is somehow formerly good but for certain anomalies is legitimate. In our case, I think that we live in a state of tyranny and to ask a tyranny to dismantle itself, to claim, to ask for, to invoke justice is to present our bodies, already consigned in that tyranny to the status of non-being, to ask that tyranny to bring us into being and that is impossible and it won’t.” -Dionne Brand

This talk is an excerpt from “Poetics of Justice: A Conversation Between Claudia Rankine and Dionne Brand,” part of the series Caribbean Feminisms.

Dionne Brand: Writing Against Tyranny and Toward Liberation

 

Two Men and a Library

 

Natasha Frost tells us the bizarre (and entertaining) story of playwright Joe Orton, and his partner, Kenneth Halliwell, during the time in the 1960s when they stole, altered and returned books to a London library. The story did not end well, but rather with heartbreak and murder.

The Strange, Sad Story of Joe Orton, His Lover, and 72 Stolen Library Books

Skinning the Rabbit: the essay at The Sun

My second piece (after a piece of fiction called “Hearts”) with The Sun appeared in July, but there was only a preview online. Now they’ve put the entire essay up, but the best news, the absolutely best news, is that they’ve opened their archives. How wonderful for all of us. I can see what we’ll be reading for the unforeseeable future. If you are a subscriber, you can see it all; if you’re not, you can read two pieces a month. Huzzah!

Skinning the Rabbit

The Blodwyn Prize

I didn’t win this new prize for emerging writers–I am far from an emerging writer–but I am glad thinking so caused someone to read and enjoy my latest poetry book Love Will Burst Into a Thousand Shapes and All Lit Up to report on it.

Must-Follow-Canadian-Book-Instagrams-for-World-Photo-Day

Love Letters–of a sort

Will You Ossuary Me?

 Jane Eaton Hamilton

She wanted to kiss me in bones. Death, much? Spiraling down 19 meters. She pulled the ends of my scarf and I moved closer because hers were Parisian lips, the top lip thin, the bottom lip full, and I felt her deeply inside where my nerves snapped and I was decomposible. There were tibias all around us in the damp light, and scapulas from the plague, phalanges and fibulas and metatarsals. Infant bones. People dead of polio. People collapsed of childbirth and famine. Of war. Cries and tears and screams. The bones of six million Parisians dug up from cemeteries to make room, shovels of bones, wagon-loads of bones pulled by sway-backed nags for a full two years—carted down into these old mine tunnels, then arranged. We stood in puddles. The air was heavy with the motes of people’s lives—more broken dreams, I guessed, than dreams come true. It was quiet, but the past echoed. Ghost-din. Someone had written, Pour moi, mort est un gain. Pour moi, pour moi, pour moi, she whispered, rumbling her voice. Exhumations and exhalations all around us, the breath of death, bone-stacks, bone-crosses, bone-chips in heaps, my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, maybe, resting in pieces. My lips were swollen and sore, cut and scabbed over from all that had already happened. Skulls placed in the shape of a heart, eye sockets staring, and behind those eye sockets more eye sockets. Shadows moved across us; her nipples hardened. She pressed me up against a white cross against a black tombstone. I will leave you, she said as she bit my throat, but not yet.

Caroline Leavitt, folks, on the discouragement of writing and how to overcome it

This terrific essay by Caroline Leavitt on Susan Henderson’s LitPark: The Sticky Subject of Success

“I wasn’t successful. I knew it. My friends were getting prizes and important reviews and bookstores so filled that people had to wait outside. When people asked me what I did, I said, “I’m a writer?” with a questioning lilt to my voice because I wasn’t so sure, since success seemed so scarce.

I roamed the bookstores and looked at books and I couldn’t figure out, why was this bestseller better than my book? Why did friends of mine get the things I yearned for—and get them so easily? Was I doing something wrong?” -Caroline Leavitt

Sweet criminy, Warsan.

Just read it.

The House, by Warsan Shire

Writing and Disability: She used to be a writer, but then she got sick

At the wonderful Lit Hub, Emma Smith-Stevens writes about the shock of illness, and how losing physical capacity threw everything else in her life into question.

I Used To Be a Writer

Literary spaces for just women? Or not?

Should we publish at women-only presses? “…female literary magazines and collectives are organizations and communities that have been born out of a need, they are voices that deserve to be heard, a necessary force in an ongoing resistance, but also a symbol of how much more work has yet to be done for the literary world to ever solve its gender problem. These women are not only challenging the literary canon with all-female spaces; they’re rewriting it.”–Thea Hawlin

The Rise of Women-Only Literary Spaces, UK Edition

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