Jane Eaton Hamilton

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

Category: articles by others

Shelving Books–not for the meek

Hanya Yanagihara gets my vote here for sheer numbers and gorgeous storage. I think only writers who are visual artists could be comfortable with the results after shelving by colour, don’t you, but nonetheless, Michael Chabon did it. (I was just as impressed at the existence of the summer home.) A fun article by Emily Temple at LitHub.

I organize mine into poetry, short fiction, novels, and non-fiction, then organize by “Best of” collections, and, in non-fiction, by subject (art, photography, biographies, gardening, animals etc) but I don’t alphabetize sections.

How 11 Writers Organize Their Personal Libraries

“So You’ve Sexually Harassed Or Abused Someone: What Now?”

Ijeoma Oluo, writing at The Establishment, offers guidance to men (and womxn) who have harassed or abused someone. It’s advice I wish two of my exes would read and take to heart. How to be honourable, folks.

So You’ve Sexually Harassed or Abused Someone: What Now?

YOSS: Year of the Short Story

2018: The Year of the Short Story!

Okay, okay, we who practice this form declare that every year is year of the short story because of their singular pleasures, and today is the last day to submit to CBC’s yearly contest for them, so it’s a good day to declare a YOSS. We who write in this stunning form want editors, marketing board and publishers to welcome them and not to demand they link and not to say, like broken records, they don’t sell. If they don’t sell, help us change that. Buy them, read them, re-read them, love them. You won’t be sorry. I can tell you that at my house, my short fiction collections get pride of place and take up the most space on my shelves. And are my first and strongest love. I write novels because I think I have to (that great rah-rah), and poetry when it makes me, but I LOVE SHORT FICTION. I have two collections and enough stories here to shape two more– with a lot of rewriting.

Here’s Ayelet Tsabari waxing enthusiastic.

““Confessional Writing” Is a Tired Line of Sexist Horseshit, And Other Insights”

Michele Filgate photo from LitHub

Yonder at LitHub, an edited transcript from Red Ink’s panel discussion on literary misfittery. Recently Lidia Yuknavitch’s book The Misfit’s Manifesto dropped (a book based on her TED talk). Red Ink is the quarterly panel curated by Michele Filgate.

“Lidia Yuknavitch: I think a piece of misfitting has to do with our bodies, and living in a body—and this could be all kinds of people—that is literally pained by the cultural narratives coming at it. And in some ways, maybe that’s everybody, because the cultural narratives coming at us are idiotic.”

 

 

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

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.

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

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

 

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

Lidia Yuknavitch’s Survival Guide for Writers

A while back, the electrifying Lidia Yuknavitch talked to Anna March at Bustle. Two more recent of her books (The Small Backs of Children, The Book of Joan) weren’t published when this interview took place, but the article remains a wonderful piece to guide the working writer back to sanity, and I recommend it.

Bustle

“Matthew Klam’s New Book Is Only 17 Years Overdue” and other tales of failure

 

the new book

Over at Vulture, Taffy Brodesser-Akner has a terrific feature about Matthew Klam’s career and his new book. Every writer should read this. We all deal with self doubt and castigation, I think. The article is a really a good look at Klam’s early fortune; about how just as he was deciding he’d quit writing, he got a yes from Dan Menaker, editor at the New Yorker, for one of his stories. (My stories got lots of comments from Menaker in my time, and once we even moved into editorial, but I never quite got the yes. The story that came closest was published in the Alaska Review.)

The world opened for Matthew Klam, and his list of early awards and honours was daunting. He had it all except for a second book. As the years passed, he still didn’t have a second book. He wrote continually, he tossed continually, he taught instead for its anonymity.

For me, the world never opened, and my talent, which was substantial but wanting, withered from lack of support. I didn’t have an MFA program to weed out weaknesses. I learned slowly. Sometimes folks went mad for one story or essay, but when they wanted more, the more was always so different they didn’t like it. This is a problem with range and writing across genres (and letting my heart have its way).

I needed an imprimatur I didn’t have. A Menaker imprimatur, maybe. Once Ellen Seligman at M+S spent six months telling me yes, telling me no, telling me I don’t know, I go one way, I flop the other way, and I wonder what would have happened if she had said yes eventually, whether that profound novel about child rape in the world of wild mustangs I was then working on would have come to fruition. All these years later, I’m still curious about what would have broken out of me if by chance I had just been valued and nurtured, and really had to work to an editor’s expectations. I would have risen, I know, because I am like that, but in what way, to what end?

What literature did I not produce because I:

a) wasn’t quite good enough?

b) wasn’t repetitive enough?

c) there was discrimination (even inborne and unacknowledged) against certain categories of writers (disabled/queer/feminist)?

d)  wasn’t from the US?

What would those stories and books have been?

I was low-income and a sole-support parent a lot of those years. And of course I asked the same questions Matthew Klam asked himself: What does this matter? Who needs another story? Another novel? To what purpose? To win a prize and still be unable to pay the bills? I certainly never cared about a postmortem reputation–that and $5 I’d get a plastic glass of latte at Starbucks to set on my gravestone.

I won the CBC contest a couple times. I published in the NY Times, the Sun and other strong periodicals (back then and again this year). But no successes ever built, no one ever tucked me under her mentor wing. I still write in my self-propelled bubble without much response. I certainly write now without any hopes at all for the marketplace–really, only to please myself.

I had my perfect form and lost it. I quit writing stories and nobody noticed. I quit writing stories and only a friable piece of my heart noticed. I struggle to write novels, but I am no novelist. I am no novelist.

Maybe Matthew Klam is. I look forward to reading Who Is Rich?

The Vulture

 

 

O publishes “Flipping the Script on Race Expectations”

Chris Buck, photo

Here, at O and Afropunk, the great photo essay flipping the race script.

“For women who are difficult to love”

Warsan Shire, people.

For Women Who Are Difficult To Love

 

Dorothy Allison on Lenny

The inimitable Dorothy Allison on Why Working-Class Literature Is the Strongest

The Remedy for Monday

Here, by Hallie Cantor at the New Yorker, the cure for Monday: Everything I Am Afraid Might Happen If I Ask New Acquaintances to Get Coffee. Thank you, Hallie Cantor, for starting my week off right.

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