Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Tag: Karrie Higgins

Publication Day!

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 1.13.02 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 6.26.17 PM

Always an exciting day for a writer–publication day when we first see our new book! WEEKEND is out! I’m so happy to be launching at Historic Joy Kogawa House, where I’ll be writer-in-residence, on June 6. My special guest is author Anne Fleming and, yes, their new poetry book POEMW and their banjo, which I hear will be plunking out some campfire songs. Sharpen your marshmallow sticks, kids. Price of admission is a ghost story. Here’s hoping somebody will tell one about the ghosts of frogs we pithed in high school!

The most excellent writer Karrie Higgins reviewed my book on Goodreads!

Love will Burst

It’s so great to have your work celebrated. Thanks, Karrie Higgins!

Goodreads

The Adequate Writer: Your work is crap

JEHNov13_2014

sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

We’ve all been there on the receiving end of rejections that are ill-conceived and thoughtless.  Your work is crap, these notes say, in whatever arguably neutral language they couch this in.  Your work made me vomit.  Go shovel walkways.  Go work at Goonies.  Just go away and please, please, please, and whatever you do, stop writing.

They aren’t actually that bad, and most of them aren’t bad at all.  But we feel like they are, right?

It may be that, in fact, our work is crap.  It happens to the best of us.  After 35 years at this, I still write reams of garbage, and, sometimes, I send it out.  But regardless of the status of my submissions, good or bad or in between, the stats for rejection/acceptance stay about 20-1.  Which means that I get one acceptance per couple dozen rejections.

Does being queer enter into that?  Of course it does.  Pieces aren’t judged only by merit.  Unless there’s a push for affirmative action at a magazine, an article/story/poem that is even tangentially about being queer is often overlooked.  Oh, we published a lesbian piece last month.  Not quite for our demographic.  A little too avant garde for us.

Do I care?  Yeah, a lot.  I hate homophobia, and at my age, it’s a tired old saw.  Go play with knives, already.  Get over yourselves and ask more of your readers.

But even so, if I send a piece out–no matter what kind of piece it is–for long enough, with enough diligence, it will eventually find its home, and that won’t be the bottom of the barrel, that’ll be at a magazine/journal/online site where I’ll be proud to publish and they’ll be proud to have you.

Most of being a writer is showing up, keeping at it, being persistent when the whole damned enterprise seems keyed to shutting you down.

Here’s what I know, though.  You can do one thing better than any other writer anywhere:  you can be yourself.

Authors might have talents and skills you don’t have, but you have talents and skills they don’t have, as well.  That’s the thing that strikes me over and over in this long-game:  No one can write like I do.  Often I whine and grumble about that–how I can’t stop being me for five minutes in order to write as brilliantly as, say, Eudora Welty–but really, ultimately, my uniqueness is a good thing.  In fact, in an over-crowded marketplace, it’s the sum total of what I’ve got.  My idiosyncracies?  Those are my only commodities in publishing-land.

Do I wish I had other styles, other skills, other talents?  Of course I do.  Absolutely I do.  If I could write like Arundhati Roy, or Karrie Higgins, or poetry like, say, Alice Anderson or Jane Hirschfield or Marilyn Hacker, or essays like Roxanne Gay, or one true sentence the way Ray Carver could, or a Lidia Yuknavich short chapter, I would die a perfectly fulfilled human being.  If I could turn a sentence like Rebecca Brown or Lorrie Moore or Mavis Gallant or Toni Morrison I would be incandescent.  But I can’t.  That’s them.  That’s their kick at the can.  It’s not supposed to be mine.

Mine is the bit I got.

And that’s a lucky thing.  Because if we all wrote like each other, reading would be a grim task indeed.

Your work is crap?  Make more crap.  Do it the Beckett way:  If you’re going to fail–and you are going to fail–fail better.

 

Kelly Sundberg has a way with words

One the the best things about my 2014 was a group on FB for women writers called Binders, and, in particular, its offshoot group of essayists.  There, I’ve discovered the extraordinary talents of Karrie Higgins, Sonya Huber, Jen Pastiloff and Amy Gigi Alexander, among others.  Colour me grateful.

But this is really a blog post about my discovery of Kelly Sundberg, a writer whose wisdom has the deep purple of new bruise, but also enriches, educates, heals.  She’s literary, sophisticated, and smart as tacks.  Plus, you can warm your hands on her style.

Here she is at her finest:

It Will Look Like a Sunset

And here she is today, on her blog, answering a woman who wrote to her about battering:

On Telling Our Stories

“In divorces, the common mantra is It takes two. This is generally true, but I see people saying the same thing about abuse, and no, it does not take two. Abuse takes only one. And because of that, there are sides in abusive situations, and anyone who truly supports the victim will be willing to take a side, will be willing to eliminate contact with the abusive person, and anyone who thinks that it is “immature” or “petty” of me to say that does not understand abusers. Anyone who thinks that it is okay to remain in contact with an abuser does not understand that the abuser takes silence as permission, that their silence empowers the abuser, and that the person who remains in contact with the abuser (assuming they have not taken a stand directly to the abuser, and let’s face it, if they have taken that stand, then the abuser would have dropped them already) becomes complicit in the abuse. I wholly believe this. It is a controversial view. Our culture thrives on neutrality, glorifies neutrality…”

 

 

Felicitous Life and Karrie Higgins

JEHblackpaper7sketch by Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

There’s a group on FB called Binders.  If I hadn’t joined Binders, I wouldn’t have had my essay Things That Didn’t Happen come out on Manifest Station.  If it hadn’t come out there, I wouldn’t have seen that Karrie Higgins’ brilliant essay Strange Flowers had come out there, too.  You should read it.  You shouldn’t go another day in your life without reading it or knowing that Karrie Higgins is writing some of the best prose seen today.

%d bloggers like this: