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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist

Believing Each Other Into Being

I’ve begun knitting a new pair of socks in brilliant teal. Already I have a feeling they’re not for me, but for someone else. I can’t envision their face yet or connect my hunch to a voice. No one has requested socks from me. But still, I know. Knit, knit. Pearl, pearl. My earbuds are tucked in and I’m listening to the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett. She’s just quoted a line written by poet, historian, philosopher and author of Doubt, Jennifer Michael Hecht.

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Writing Through Insomnia

Insomnia is the canary in my mineshaft.  Just when I think I know what I’m doing in a novel, it swoops in to chirp that I don’t know what I’m doing at all. After staring at the darkened ceiling for hours, I realize there’s flawed logic to be resolved. Too clever for my own good, I’ve painted my protagonist into a corner, corralled him or her into thinking or doing something contradictory to their true self. I dislike an unsolved riddle. A loose end is torture. Until I’ve figured out how to step out of that corner and continue onward, there’ll be no sleep.

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A Call for Temperance: Canada 1800s-1900s

In the early 1900s era during which my novel in-progress is set, patriarchal power frustrated women’s need for social change, specifically prohibition and ending domestic violence. We’d yet to attain the right to vote and in Canada, women were disallowed from holding public office because we didn’t qualify as “persons” under the definition set forth in the Constitution. Research deepens my understanding of the characters whose stories I tell. I’m feeling their aggravation.

When women unite, mountains move. How true this was when women spearheaded the temperance movement, an international campaign during the 1800-1900s to end social issues stemming from widespread alcohol abuse. Too often, Canadian women and children were impacted by a host of ills associated with alcoholism: domestic violence, poverty, disease, family breakdown, immorality, unemployment and workplace accidents.  

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