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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist

Women Grieving: Victorian and Edwardian Mourning Rules

I’ve been researching death and grieving in the early 1900s to inform the novel I’m currently writing. Death was no stranger. An article published by Berkley University, tells that just years earlier in 1830s London, England, life expectancy of middle to upper class males was 45 years. Tradesmen generally lived until 25 years, and labourers until 22 years. In working class families, 57% of children died by the age of five. With the prevalence of deaths, rituals shaped by grief helped mourners to cope with their losses.

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On Writing a Personal Essay

When writing a personal essay, I lean toward overwriting. The first draft is for me and subsequent drafts are for the dear reader. Once the excess is simmered off, the resulting flavour is more intense. It’s tempting to pour in every memory levied and fact gleaned from research rabbit holes. Alas, I’m kept in check by a desire to serve the essay and by publication wordcount requirements. Some personal details and research remain on the cutting room floor.

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Where Stories Live

Nothing kills story innovation faster than our inner critic. It’s counterintuitive, but when writing drafts, we need to turn our brains off. When we work from our conscious mind, the ego takes over. What a poor sentence! That character should be more likable. Does this even resemble a book page. Our writing choices become predictable and guarded. The inner editor pulls us away from the magic.

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