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Gwen Tuinman

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Trip to a Goat Farm

Oh my gosh—goats! Since choosing to incorporate a small herd into the novel (in progress), I’ve become completely enamoured with the little scamps. My curiosity was fully lit after a call out to my Facebook community garnered anecdotes and recommendations on where to learn more. I’m continually grateful for the anecdotes and facts they shared, many of which will colour the pages of my story.

“When they are happy, they do a little ‘corkscrew’ dance/prance which is very comical.” ~ Mila

 “The goat, unhappy at being left alone, would invariably open the field gate with her horns and strike out for company, joining us companionably for the duration of the walk.” ~ Aisha

“Merlin is so sweet & loving, & so smart! He loves to come up to you and let out a quiet maa, waiting for a leg or head massage.” ~ Hanna

Part of acquiring context and developing authenticity in writing can involve field research. I took that term quite literally when my husband Eric and I recently visited friends, Candice and Ken at their farm in Northumberland County. They introduced their herd of Lamancha goats and acquainted me with the basics of their behaviour and care. After growing up with fairy tales and children’s stories featuring billy goats, nanny goats and kids, it’s going to take some practise to refer to them as a buck and a females as a doe, and a youngster as a buckling or doeling.

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The Writer’s Quandry: Immersion vs Seclusion

A writer’s life involves a delicate balance between immersion and seclusion. We must be of the world to discover events and locales for exploration, to stimulate curiosity, to develop observations and empathy. In the chaos and trauma of everyday life, we learn what it is to be human. Our writing is not restricted to solely the inspiration of our own lives. Otherwise, we’d each write one or two books, perhaps a handful of poems, and be spent. The experiences of loved ones and complete strangers also inform our creations.

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Harvesting Hay by Hand

A large part of writing life is spent researching information that, when woven into a story, creates a believable world that readers will enjoy spending time in. This process is immensely enjoyable to me. Currently, I’m writing about characters who are wintering a horse and a few goats in the early 1900s. The livestock will require hay. Since the people have no access to mowing equipment, I’m learning about how they would have harvested hay by hand. I really enjoyed these videos and I hope you will too.

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