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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist

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amwriting

Sustaining Creative Focus

Focus is tough to maintain at the best of times. During this tumultuous period, it’s even more challenging to free our minds from distraction, so our imaginations can run free. This barrier to creativity isn’t new. After renowned English novelist and poet, Charlotte Brontë accepted a teaching position at Roe Head School for girls, (1835-1838), she too grappled with a steep reduction in creative focus. She wrote to a poet laureate in hopes of inspirational advice, and received a reply advising that she “take care of over-excitement, and endeavour to keep a quiet mind.”

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Nova Scotia’s Bessie Hall: Mariner and Heroine

I’ve been reading Women at Sea in the Age of Sail by Donal Baird, a fascinating account of seafaring women from Canada’s east coast in the 1800s. For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I was drawn to the book at a Halifax book store in 2018.

Gender roles of the Victorian era barred women’s aspirations taking to the sea for the purpose of being part of a ship’s working crew. None the less, a number of women in the 1800s travelled along with their husbands for some semblance of family life rather than be left behind to raise children alone. They often gave birth at sea without the care of doctor or midwife, suffered the lack of female companionship, and endured stormy weather and shipwrecks.

Continue reading “Nova Scotia’s Bessie Hall: Mariner and Heroine”

Writing Memoir

I began work on a new memoir essay over the past winter. Cold dark mornings are conducive to introspection. I’d make my 6 am cup of hot water and lemon, then pad downstairs and start the fireplace. Cozied up on the sofa with an artist pad and an assortment of colourful pens, I’d stare into space and take a deep breath. What did I need unearth and grow from? Continue reading “Writing Memoir”

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