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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist Speaker Advocate

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introspection

The Truest Sentence

There is nothing more daunting—yet beckoning—than a blank page. I wrote this line while journaling in the voice of my new protagonist. Funny how, without intending to, our characters become a writer’s confessor.

Each time I sit down to begin a new chapter or essay, gremlins begin whispering. You’ve lived only one life. How much can you have left to say? I wonder if I’ve milked every original thought in my head. The last piece is surely the best I’ve written. How will I rise to the occasion again? Then I remind myself, that I am a writer and creativity is a sustainable resource. The more I drink from the cup, the faster my creativity replenishes itself. This has proven true again and again. New ideas crystalize, words flow, and a new piece is completed. But the next time I start anew, I’ll look back on that work with fondness, then gaze worriedly at the blank page. What now?

Continue reading “The Truest Sentence”

Goal: Informed Feminism

I recently came across the term pop-feminism. It refers to the enthusiastic hearting and sharing of feminist slogans on social media posters–but without investing oneself in learning about the highlighted issue. I may or may not have been guilty of that time to time. (Cough!) A certain level of self-awareness urges many of us to look beyond our own bubble and grasp what’s going on in the Continue reading “Goal: Informed Feminism”

Learning to be Lost

So many of us feel lost and rudderless. Blind faith with which we’ve lived the routine of our lives now waivers. The uncertainty of not knowing where to set our foot next leaves us trembling. This is a year of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

We live inside and outside ourselves. There are so many ways to get lost in either region. Our emotional or intuitive compass loses its due north. Words like must and should erode dreams, the Continue reading “Learning to be Lost”

Character Therapy

Poet William Stafford wrote, “So the world happens twice—once as we see it as is; second, it legends itself deep, the way it is.” So, the writer first experiences the event, then processes details, and retells the story, teasing out the subtleties to make a point. She holds up the magnifying glass. See, this is how we are! We’ve all been hurt this way.

To have lived an experience is not enough. Writers are led by an urge to re-examine, find meaning, dig deeper. We are forever looking forward, forecasting, reflecting, being present, watching for those fire flies of an idea.

Continue reading “Character Therapy”

When True Feelings Slip Out

Most mornings I spend an hour and a half reading nonfiction texts and reflecting. Recently, I’ve been thinking about racist views shared on social media. Coincidentally, in preparation for shaping the imaginary world in my next novel, I’m reading “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” by Erving Goffman. It’s an older publication, but I’m gleaning inspiration here none the less. Continue reading “When True Feelings Slip Out”

Necessary Voices

We booklovers read for entertainment, but also to see a whisper of ourselves and to feel heard. Stories show us how other people avert disaster, conquer sorrows or live to the fullest. So, what’s in it for the writer? Continue reading “Necessary Voices”

Beginning and Ending

“I like to live always at the beginnings of a life, not at their end.”


This quote by essayist Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) caught my attention recently. While brief, it’s a thoughtful prescription for living that I’ve been mulling over the past few days.

What did Anaïs mean by “at the beginnings of ‘a’ life”? Continue reading “Beginning and Ending”

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