Gwen Tuinman




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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Unresolved Conflict and Empty Cups

I dislike conflict. Most of us do. But it’s natural (and unavoidable) that situations will arise where we perceive things differently from one another. We each cherish a differently composed montage of principles and our views are uniquely coloured by individual traumas.

Blind anger has never solved a dispute. Rage turns back on its host with snapping teeth and ruinous effect.

Another biproduct of conflict is anxiety. Rumination and catastrophizing are close cousins, also unconstructive and self-injurious—yet so easy to fall in with when the way to resolution is unclear. “The tail is wagging the dog,” I say when my mind loops around that track. This phrase returns me to where I want to live, in the moment. I should be directing my mind’s thoughts, not the other way around.

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Notes on Riding a Bird

If I could take a ride on anything in the world, I’d choose a bird. As a child, I loved the story of Thumbelina, a girl—you guessed it—the size of a thumb. She could stand eye to eye with a frog, sail a fallen leaf across a pond and wear buttercups as hats.

The book illustrations were in a style reminiscent of the Victorians. My favourite was of Thumbelina riding a cerulean blue barn swallow with a burnt orange belly and a split tail. Together they soared above farms, church steeples, and villages. I hope an illustrator one day sees Thumbelina as an Indian girl swooping along the Ganges River, an afroed girl rocking Black Girl Magic a mile above her neighbourhood, or a First Nation girl leaning over a wing to touch the tops of soft pines.

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