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Gwen Tuinman

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writing life

How Gratitude Journaling Enhances A Writing Life

Writing is a lot like running long distances. If we think we can, we can. Our minds and emotions are called upon, and sometimes cajoled, to jettison us across real and self-imposed deadlines. Even when we give it our all, the road can stretch long before us.

Between start and finish lines are magical effortless days anchored by disappointing ones when getting the story down feels like bench-pressing a Buick. And there are mediocre days, at the end of which, we forget the progress made in a manuscript. That’s the nature of art and creativity—knowing it’s so should silence the nattering critic in our heads. Well, at least it should.

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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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