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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist

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writing

I Knew I Was a Writer When …

About fifteen years ago in my pre-author life, I attended a creative writing workshop held at Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario. At the time, I was an educator who’d never put stories to paper. Even so, I recall my enthusiasm for the chance to learn how artwork could launch students’ writing ideas.

The instructor led myself and the other teachers through collaborative writing exercises for which a series of grand oil paintings served as inspiration. To close out the day, we watched a short film produced by our instructor as an introduction to a live theatre piece. We were to watch and then write whatever came to mind.

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Writing Through Insomnia

Insomnia is the canary in my mineshaft.  Just when I think I know what I’m doing in a novel, it swoops in to chirp that I don’t know what I’m doing at all. After staring at the darkened ceiling for hours, I realize there’s flawed logic to be resolved. Too clever for my own good, I’ve painted my protagonist into a corner, corralled him or her into thinking or doing something contradictory to their true self. I dislike an unsolved riddle. A loose end is torture. Until I’ve figured out how to step out of that corner and continue onward, there’ll be no sleep.

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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?

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