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Gwen Tuinman

NOVELIST

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writing

On Writing to the Last Chapter

Maintaining focus for the duration of a novel is a lot like running a long distance. If you think you can, you can. A painter friend once told me that when they worked on a piece for over a month, boredom would set in. How did I stick with writing the same novel for two or three years?

The word compulsion leapt to mind. I’ve since distilled where that answer came from.

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On Writing a Personal Essay

When writing a personal essay, I lean toward overwriting. The first draft is for me and subsequent drafts are for the dear reader. Once the excess is simmered off, the resulting flavour is more intense. It’s tempting to pour in every memory levied and fact gleaned from research rabbit holes. Alas, I’m kept in check by a desire to serve the essay and by publication wordcount requirements. Some personal details and research remain on the cutting room floor.

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On Time Elasticity and Writing

Last October, my husband and I moved to a rural property. Since the spring, we’ve planted a small apple and pear orchard and started cottage gardens. We’ve also dug fruit beds and created sixteen 5 x 15-foot market gardens. These projects are labours of love that require daily watering, weeding, and staking. Already, I’m harvesting vegetables and the task of food preservation begins.

I’m also a novelist dedicated to production goals. My inner critic natters in my ear. You’re not spending enough hours with your butt in the chair, it says. But when I step back and analyse the actual facts, I realize that in spite of this new diversion of my time, my output is the same as in winter when hours were more abundant.

This is cause for me to think about time.

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