One of my motivations to write is connecting with others, and that connection can’t begin until the work goes out into the world. As I am currently writing a book, it’s a long slog before that engagement can begin. So I’ve decided to reboot, revive, and recommit to my blog.
This blog will be loosely organized in three categories: Work, Wonder, and Windows. What I am up to with my writing; wonderings inspired by books, podcasts, articles, essays, anything really; and what I’m seeing out my window on my borrowed piece of the planet between the Salish Sea and the Cascade Mountains.
Work: I’m expanding my MFA creative nonfiction thesis into a book-length work about my relationships with my Armenian grandmother and her two sisters, and the silence surrounding their life in Turkey and how they survived the Armenian Genocide. I’ve published two essays related to this work: “Geraniums” at Complete Sentence and “Tante Silvia’s Flinch Cards” at The Keepthings.
Side note: If you are considering pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing through a low-residency program, I’m happy to answer questions about such programs in general and my own everything-I-needed-it-to-be experience at the Rainier Writing Workshop.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reading, selecting, and editing essays for Red Wheelbarrow Writers’ fourth anthology, Spring and All, a collection of stories, essays, and poems focused on uplift and joy amid the harsh realities of the world. Published by Sidekick Press, the anthology is available now, and the in-person launch is June 11, 4pm at Village Books.
If you’re a writer, what are you currently working on? Writer or not, what other creative activities bring joy to your life?
Wonder: I’m reading Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari, given to me by a writer friend who always strives to lift me up and support me in any way she can. As a person with ADHD and, like everyone else, living in this fast-paced, information-inundated, and distraction-filled world, I seek ways to strengthen my ability to pay attention. One study noted “that if you are focusing on something and you get interrupted, on average it will take twenty-three minutes for you to get back to the same state of focus.” Notifications on smart phones and computers can be a huge source of interruptions, and while I tend to have notifications turned off, there’s always the interrupting habit of “checking” my phone, like the earth won’t keep spinning if I don’t. New goal: During my writing times, I’m going to put my phone in a different room and give myself two hours without it.
Side Note: I recently finished Side Notes from the Archivist by Anastacia-Renee, a book that uses the lens of history, of viewing oneself and being viewed by society to create a powerful memoir in poems. The writing is so expansive; anything I could say about this book feels reductive.
Reading a book worth recommending? Please drop the name in the comments below.
Windows: Looking out the window is one of my favorite things to do. My eyes get a break from close-up work, my body gets a chance to stretch, and my mood shifts by observing the outside world. What I’m looking at this month: All the shades of green, brilliant to dusky. Blossoms of lilac, sweet woodruff, wisteria, rhododendrons, lily of the valley, tulips, columbine.
Side note: Looking around inside also works: a photograph, a plant, a pet, a personal memento, anything that may give you a moment of uplift.
On either side of the window, what are you noticing this month?
My commitment to you, dear reader, is to blog at least monthly but no more than weekly, to keep the blogs short (under 1000 words) and, hopefully, bring some delight, reflection, and camaraderie to your day on this, as my Armenian grandmother Matilda Haigazn Englestad described it, tiny beautiful jewel of a planet.
May 28, 2023 at 10:03 am
I love seeing your words again and I’ll try to keep up.
May 30, 2023 at 3:02 pm
Thank you! Happy writing to you.
May 26, 2023 at 9:04 pm
Love the post–so good to see you’re doing them again!
I’m reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Also Atomic Habits by James Clear off and on.
Love the photo of your beautiful place. We are so lucky, aren’t we ❤️
May 27, 2023 at 9:09 pm
Thanks! I have Wilkerson’s Caste in my to-read pile, and I’ve heard good things about The Warmth of Other Suns. I receive James Clear’s weekly short email newsletter, which has been inspiring and helpful. Yes, we are lucky. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by nature.
May 24, 2023 at 9:06 pm
Love this blog post and hearing about your writing, book recommendation, and the invitation to look closely at where we live and notice those things that we may have taken for granted. I’m writing essays in a workshop intensive with Priscilla Long. A lot of work and creatively inspiring. A book of fiction I read awhile ago and loved is The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung. A beautifully written story about a brilliant female mathematician, family secrets, discrimination, perseverance. Looking forward to your next post!
May 25, 2023 at 9:03 am
You are an expert observer, my poet friend, and you inspire me in my observations. The Tenth Muse sounds intriguing. I look forward to your new essays!
May 24, 2023 at 9:56 am
Enjoyed reading this sister : )
May 25, 2023 at 8:57 am
Thanks for reading! Love you!
May 24, 2023 at 9:37 am
Glad to see your blog revived! Wishing the same for mine! I finished Demon Copperhead recently. Hands down one of the best books I’ve read, ever. Currently halfway through Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. Loved his Cutting for Stone. And this one is epic and compelling. Also worked my way through the Fredrik Backman trilogy about a small hockey town in Scandinavia. Excellent writing.
May 25, 2023 at 8:57 am
Yes I want more of your blog, I want to hear the rest of the Mexico adventures! So what if April is over, keep the alphabet train rolling! I’ve never read a bad Kingsolver book and now my expectations are pretty high for this one. Thanks for all the book recommendations, they all sound interesting. Safe travels.
May 24, 2023 at 9:22 am
Great post, Laura. And the photo of your yard – so beautiful and peaceful. I’m working on two thrillers — Such Lovely Skin is currently with JD Barker for a deep dive edit, and I’m writing a new book – untitled. Nancy, Jack Remick, his writer buddy, Frank, and I meet every Tuesday (Zoom) and take turns in “the hot seat.” We are brutal with the work and the work grows. Heading to Prince George to do research during black fly season (for the book I’m writing now). Going to stay with a woman I met at Surrey International Writers Conference last fall. Community!
May 25, 2023 at 8:51 am
Thanks, Jes. Glad to get an update on your writing projects. Black flies, no fun but the research must be done! Community is wonderful. I’m grateful for all my writing friends.
May 24, 2023 at 8:59 am
Great blog post, Laura. I am currently reading, Demon Copperhead, a modern-day retelling of David Copperfield, which is harrowing but marvelously written (it was co-winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize. And I am writing a novel which is a sequel to the young adult novel, A Willow Cabin at your Gate. My windows are not as fun as yours.
May 25, 2023 at 8:48 am
Thanks for the book recommendation—Barbara Kingsolver is a marvelous writer. Love your novel title!