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.