Tag: writing


April showers bring May flowers, so the saying goes. In other words, endure April for the reward of May. Yet April offers its own bounty: cherry blossoms, swaths of tulips, and the unfurling of maple leaves, to name a few. April also brings those showers, tree pollen, and temperatures often more like winter than spring. April is an energetic month.

Work: I’m drawn to quotes that reframe the challenges of writing and alter my mindset in an expansive and helpful way. For example, here is a recent newsletter quote from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits:

“If you feel resistance before you begin, it’s usually procrastination and you need to get started.

If you feel resistance after you begin, it’s usually feedback and you need to make adjustments.”

These days I do sit down and get started, because I’m eager to write this book about my Armenian family, to watch the shape emerge, morph, fall flat, and rise again. But it’s taken me a while to implement the second part of the quote. I’ll stare at paragraphs that aren’t working, as if time alone will somehow solve the problem. I’ll make line level edits as if tiny alterations can fix larger issues. (Sometimes they can.) But now I’ve realized a larger adjustment is often what is needed.

Sometimes that adjustment is relocation: the scene or section belongs somewhere else in the book. I move it out of the way and the narrative flows again. Sometimes that adjustment is reordering within a section—printing out and cutting that section into paragraphs can help with the reordering. Sometimes that adjustment is a scene compressed into summary or a summary expanded into a scene. Sometimes that adjustment is acknowledging that this particular material doesn’t belong in the book at all.

If you want to understand, and gain strategies to overcome, the role of resistance in your life, I recommend Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, a book from which I could pull dozens of expansive and helpful quotes. A book that belongs in every creative person’s library. And we are all creative people.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you or reframes an idea or experience?

Wonder: April 24th is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and also my parents’ wedding anniversary. I wonder at their concurrency.

On April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested 250 Armenian intellectuals and thus began the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians, a genocide that also took the lives of Assyrians, Greeks, and Jews. It wasn’t until 1988 that Armenia, then a republic of the Soviet Union, designated April 24 as a public day of commemoration. The California State Assembly, in 1997, declared April 24 as a Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.

On April 24, 1964, my parents married, picking that date because it fell on a Friday. They married in Las Vegas surrounded by family and friends, and returned to work on Monday.

Really there’s not much here to wonder about. These two anniversaries share a day because coincidences happen. I hadn’t made the connection until recently because the Armenian Genocide wasn’t talked about in my family. We didn’t commemorate the tragic event that my paternal grandmother and her two sisters survived.

This April, my sisters and I, and our families, gathered at my parents’ home to celebrate their 60thwedding anniversary, to celebrate love and family. My parents are together, still here, and Armenians are still here, despite the genocide set in motion on April 24th.


Windows: Two trees in bloom: cherry and dogwood.


September’s blog was all windows, October’s wonder, so it follows that this month’s will be about the work, the ongoing writer’s work. The fulfilling and frustrating act of creating art. Though, as I seek more equanimity in all aspects of my life, my mindset regarding this work has been evolving. Less high-highs and low-lows, more acceptance of process, as in the work won’t always go smoothly and that’s okay.

Where I am in the drafting process of my Armenian family book: The manuscript is currently about 50,000 words, 177 pages. My goal is around 80,000 words. Much of the manuscript isn’t fleshed out or fully developed. I have several other Word docs, totaling around 20,000 words, with material waiting to be incorporated into the manuscript. I’m trying to establish, again and again as the story evolves, a solid spine around which to build the body of the book. I have to know what kind of story I’m constructing in order to know what belongs in this book, and as that story keeps shifting, so does what remains, what must be added, and what is deleted. I’ve probably written 80,000 words a few times over in my search for this story, which is, at least for me, a necessary part of the process in creating this book.

How would you describe where you are with your current creative project?

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Work, Wonder, and Windows

Work: Have you heard the term micro prose? I recently took a class from Darien Hsu Gee, a fellow Rainier Writing Workshop alum, in which she illuminated the benefits of writing micro prose: pieces of 300 words or less. She is passionate about this form, and offered much practical advice and inspiration. The writing process she outlined included writing a first draft in ten minutes and then revising in two ten-minute sessions. The short timeframes makes this a flexible and doable practice. For me, this form will be a way to get difficult material down on the page in short bursts. For more information on micro prose, and free prompts, visit Darien’s website Writer-ish.com.

Tech update: On my website, the “subscribe to blog via email” is now available on mobile devices. After the blog post, scroll past the comment section, and at the very bottom is a place to put in your email and subscribe to my blog. Please let me know if that is not the case. I’m pleased that I figured this out on my own, though not thrilled at the number of hours I spent on it when I just needed to add a widget, which was obvious in hindsight and took mere minutes.

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Work, Wonder, and Windows

June 2023

Welcome to my blog. First time here? Check out last month’s blog for info on my intentions for this space.

Work: I’ve started on the next draft of my book, my untitled Armenian family memoir. The last draft I refused to begin with page one—I was sick of page one. I was sick of the beginning that might not even be the beginning, in the end. I picked a pivotal section on page 43 and sailed forth from there. Last week I landed on page 191 with new insights for global revisions, my main goal for that draft. I’ve returned to the beginning, and those new insights are helping me see what belongs here and what decidedly does not, and the fate of the rest of the beginning is uncertain at this point. As a person, I prefer the familiar, the known, the certain. As a writer, I’ve found the only way forward, for me, is to make peace with losing sight of the shore and trust that new lands will appear, eventually, on the horizon.

A helpful resource to take along on the drafting journey: Seven Drafts by Allison K Williams.

How do you tackle your drafts? Always from the beginning? Or do you jump around?

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Work, Wonder, and Windows

May 2023

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.

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The worst part of my day, on the days I run errands, is in the morning when I’m standing in the grocery store watching the clerk ring up my purchases and she asks, “What are you going to do today?” A part of me finds that question an invasion of my privacy, while at the same time I realize she is making small talk. Another part of me is curious—what am I going to do today? My mind scrambles about for my own benefit as well as a polite answer.

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I exercise every day. Every day some form of stretching and strengthening, and a hike or a walk must be done. Why such dedication? Because I’m in training, not for a marathon but for a sit-a-thon. And as we are all learning these days, sitting is not for wimps.

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Every time I start to write a new piece­—a story, a novel, a blog post—I get a sinking feeling in my gut, my chest constricts and a sigh slips through my lips. The glorious piece of writing floating in my mind sprawls on the page like a pig wallowing in the mud. A big smelly mess. What is worse than not writing? Writing poorly. If you don’t write, no one will know that you stink. Well, that your writing stinks. (It’s good to separate your self-worth from your work, though most writers will say that’s near impossible.)

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