My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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“I know here”

A wonderful visit this morning: Laurel Croza came to show me her book. Laurel took my Ryerson class in 2003, and as she did the first writing exercise, she tumbled into vivid memories of her childhood in the northwest of Canada. One of her stories was about a girl who’s being forced to move from everything she knows in the north to the big city, and how she copes.
I’m proud to tell you that Laurel’s story is now a haunting picture book published by Groundwood, one of Canada’s best young people’s publishers; it’s called I know here, it’s beautifully illustrated by Matt James, and it’s coming out in March. Laurel is the most unassuming person, full of self-doubt but also brave and persistent; she stuck to her work, to her need to be heard, and here is her book. With more, undoubtedly, to come. Brava, Laurel.
My first home class was last week, a group of writers who’ve been working with me for some time, gathered in my living-room. Afterwards, Liz sent this.

Of everything that I love about this class, I marvel most at the honesty. It is not brutal honesty, but gentle, thoughtful and genuine honesty, spoken with the best intentions to create not only superb writing but to preserve the heart of the writer. What can be better than this?

And another:

It was, as always, an evening of sharing and caring and some beautiful writing—mixed in with your sensitive and insightful comments. A terrific group!!

I guess it is my calling, and it’s certainly an honour, to be a midwife of life stories.

Busy yesterday – the first U of T class of the term in the afternoon, and the second Ryerson class in the evening. When I got home that night and turned on CBC radio, “Ideas” was presenting an in-depth documentary about Yeats, interviewing other Irish poets about his life. I’d walked in stuffed with words from two classes, but found that sitting with a glass of wine, listening to Irish voices tell about the great William B. Yeats, I had room for lots more. Thank you again, CBC, for assuming that there are intelligent listeners out here with patience and curiosity.

Then, from the sublime to the ridiculous, I did a bit of surfing to check on the Golden Globes. I’d turned the show on briefly and then turned it off. Life is too short, I thought, to sit here for hours watching screaming people in sparkly dresses and suits hug each other. Now, with a bit of surfing the next day – the best dressed, the worst, various gossip mongers – I got the gist in ten minutes of reading instead of hours of watching. Another little victory for sanity. Not sure I’ll be able to do the same for the Oscars, though every Oscar night, by the end of that marathon, I always ask myself, “Why the #$%&* did I waste my night?” So maybe I’ll give this new way a try.
And a final word on the joys of aging: it has been my privilege, through the years, to have been compared to various actresses. Charles Bukowski the poet, whom I met in Vancouver when I was 25, told me I was a “young Lauren Bacall” – though as he was trying to seduce every nymphet in the room, that might have been a much-used line. (Though I was flattered, it didn’t work with me.)
Later, my mother-in-law thought I looked like Natalie Wood, at least, she did before the divorce, and I was regularly compared to Vanessa Redgrave, which I also found highly flattering if absurd – we are both tall, but she is beautiful with cheekbones and I am interesting with none. But the other day, as I walked into the Y, a man doing push-ups outside stopped and said, “Wow, you look so much like that actress … what’s her name?”
I stood, smiling in a gently self-deprecating way, waiting for “Vanessa Redgrave” and wondering who else might come up … Catherine Deneuve?
“Carol Burnett!” he explained. “That’s it. You look just like Carol Burnett!”
“She’s funnier than I am,” I replied with just a touch of bitterness and went into the Y.

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2 Responses to ““I know here””

  1. Anonymous says:

    Comment testing. Comment Testing. 1 2 3 4.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It worked. Tra la.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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