My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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praise for “Loose Woman” and writers in general

We have been blessed with a few of those marvellous late fall days, the special last days of heat before the cold comes in for good. Yesterday people were out in shorts and tank tops and will be today too. Heaven, especially because it’s so short-lived.

I received a most welcome email today, from the eldest daughter of my friends who are called in the memoir Gail and Alain. She wrote about having read Loose Woman, which contains an account, in honest, intimate, and sometimes unflattering detail, of her family’s long ago life. I’d wondered if any of their five kids, three of whom actually appear in the book as small children, would read it and if so, what they’d think. 

She wrote: I loved your account of a free – not just loose but curious and alive person who has seen l’Arche and my family’s craziness for real. I cannot count the times I thought I did not have the words to describe what that life has been. Your book does this in wonderful and touching ways. And for all the times that pre-date l’Arche in your story, you tell of moments that we can all relate to, as we grow and discover life and the world. Your description of Gail and Alain is so sensitive and brings objectivity to my lived experience. Finally, it’s incredibly funny. 

So thank you for this book, I loved it – and good luck for the next one.
 
I wrote back to assure her that her parents were sent the manuscript to vet before any attempt at publication was made. The travails of the memoirist: writing about people who are very much alive; the great relief when they appreciate what’s on the page. I’ve known this fiercely idealistic, lovely, hilarious young woman, now a mother of three herself, all her life. How glad I am to have her stamp of approval. 

What I want to write next is about my fascinating and appalling parents, who are not here to complain or object. I just re-read last year’s attempt at embarking on the story — 38,000 words, half a book, I’d say — and was chagrined to conclude that it doesn’t really work. The problem is voice — tone. Finding the right tone and POV helps find the way to start, and I’m off. But finding tone and voice and starting place can take years, at least, for me. 
I take heart as a floundering writer from the words above, and also from the words of the first reader of Loose Woman for the Whistler competition, who chose it as a finalist and whose review spoke of “the author’s distinctive personal voice — smart, insightful, and humorous. She consistently engages the reader with her authenticity and candor.” And more nice things. 
The reviewer concludes: The story will resonate with folks who listen too attentively to the voice of the inner critic. It’s a beacon of encouragement to stay open to the epiphanies of the soul, trust their innate wisdom, and show the same love and respect to themselves that they offer to the world.
I may have written that, but when my inner critic takes over, as she so often does, I need to be reminded of it on a regular basis. I will try to trust my “innate wisdom.” Hard as that is, sometimes. 
Thanks to all who write to writers and give them, in their solitary endeavour, a boost!
A surprise inclusion in the Writers’ Union of Canada newsletter:

Speaking of giving writers a boost, I watched the Giller awards last night. The maxim goes, If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. So I will not say anything, except that the event is a welcome celebration of the craft of writing fiction.

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2 Responses to “praise for “Loose Woman” and writers in general”

  1. I don't give a crap what the Giller people say, and I don't agree with the maxim "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I ascribe to Anne Lamott's quote – “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your story. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

    Recounting the unfiltered story of my life while exemplifying the famous French proverb, la vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid (revenge is a dish best served cold), I serve up in my memoir, due out in a month or two, a banquet of excoriating recriminations directed at the three individuals who deceived my dying mother and myself. No holds barred!

    "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". Pffff. That's for spineless sissies who are so worried about what other people think that they erase themselves.

    Juliet in Paris

  2. beth says:

    This made me laugh, Juliet, and yes, I love Anne Lamott's quote and have quoted it myself often. However, I knew that if I started writing about what was absurd and tawdry about the Gillers, I'd never stop, it'd be a long boring rant. Suffice to say – the show was absolutely mind-bogglingly terrible, but I didn't want to waste time and energy going into it.

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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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Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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