My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Here comes the sun and I say, it’s all right

Someone tweeted that God made a deal with Toronto: we’d have the mildest January ever, but no sun. And so it came to be — day after day, week after week, overcast grey skies but early spring weather. As if we were living in Vancouver or London, without mountains and ocean or fabulous theatre and history. Just a hypocritical mayor, hideous traffic and development, scores of homeless people in tents, but no snow.

And then, a big snowfall and cold — and SUN pouring in my window right now. If anything will help my frazzled lungs, it’s this. I’ll take cold and sun over mild gloom any day. Thank you, powers that be. My God that feels good!

Had lunch yesterday with Ruth and Merrijoy. At one point Ruth said, “What’s lovely about this gathering is that one of us is in her seventies, one in her eighties, and one in her nineties.” And I thought – wait, are you including ME? Not possible. Seventies?! No, sorry, you must mean someone else.

Sigh. So be it. Seventies. But barely. 

Being with Ruth and Merrijoy is always inspiring, phenomenal women full of curiosity and life. Merrijoy is 95, still a beautiful redhead, chic, au courant. Ruth is a mere 83, also a marvel. And I – a youngster, taking notes on how it’s done.  

Work continues on the essay book, moving pieces around to find the right order, some rewriting. I sneered reading a review in the Guardian of Love Me Tender, by the controversial French writer Constance Debré, who writes memoir and says it’s fiction, as almost all French memoir writers do, including Emmanuel Carrère and Annie Ernaux. I guess it’s French to tell excoriating truths about your life but pretend it’s not you. CLAIM YOUR TRUTH, I say in class, but am not sure what that would be in French. 

The protagonist and narrator, who is not named, is clearly Debré herself, following in a long French tradition of creative writers who draw closely on real-life events – the most notable being last year’s Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux. Yet though the events are real, Debré firmly considers her work fiction rather than autobiography or memoir, because it relies on the literary art of constructing a narrative, creating a relationship between a character and events. “What makes a novel is its form,” she says.

Phooey, is what I say to that. As if memoir doesn’t construct a narrative and create relationships. PHOOEY. Réclamez votre verité!

There’s a cat in the sun beside me. 

She follows me around and is to be found nearby almost all the time. I love her. She had to be shut in my bedroom, however, when Bandit came to visit the other day. She’s not ready for a big, bouncy, enthusiastic dog. 

Have you ever seen two more handsome creatures? Very good boys, both. 

Hope there’s sun on your face, too. 

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2 Responses to “Here comes the sun and I say, it’s all right”

  1. "…though the events are real, Debré firmly considers her work fiction rather than autobiography or memoir, because it relies on the literary art of constructing a narrative, creating a relationship between a character and events. “What makes a novel is its form.”

    I find that interesting. I must admit that I wonder at times if I should've written my story as fiction. Why? To give it more distance. To be more detached. Does that sound dumb?

  2. beth says:

    Not at all, Juliet – a lot of people do that. I have a student right now who's turning her life into fiction, partly to have distance, as you say, partly to be able to invent things she doesn't know. Two of my students wrote and published memoirs and then turned them into novels in order to share them with family! But when a writer is writing 100% memoir and calling it fiction, it doesn't make sense to me.

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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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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

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

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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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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