My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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On Writing and Failure and ChatGPT’s inventions

I just finished an interesting memoir: Free, by Lea Ypi, about life in Albania during Communism and after; we’re inside the mind of a clever but brainwashed child who’s forced to wake up. Fascinating. And now I’m reading Stephen Marche’s On Writing and Failure: Or, On the peculiar perseverance required to endure the life of a writer. It’s a book all creative writing students should read, a bucket of ice water over the head, about how writers journey constantly into failure. And yet, against all odds, against common sense, we persevere. 

Speaking of persevering against all odds, great news: I just sent the latest draft of my essay book to the publisher. It hit some glitches a few months back and the future looked uncertain, but now I hope it’s on track again. Fellow writer and friend Rosalind Gill read some of the essays and sent me this: I have been reading your essays. They are perfect pieces, each one with its unity and atmosphere. They are full of insight, honesty. The characters are really well depicted – your son, your gardening neighbour, I can see and feel them. Your prose is crisp and lean – with a lovely rumble of irony and human warmth running underneath. And the sum total of all that is a poignant, touching experience for the reader.

Yes, she’s a friend. And yes, I know the life of a writer is about embracing failure. But Jesus God it’s a boost when someone says something like that. Though it will undoubtedly end in failure, I say as the writer of four books which have not sold many copies, perhaps it will give some pleasure along the way. 

Current title: Midlife, Solo: adventures in coping. 

A friend on FB posted what ChatGPT said about him, with 21 facts wrong. So I asked it, again, about me. Beth Kaplan is a Canadian writer, teacher, and performer. She was born in Toronto in 1948 and has written several books, including “Finding the Jewish Shakespeare: The Life and Legacy of Jacob Gordin” and “Loose Woman: My Odyssey from Lost to Found”.

Kaplan has also worked extensively in theatre, both as an actor and a writer. She has performed in various productions across Canada and has written several plays, including “Belle Reprieve” and “A Song in Prague”.

In addition to her creative work, Kaplan has also taught at several universities, including the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario. She has received numerous awards and honors for her writing, including the Canadian Jewish Book Award and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize. 

Amazing. Belle Reprieve and A Song in Prague! They sound wonderful; I wonder who actually wrote them. How I wish I’d won those awards; maybe I did in another life. Also, born in New York in 1950, but hey, what the hell. It states falsities with such blithe confidence. Does it just pull stuff out of its algorhythmic hat?! 

It’s still hot hot hot. Plants, trees, and people are bewildered. Opened my summer clothes and shoes box today to get out sandals and shorts, though they’ll be put away again before long. Rode to deliver my taxes to my friend John who does them; his new office turned out to be near McAlpine Street, in the heart of downtown, where I lived in a communal hippy house for some months in 1972 and ’73 after theatre school, with Larry, Barry, and Fred, who were Homemade Theatre. It was a street of wonderful crumbling old houses full of creative people. This is what is there now: 

I try never to talk about the “good old days,” which are a myth. But sometimes it’s hard not to. 

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2 Responses to “On Writing and Failure and ChatGPT’s inventions”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wish you every good thing with your edits. It's hard work! And those do sound like interesting plays! Maybe it's time to write them?
    Theresa

  2. beth says:

    Belle Reprieve and a Song in Prague – amazing that an algorithm invented them, no? Pulled them out of its giant whirring brain. I don't think my small clogged brain is up to inventing something from those titles, though.

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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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Chris Walks
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.

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

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A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

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