On Not Writing About Death

Book title in white letters on black background, The Art of Death

For my 69th birthday in June, one of my sisters gave me a book called The Art of Death by Edwidge Danticat. The subtitle is Writing the Final Story. It’s from The Art Of series edited by Charles Baxter and published by Graywolf Press. In it, Danticat examines death scenes from works by Toni Morrison,…

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Turning sixty-nine

Woman with glass and bottle of wine on table in front of her

Partly from nostalgia for a more youthful me and partly from bemusement at having arrived at the age of 69, I tried to remember what marked each of the years of my life ending in the number nine in terms of my writing. Age 9 – It was the year and month of the Cuban…

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My AWP 2022: All real, all true

Headshot of five women standing next to each other

AWP – that annual mega writing conference that some abhor and others adore, or at least like well enough to attend when they can and feel a pang of regret when they can’t. I last attended in 2019 in Portland, canceled my plans for 2020 in San Antonio as the pandemic loomed, and tuned in…

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There’s Gnome Place Like Home

Potted plants with garden gnomes

Much of my fiction is set in a place that resembles my hometown of National City, California and some of my characters live in a house that resembles the National City house I grew up in. I’ll argue that these similarities are due not to writerly laziness or lack of imagination, but to an emotional…

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Rejection and Acceptance

A series of the word "Declined"

Rejection is part of a writer’s life. We all know this. Rejections will outnumber acceptances. It’s a statistical certainty. So we learn to respond to rejection with acceptance—at least intellectually. But our very human emotions insist otherwise. When I receive a rejection for my work, the first thing I feel is disappointment, and then a…

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Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories one year later

Drawing of a girl writing at a desk with lamp

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories about a brown girl just wanting to be seen and heard. It’s been weird and fun, celebrating online. Each time after an event, watching faces disappear from my screen was an eerie and sad thing. At some events, the audience…

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Donna’s Excellent 24-Hour Literary Adventure

Jane Hodges picked me up at 1:30 last Thursday afternoon at my North Seattle apartment to drive me to Mineral, a small community in the foothills of Mount Rainier. In its Wikipedia entry, Mineral’s amenities are listed as “a post office, two churches, one general store, one tavern, a log lodge (in the National Register…

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