“We are essayists. We can make a difference,” Stephanie Elizondo Griest said in her electrifying keynote talk that capped the three-day NonfictioNOW Conference in Phoenix recently. I’m a fiction writer. But I went – an interloper, a mole – to glean what I could about writing essays. Not to forsake fiction. I’ll always wants to …

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Well, summer is officially over and, as usual, it went by in a blur. But in that blur, there were some, as Virginia Woolf described them, “moments of being,” things felt intensely and shot through with awareness. In June, my daughter Natalie and I spent her birthday in Tijuana and Rosarito, sampling street tacos, drinking …

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I’m at Mineral School, an artist residency in the town of Mineral, WA (population 200), just off the highway that leads to Mount Rainier. My writing studio and my living space is an old classroom. That’s 800 square feet of classroom, bigger than the apartment my husband and I recently moved into. If I knew …

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Thanks to a grant from 4Culture, I’ve made progress on my next novel. The working title is OFELIA AND NORMA, based on the main characters. The novel grew from my short story “Strong Girls,” which was first published in Calyx in 2008, anthologized in 2016, and included in my short story collection HOLA AND GOODBYE, …

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You could say I asked for it, that I knew what I was getting into. Still, I went. To the San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference. I wrote about it in a previous post. I’d long known about the conference. And I’d long wanted to experience San Miguel de Allende, its picturesque cobblestone streets, its …

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Last week at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, I took notes at the craft lectures I attended. I typed them up, one sentence per line. Some of the sentences began to wander out of order, began to find each other to make these stanza things. I’m not a poet and I apologize to the poets …

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When I was in college I took a geology class. I learned about igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. I learned about formations and their layers of sand and stone. Whatever their scale – the immensity of a cliff or the insignificance of a pebble – I saw them as inert and objective, separate from or …

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It was my choice to spend Christmas alone. Early Christmas morning my husband flew to L.A. to spend the holiday with our older daughter Natalie. She had just returned from a trip to the Philippines and getting her jetlagged self onto another plane to come to Seattle was out of the question. I’m heading to L.A. …

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