When I was pregnant with my first daughter Natalie in 1986, the Chernobyl reactor exploded and the threat of a nuclear cloud passing over the Pacific Northwest and radiating the six-month old fetus inside me freaked me out. Later, when I was pregnant with Ana in 1989, tanks rolled over Tiananmen Square, scattering protestors, killing …

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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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For years now, I’ve been going to the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference at Centrum. It’s a ferry ride and a scenic drive 60 miles from Seattle. Located on a peninsula on a larger peninsula, the surroundings are beautiful, the faculty stellar, and the participants fun to be around. Every year, I meet remarkable people. Though …

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Recently, on the third anniversary of my mother’s death, I went to Hedgebrook to have some writing time as well as to teach at the Summer Salon, a day of small-group writing workshops given in the Hedgebrook cottages. Three years earlier, I had been scheduled to do the same, but the week before my departure …

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I didn’t do any writing on our recent three-week vacation in Spain. I’d brought some work with me – notes on the novel I’m trying to finish, and ideas for a final story to add to a collection I’d previously considered ready to submit. Never touched any of it. Too busy sightseeing, eating (paella, bocadillos …

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Every month is literary for readers and writers, but it seemed like April has been especially full of events for me, both as participant and audience. Here’s a brief rundown: AWP I’m going to cheat and start with AWP, which was at the end of March, so practically April, right? I went to a lot …

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We, the once geeky and near-friendless high school students, who observed but never took part in cool happenings, who skirted the outermost margins of the outermost social groups, who always wore the wrong clothes and said the wrong thing – we grew into regular people. And some of us became writers who could avenge the …

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Writers write because they have an affinity, even a compulsion, for words. We love and are driven to make sentences that grow into stories that touch the reader in some way. It’s how we communicate. And even though making sentences might require much hair-pulling and brow-furrowing, we trust that the words, sentences, and clarity of …

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A week after my official retirement date of January 1, I emailed my former colleagues at work. I had been scrupulous about tying up loose ends on my projects before departing in late December, but there was one thing I thought had yet to be resolved for a particular project. My email sparked a string …

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