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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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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When I was in my forties and even my fifties, retirement seemed forever away. Then suddenly I was sixty-five, eligible for Medicare, and attending retirement seminars at work. After filling out and submitting numerous forms over the course of months, I was down to my last week of work after three decades at the same…

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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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Many years ago, I left my laptop open and my younger daughter read the story I happened to be working on. She asked, “Why did you make me a boy in that story.” “It’s not about you,” I answered. Another time she asked why I killed her off in a story. It’s not about you,…

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Gravitational pull I hadn’t been to Mexico since 1976 when I attended a summer session in Guadalajara after completing an undergraduate degree in zoology. I signed up for Mexican History and Intermediate Spanish but spent most of the time hanging out with a Chicana from L.A. We had spotted each other the first day across…

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I recently spent eight days in the Philippines. That’s eight days out of 64 years of my life. I’ve made a list of over a dozen topics I want to write about. Is it arrogantly absurd that the topics number more than the days I was there? How do I swoop in and out of…

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When you’re waitlisted for the residency you applied for and you’re convinced that being waitlisted is as good as a rejection, you come up with Plan B because your characters are begging for attention, anxious to be nudged from their torpor. So you arrange time off from your day job, secure in the knowledge that…

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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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