than a few poem edits and this essay right here, I haven’t had a small press
writing day in months. But I did draft this essay on a Saturday in October, and
am still amazed that I had the two hours:
also a writer, works weekends in retail, so we brought him to work this morning,
then spent two hours shopping for parts for my son’s Hallowe’een costume before
grocery shopping. I hate buying ready-made food, because I hate wasting money,
and every time I do, I picture my retirement and any leaves to write again before
then drifting further and further away into the future, but on Saturdays, my
son and I go to Metro and buy a couple of wraps for $5 each, because its been
months since I’ve been able to manage making and cleaning up our own lunch on a
Saturday, since it’s the same day I do all the errands and cleaning and make
dinner, preferably one that makes ….
had to stop to teach my son how to colour with pastels so he can colour the
cardboard coffins we picked up this morning. I also reminded him, though too
late, unfortunately, to wash his hands after experimenting with them, so now
his art supply box is decorated with streaks and marks roughly the size and
shape of a nine-year-old’s fingers.]
of leftovers so our lives are easier later in the week, then pick my partner up
for the end of his day before we all have dinner, clean up and, this Saturday,
do some of the Halloween decorating so my partner can be here for it, although
first I’ll have to dust the house so we can set out the decorations. I admit I’m
putting that part off because I resent how it represents my absolute failure as
an adult and a woman that I regularly let the house get this dusty when we
don’t even live out in the country where I could make excuses about open doors
and blowing sand. I am trying not to also resent the friend who asked me last
week if our cat’s asthma diagnosis “could maybe be from all the dust?” I feel
it would be rude of me to consider her rude when she is, after all, right about
my failure here.
get me wrong. Despite an artistic flair for self-pity, my life’s not any harder
than that of any other writer, or, at least, any female writer with other
humans relying on her, that I know of. And my depression and anxiety probably
aren’t any worse than those of the many women and writers I ….
had to help find a way to clean chalk off of cardboard.]
of either, though I admit I’m probably still emotionally exhausted from the
months of caregiving and worrying earlier this year as my mother was dying.
That said, my latest medication does seem to be relatively more effective in
keeping me from falling too far into the abyss when it comes. It also has the
added bonus of restoring my libido after years of it being crushed by the
avalanche of previous little pills, not that there’s any time to do anything
about this new …
had to give tissue-related advice.]
but maybe it will add to my creativity, because I really do plan to go back to
writing after I finish the final edits of this anthology of other writers’ work
I am co-editing, which am honestly extremely excited about, even though it took
much more time than I’d expected, but it was probably a good distraction from
the dying and the being overwhelmed and, of course, the abyss that still slides
open beneath me at the most unexpected times.
asked about my small press writing day. And today, though it doesn’t, of
course, include writing, it has included waiting for emails back from a couple
of small reading series who have been kind enough to invite or agree to have me
to read. My kid played while I updated my submission tracking sheet to account
for the rejections that came in this week, and I remembered, finally, to find some
sort of postcard to sign and put in the copies of my book my publisher is
giving away on Goodreads this month. And as I write all this I realize this
post is the longest thing I’ve written in ages and I might even post a link to
it in the writing support group I’m part of on Facebook, since their shared
misery helps keep me sane and it seems only fair to reciprocate when I can.
of this list of things I have managed to do reminds me what I’ve thought for
some time is the most personally important part of small ….
writing, which is to support each other, at all stages: before, during, after
and in between writing. Online, in the articles, posts and tweets I read to
remind myself I’m a writer during breaks at my day job, I see so much crushing
guilt, especially from female writers. It’s in response to the enormity of the
chasm between the expectations (often our own, driven into us from all angles
of society) to not only be perfect in filling every, single one of our many
roles, but to be seen by others as filling these all perfectly, all of the time,
while also, to our own standards, writing at the top of our game, and as
prolifically as possible.
there is no way to change pink back to white, son, but your timing is
interesting and there’s a lesson you could take from what just happened here…]
you’re a small press writer (or a painter or a woodworker or a costume
designer) who probably won’t write (or paint or build or sew) ….
had to turn the lights on throughout the house; the dark can still be scary, no
matter how slowly it comes in.]
for a day or a week or a month or who knows how long, it is not a failing.
say it again, for both of us: We have not failed. Holding it close will not
kill it. Alistair McLeod wrote and published so little, really, but what he did
was bloody brilliant and he refused to be pushed for more. Sylvia Plath and
Anne Sexton and Gwendolynn McEwan (and so many others) pushed and were pushed,
and their work was spectacular, but they broke or were broken in the meantime.
idea of economy and of value itself (human and financial) is based on the
inherent good of productivity. But I am no one’s factory, and neither are you.
Maybe you can write through it all, thanks to gadgets and good planning, or
through funding and support, or the emotional labour of others. Maybe your
bootstraps are just stronger than mine.
you do not write, or build or make anything, today, I promise I won’t hold it
against you, if you don’t hold it against me. I believe you when you tell me
you will make it work, eventually, and when you need to. Carol Shields waited
for all of her children to be in school before she started writing in earnest.
Maybe your next eventually, or mine, won’t even be long from now. It could be
in a week or two. Or maybe it’s a decade away.
a poetry manuscript and a bunch of fiction to work on when I resurface. Right
now, I’m being called ….
wait a minute, kiddo; I’m almost done.]
and the cars are rushing by the house in a steady stream of humans needing to
be somewhere else, and the cat is wheezing from an asthma attack, and I have to
find somewhere to move the pile of 30 books from the coffee table before I can
even start to dust, and I haven’t even thought about starting dinner yet, and I
am definitely not going to manage to write another blood word today, but I HAVE
are words out there that are mine, I …
Well, at least I learned today that soap and hot water do wash pastel off a
dining table, if combined with enough scrubbing.]
made things, I fundamentally need to make more things, and because the
depression has neither killed me nor made me stronger, I can and I will make
today, of course. Today, I wrote this. I’m going to be puffed up with pride
about it time I’m searching for the rest of the Hallowe’en decorations in the
crawl space, answering my son’s questions about the costumes of the past.
tonight, I’ll also check Facebook and Twitter. I want to be sure the rest of
the writers I know can make it to their next book, too.
Dolman’s debut short fiction collection is Lost Enough (Morning Rain Publishing,
2017). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in journals and anthologies
throughout North America, including Canadian
Ginger, Matrix Magazine, On Spec, Grain, and Triangulation:
Lost Voices. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, and was a finalist
for the 2015 Alberta Magazine Award for fiction. You can follow her on Twitter