Eaton Hamilton

the problem with being trans is cis people. The problem with being queer is straight people. The problem with being disabled is abled people. The problem with being Black is white people. In other words, prejudice.

Category: writing

Some weeks, posts write themselves…

Or Jane Ratcliffe writes them, I should say, on her excellent art and words site, BEYOND. Thank you so much for including my work, BEYOND!

Thanks for having a look and sharing your thoughtful words, folks. It’s been a challenging six months (are they ever not?) so doubly appreciate your input…

September is too busy

C’est moi, today, Sept 26 2022

The hair turns grey. The face gets wrinkled. But I can say with some assurance that it’s better than the alternative, lol. I love getting older. (It’s not my birthday, actually. That’s past. But I’m 68, and concussed. I’d rather *not* be Hilary Mantel, thanks, dead at 70 [with thanks to her for her literary output]). I really love life now and celebrate something about it every day, and usually many more things than just one. The dazzle of the stars tonight around here. The dog peeing just because she got a treat. The five minute break in the yard swing. Overall, I just like the me of me so much better than ever before, with all the judgemental ninnies crowding my space gone, and how I move through the world (largely an abstract idea, since I’m so disabled and my car died [of course it did, because everything around here is breaking: two weed eaters, the fireplace, the dishwasher, the satellite, summer]). I don’t know why aging has such a bad rep. Oh yeah, the extreme poverty of it. The lessening of already-dodgy status. Oh yeah, and the death of it. The finality of not being able to live backwards. (What a gift that would be, keeping all we’ve learned intact. We’d be very with it infants!)

My life now (except for poverty and the continuing burdens of bad health)? Chef’s kiss. Oh yeah.

Have possible weeks, folks, and I’ll try to too. Admire you all for getting through this life, when I know Canada in particular is thrusting the opposite at you every damned day. Cheers!

What an effing week…

Painting by: Eaton Hamilton, 2022; “Slouching” oil stick and fingerpainting on stretched canvas

This is me, I swear, though I am the next thing to bald (with many crop circles from alopecia):

It’s my new oil stick and fingerpainted work, on stretched canvas, one of a series of non-binary folks dressed mostly in black against colourful backgrounds. Inquire for price and size.

As far as work goes, wowsers. I’m sure it’s that I have not a second free and a list that could circle the globe of urgent TO DOs that I would suddenly, suddenly, enter a writing time warp and have to do nothing else. No, actually, it’s just as much deadlines. Now or never on those. Short work. Three full-length stories in various stages of drafts. Three short pieces out of nowhere. I need to get back to the memoir in the worst way (I ache for it and it’s owed), but, first, these necessities. What an incredibly fertile time, though, per most Septembers, and a mix of stressy and fun at the same time. Need to accomplish finishing one essay as well. Then freedom of sorts, back to painting and writing half and half each day (with loads of time off to accommodate dog and disability).

How is September for you? How you holding up? When I was parenting, I used to call Sept “Hell month.” Kids were freaked by getting up and out, new classrooms and teachers, new clothes, new pencils, and came home wrecked by having to keep up appearances all day, trying to get along, trying to fit in, trying not to mis-step. And homework! No need for anything except volunteer homework in primary–if you want to do it, please do. If you don’t care to, please don’t.

Today, I am dull

painting: Eaton Hamilton, oil stick on oil paper

…but hopefully my work still is not! Not much from my pen or oil stick this week with a new pupper and a concussion. Today I feel pretty ill.

Nonetheless, I wish you a safe and cheering week.

Excellent writing week

painting by Eaton Hamilton, 2022, oil sticks and fingers on canvas

I was mentioning zoom/autism collision last week, but I have more to say now. I was trying to write flash with other folks for a couple of weeks (to spur energy for memoir revision) when I melted down (the meltdown was entirely private. No one knew. No one saw, and it was the first time I’d experienced such a thing without stuffing it deep inside rather than reacting, and I stimmed in intriguing ways which discharged the energy and got me to baseline quickly. Like, I dropped a mask. I wish I’d filmed my right hand because I’ve tried to redo what it was doing and I can’t move that fast; my coordination isn’t good enough. Wish I’d filmed it while I was looking at it). I did write two flash pieces in between all the other demands. Admittedly, I used to write a lot of flash, some of which were published, but it was largely at the time I’d stopped submitting poetry and flash (and barely submit longer forms), so I’ve never done anything with them, except I compiled a book, too, of just flash, and sent it out once, and when I heard nothing never sent it out again.

Do what I say, don’t do what I do–don’t not submit, lol. It is a self-abnegating way to live. I got tired of publishing, though, having never earned a living from it.

I sure write a lot, though, which is really what this post is about. All my figurative drawers are stacked with pieces. Full length, finished novels, stories, essays, poems, some of which need revisions and some of which would be fine to go out. Though I didn’t touch the memoir, it was still a writing-strong week. Being around the flash writers helped trigger something in me. Not what I was hoping for, which was new juice for revising memoir, but something else–short fiction. Out poured the two flashes, two full-length stories, one shorter story and a good three-quarters of an essay.

Hurrah!

They need brushing up but they don’t need new new scaffolding or any major changes. Then they too can go into figurative drawers never to be seen again. Just kidding. I promise I’ll send them out once each before retiring them.

I used to have such passion for getting published, but 10 books was enough for me when I never gain respect, admiration nor money. Now I shrug. Why bother? They’ll never let me in. Their doors that shut in my face the day in the early 90s when I came out as queer have only thrown more locks on since.

It makes me realize the joy is in the writing. In creation. Not in the reception.

On the painting side, though, super fun. I’ve been doing a series of paintings of non-binary folks with only oil sticks and fingers (in gloves), going fast, doing a “draft” a day, coming back to do most finishing work the next day while also doing a new canvas at the same ramped-up speed. Really enjoying it, though it’s slid since I had a concussion earlier this week. Now I have to sit like a potato; I’m surely not supposed to be on screens. Anyhow, I’m not allowed to use brushes. Instead, I have to cope with the limits of the oil sticks and my fingers. (No, this is not a rule in painting, in any way, but I set exercises for myself just to keep things interesting.) The down side has been being back in the world of big $ for supplies, which come from a US source with Cdn exchange and customs.

Anyway, I love the work that’s coming out. I’ve been painting over old paintings that were in the studio waiting for me to scream and slice them apart or something. This is better. Gesso and away we go again. Mostly the underlayers are acrylic.

Still Mulling Over Trauma

painting by Eaton Hamilton 12×16″ oil stick and fingerpainting on canvas on board

Peculiar week where nothing went as planned. Had a freaky meltdown using zoom. Always knew I couldn’t manage it but had no insight as to why (obviously, autism, but when it was first around I imagined it would be a wet dream, and it was the opposite, and I had to stop. I still wanted the contact, and the reading or workshop or whatever I was on there for, but I couldn’t handle it so quit zoom altogether). I’ve talked about it a little and it’s actually quite common. We’re not good with phones as a population, and we’re not great with zoom either.

As for painting, yum, going great, but oils are so *wet.* Using a lot of RF oil sticks this week because I ran out of a lot of colours, and those of course require whacks of driers resulting in an instant headache. My Corsi-Rosenthal filter is helping with this a lot, thank goodness. I’m using only oil sticks and fingerpaints, and anyone who knows this media knows they’re as good for fine detail work as, I dunno, socks? Still, I’m learning to control them, in part by painting bigger (covering old work I never finished). The two brands I really love, RF and private ones I have made, are sooooo sexy and buttery, but the driers for the former exhaust me. The sexiness reminds me of Kroma tube paints (Granville Island, Vancouver); it’s like lubing up a canvas, I swear.

Writing, well… I seem to keep running away from the difficulty of it. I know I have many, many pragmatic and urgent things to do and ordinarily that would keep me head down, writing, right? (The way the urgency of having to clean behind your fridge with a toothbrush only arises on a writing deadline.) I am procrastinating, and it’s the thing I despise most about myself. It gives me days and weeks and months of agony for utterly no reason at all.

Have a good one, wherever you are. Mask up, keep your kids safe(r) in their schools. Promote ventilation to every business you use.

Trauma Keeps On Giving

painting by Eaton Hamilton, 16″x 20″, oil sticks on canvas, “The Impasse” 2022

I doubt anyone writing a childhood memoir is not writing, at least peripherally, about some kind of trauma. We have to, after all, have an issue at the center of our self-inquiries. Of course that may be an illness, an unusual death, or any number of other topics, but childhood memoirs are often quite focused on troubling events from the past, and, sometimes, how those reach out to affect your current life.

Certainly mine is such. I can’t even, people advise, tell the complete story, for it is, they say, too awful to read. This infuriates me. Reading it is, to living through it, as a puddle to an ocean. However, nevertheless, I’m constricting it. Jury’s still out on my third attempt to land at a workable first draft. I’ve just edited and printed the first 100 or so pages, so I’ll see how they read, whether I’m getting anywhere at all or just making things worse.

Probably I won’t read it. Probably I’ll just use my headstrong energy to go ahead and make more mistakes I’ll need to repair.

Read this by Beth Macy, from Lit Hub.

Writing is so much fun,

painting by Eaton Hamilton, 2021, acrylic on acrylic paper

…except when it’s not. But when it’s going well, oh my, oh my, those days or moments are worth their weight in lightbulbs. Talk about illuminating your way forward.

How’s your writing going? It’s a terrifically hard month to write because of all the distractions and interruptions. I manage less well in August than any other month. My garden, though, even at its worst, is a paradise of calm, a true oasis of scented beauty, and this is what this month has been for me creatively this year, as well (yes, despite the gruesome news cycles including the attack on author Salmon Rushdie. May he live on), calm inside the storm. You know what that’s like, right? The way forward announces itself to you and off you go, chasing it like the rainbow it is.

Good luck to you in August, creators. I love how the days stretch and morph. Don’t forget to smell the martini as you drift by.

Hard to be enthusiastic at the mo…

painting by Eaton Hamilton 2022

Hard to be enthusiastic these days. No matter how hard I push to keep up, I seem to fall farther and farther behind. I haven’t snapped back from June surgery the way I should have yet. I’m dragging myself from event to event, and because I haven’t felt this much fatigue in a good while, I’m going to go out on a limb and call this a flare. In any case, nothing personally catastrophic is happening in my life so I’m going with that! Very concerned about the general conditions in the world (is this the beginning of dystopia? Is Cdn healthcare going to be gone in six months, once mpx hits hospitals hard? Is war going to ever stop? Where are the vaccines? Anne Heche! Etc etc. I find myself thinking about the kiddos from Uvalde, both the victims and the survivors, a fair deal). What are we doing to ourselves? What are we doing to our world/our globe?

As for writing, it’s going well. I finally had my book printed the other day (I thought I’d changed the font size but I had not, so it’s all printed in 18 pt, what a waste of paper) so that in case the web goes down permanently, I have a copy of sorts (of sorts). I made a chart of what’s happening in each chunk so I can keep track. I’m beginning to “read” it though I’ve never been good at reading my own work. I work on it as I go instead. Not very far into it yet.

Meantime, the enormous project of getting some artwork on paper ready for my new website has concluded! Hurrah! Now to build the site!

Not at all looking forward to this week. It has some challenging pieces to it.

Hope your week is looking fabulous. Have a good one!

Hello from Sunday!

Eaton Hamilton: After Modi, acrylic

What do I have to say for myself this week? I last saw humans Tues when the family (daughter and kiddos) dropped by to give me berries and peas from the market. Otherwise, I have been head down, working hard, and sometimes fighting sickness. (Was quite ill at points, unknown cause.)

Every boiling day I’ve been managing to get a snippet of gardening down. Can’t ignore watering during heat waves, alas, and that’s my least favourite thing to have to keep up with every day. Otherwise, it’s time for the Shirley poppies to go. I’ve been waiting for them to go to seed first. Now the seed’s collected and away their brittle brown corpses can go, down the hillside. I’ve lost the young man who did an astonishing good job cutting my grass (to a job!), so I’m trying to at least weed-eat the dandelions before they seed, though the battery isn’t properly charging so this is tedious. Otherwise working on the already seeded weeds. How did I let them get this bad? A question I ask every summer.

Since I don’t go to the nurseries (covid, inaccessibility), I don’t have my usual filler annuals. It is already looking very brown out there and once it’s clean, I imagine that will be far worse. I’m trying to be chill about it.

I’m controlling the heat in here by keeping curtains drawn most of the day and then, when they’re open placing fan in front of open door facing house, with bowl of ice, to cool the place in the evening. The heat spell is said to be about to break. I’ll be glad.

Have barely painted, and I just don’t know what to say about the mess I’m making of this memoir, so I won’t say anything. Working hard when I can on getting images of paintings sorted, named, measured and web-res’d to go up on my new painting site.

Hope your weeks as summer ends are good ones, with satisfying connections and summer play. Tonight I’m taking the girls to see (swim in possibly) phosphorescence (masked in my Flo Mask, of course)!

These days, while I’m moving…

pastel by Eaton Hamilton

…and have a lot of medical appts to wade through, it never happens that I can clear my schedule for a week. It seems baggy and luxurious, like an emotional space I can fit into for once.

Moving has never really been as bad as now, since if you don’t find a place before you to have leave, there’s literally nowhere to go. Not for the wealthy, I know, but for we serfs.

So, I had a week where I could cancel a couple last things and just feel the space around me. I motored through a partial draft of my memoir having no idea if I was hitting the right direction or losing it even more entirely than I had in the draft where that was allowed. I’d laugh except the daunting task of reading this one-third book has not happened yet. I dread finding out it doesn’t work, again.

What are you writing this week? Are you getting through in a project that’s been giving you pain? Any successes to report?

Have a good week if you can with all the worry.

I Hate to Report…

painting: Eaton Hamilton 2021

…that I am no further along in unlocking the mystery (infrastructure) of this memoir than I was seven days ago, and not for lack of trying. It’s me that’s my impediment. I would give a lot, some days, to be a different writer with different skills, though then I’d likely pine for my original skills, right?

How are all y’all doing? It’s difficult with BA.5 on the romp, I know, since it’s our most infectious variant yet, and transmissible even outside–and how we want to be maskless outdoors! I suspect everything will worsen until governments realize the “let ‘er rip” plan is ruining lives, creating mass disability, wrecking the economy from record numbers of days-of-work lost, and put back in effective measures and education programs. We must protect ourselves from dirty air just the way we protect our water. We must get serious about cleaning our air!

Hope you manage to have safe and good weeks, folks.

Autism for authors

painting by Eaton Hamilton 2021; yt woman in rocker, resting head on hand

I’m hard into composition this week, trying to crack open a roadmap to the memoir, here at the (perpetual?) start to draft 3, which is really going to be the third-go at a draft 1. Once I get that infrastructure and feel it’s working, I think I’ll feel released, but I’m not there yet. I was reading this morning about research that confirms that autistic brains are 42% more active than NT brains, and this doesn’t surprise me. But how to capitalize this extra brain power to create a work that is readable, compelling and fresh?

Are you an autistic writer? How does this work for your brain? I find I’m all about complicating things unnecessarily, because the *entire* story must be told. Which isn’t what a book needs, of course.

Is it Summer Yet?

Eaton Hamilton, After Matisse, 2020, acrylic on acrylic paper

It’s not summer here yet. We had a few nice days, even a 3-day “heat wave” I barely noticed, but today was just as chilly and rainy as winter. Good thing, though, really. I might have had to resort to watering for the first time. The maple trees are down with powdery mildew. The roses toss in their yearly extravaganza. The clematis beam their flat-petalled joy. The delphs are stunning, rising in their blue and purple spires.

The stories re: Roe v Wade are dunning. This sadistic ruling by the so-called Supremes in the US will push us toward fascism faster than any other single decision. Already a child has been refused an abortion following rape (any sex with a child is rape) and forced into another state. States are planning to let ectopic pregnancies or incomplete pregnancies end in death. It’s becoming illegal to cross state lines. Bounty hunters are being let loose.

They’ve wrecked themselves, of course.

I had a hard lesson to learn this week about ethics, or the lack thereof.

And day surgery, from which I am trying to recover.

My hope for you this week is that you grab rays of hope wherever you can.

A hard Roe to hoe…

Three Women by Eaton Hamilton, 2021, acrylic on paper

How could this week be about anything but the erasure of of half the US population’s bodily autonomy, and how the populace is angry, rattled and terrified for their own and others’ futures, including their children’s?

I’ve been around long enough that I was a teen before restrictions on abortions began to ease in Canada, replaced by a Draconian system where someone had to petition three (white male) doctors and say they’d kill themselves, and then their “case” would go before a hospital board. Needless to say, all these stalling tactics often meant second trimester abortions, through no delay on the pregnant person’s part. Later, Canada repealed this dangerous nonsense, and we now have no law at all. Abortion is provided piecemeal by hospital boards–or often not. In my opinion, our right to it needs to be codified by legislation and enshrined by our Supreme Court. The legislature could ask questions of the court to make this happen.

Canada too has taken and is taking a frightening turn to fascism. We need to be alert and wary and start fighting back–hard–against misinformation and lies propagated by the right. People are, as we’ve seen during the pandemic, repulsively swayable toward doing to wrong thing.

This week we writers are sharpening our pens so they can do double-duty as alphabet-daggers. I send heartfelt warmth and wishes for safety to the USians dealing with this appalling situation. It’s a little like sending throughts and prayers after a school shooting–useless–but so it’s on the record: I will always support your fight for justice.

Diversity in authors and subject matter

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2020; woman in wheelchair

I knew diverse representation in publishing was bad, but I didn’t understand quite how bad it really was until authors divulged their advances on twitter’s #whatpublishingpaidme thread a couple years back. Even to me, who absolutely expected evidence of racism, homphobia, transphobia and ableism, it was a shock how publishing advances often had nothing to do with prior publishing success and a whole lot more to do with whether or not the author was white, able-bodied, straight and cis, and, often (still), male.

The red carpet rolls out for those folks, and not so much for the rest of us. I do maintain that most agents and publishers give lip service to wanting diverse books and authors, but in actuality they really only want to want them. They used to tell us that our stories were overloaded by the addition of queer characters and they’d suggest the protagonists be straight so as not to distract from the storyline, but now they say there’s just not an audience. What they really mean by that is that they’re not willing to give a good advance to work they’re not personally interested in, nor go to the trouble and expense of finding the book’s enthusiastic market.

I’m sick of it. It’s lasted all my literary career. All of it, over 35 years of it. You don’t know my books because of this discrimination, and that is true for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of other artists as well.

If you build it, to quote WP Kinsella, they will come.

Here’s The Guardian discussing diversity in publishing lately:
Changing the narrative on disability: is representation in books getting better? by Lucy Webster

and here they are, recently, discussing senstivity readers:

Stop moaning about sensitivity readers – if there was diversity in publishing we wouldn’t need them, by Juno Dawson

George Bernard Shaw

…didn’t enjoy people and had a writing hut to which he could escape. Lots of writers do. But the special thing about his is that it was on a Lazy Susan, which rotated? Too much sun? Rotate. Too much shade? Rotate. “London,” he called it, so that when someone telephoned, they could be told that Mr Shaw was in London.

Scrivener

Scrivener system software

Who uses this program? Who values it?

I use it and I value it, though even after years, I don’t understand it completely nor use it efficiently. I do love it, though, for the ease of bringing up alternate versions of the ms I’m working on, or other chapters, or research notes. Toggling through is intuitive in a way that Word just isn’t.

I’ve never used it to organize a poetry collection, but I think it would be useful. What do you think? Have you ever tried it for poetry?

What do you use it for?

We need to talk about Texas

Thoughts and prayers do nothing

I am not a fan of author Lionel Shriver’s grim and condescending attitude toward other writers, whom she dismisses for their concerns about appropriation, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend her masterpiece “We Need to Talk About Kevin” a novel told from the multiple perspectives of the family of a school murderer as the go-to read for understanding mass murder. (There was a movie, but it was ghastly.)

I was touched by the President and First Lady visiting the makeshift monument set up in Uvalde. I thought about what it would have been like if the person in charge had been the former guy, instead. Well, we know, don’t we, from the NRA convention this week where he appeared, saying nothing at all about the 19 kids who died, the teachers who were slaughtered, the many, many injured people (38 were shot), or the vast problem of gun ownership and the second amendment in the USA.

I don’t live in the US, but I used to. Did you know there’s no other country in the world that lets these kind of mass murders transpire? “The USA has had 2,032 school shootings since 1970.” Just by way of example, Canada has had two. Do I feel smug, safe, superior? Not at all, because we see mass murders here too, and conservative govts uniquely try to curtail gun restrictions in Canada. But, but … no right to bear arms exists, thank gawd.

I mourn the people killed in Buffalo, near where I grew up. I mourn the people killed in Uvalde. My heart goes out to loved ones. The revolting, cowardly (and racist?) behaviour of the police in Uvalde will never stop hurting. What parent can’t imagine themselves being harassed, tazed, handcuffed and prevented from trying to save your child?

Here are their names. Honour our babies. Say them aloud.

The victims:

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Layla Salazar, 11

Maranda Mathis, 11

Nevaeh Bravo, 10

Jose Manuel Flores, Jr, 10

Xavier Lopez, 10

Tess Marie Mata, 10

Rojelio Torres, 10

Eliahna Amyah Garcia, 9

Eliahna A Torres, 10

Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10

Jackie Cazares, 9

Uziyah Garcia

Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10

Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, 10

Alithia Ramirez, 10

Irma Garcia, 48

Eva Mireles, 44

In the Green Sublime

My Garden with Poppies 2020; photo: Eaton Hamilton

What Do Writing a Novel and Tending a Garden Have In Common? by Naheed Phiroze Patel

at LitHub.

I can’t think of a better metaphor for writing than gardening. All the work one has to do outside–cleaning the debris from last year, tilling the soil, planting, waiting for germination, waiting for plants to grow and bloom/produce. Every year, if we have them, we side-eye our gardens thinking about what can be done better next time. What should be moved, and where? Editing, editing, editing.

We’re never truly satisfied, and so it is with our books as we coddle them through draft after draft, nudging them closer to fruition.


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