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.

It’s been a great writing week; how about you?

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2021; middle-aged Gertrude Stein

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but halfway through my memoir writing time, I decided to punt the book and start over. Something had been niggling at me for months, and that something was suggesting it wasn’t working. It finally barrelled to the front of my brain and I began over. I frequently do this with books, which is why I’ve written 3x more than I’ve tried to have published. I already have 10K words done. This week could be a washout, though, due to other challenges.

I hope your holidays were good ones. I don’t really celebrate Christmas, but this year is snowy and desperately cold and I’m certainly watching the weather, at least and hoping the power doesn’t go out. The wind just came up, one of the forecast gusts, I guess. Most of my time seems to be used bringing in hummingbird feeders to blow-dry them into thaw before setting them back out. The hummers–must be 20-30, all squabbling–are desperate.

As always you can follow daily paintings on IG at hamiltonart1000 and also join my Patreon for weekly chats on writing and painting (Hamilton Art)!

The New Outliers

please be in touch if this is your work

Lee Gutkind on the road to creative nonfiction at LitHub.

I would have liked to see this essay acknowledge the democratization of literature with the advent of the internet. Marginalized voices were, sometimes for the first time, able to add their voices to literature’s mix. We began to see lit from disabled, queer, trans, non-binary, autistic and biwoc folks. (I hate the word “confessional” applied to lit, as it transfers a sense of blame to authors for abuse, illness and so on. Most of the things that have gone awry for us are not our fault.)

Did you know that in order to get published, I had to enter and win literary contests? It was the only way I could get my pieces noticed, the only time my work was judged on merit rather than name and identity.

The holidays

painting: Eaton Hamilton 2018

We are swiftly approaching the shortest day of the year, but, today, everything where I live feels springlike and I feel that awkward-in-December urge to get out and start spring cleanup. Summer roses near the warmth of the house are still blooming. The hummingbirds asked for a change of nectar (they come hover in front of my face when they need my services), which I provided. They are feeling gay and glorious and I think their instincts may be turning them toward nest-building. We’ll see. I hope they hold off. I hope I do.

I had one of those burning bush moments last night, an epiphany about the structure of my work-in-progress. These work epiphanies are double-sided: fabulous because hello, solution; difficult because it means a ton of work ahead, right? I got out of bed to go retrieve my computer and set things up on Scrivener so I’d have a scaffolding to follow in the morning if the idea held water.

It held water.

Finding structure to help


Aimee Bender, author of “The Butterfly Lampshade,” in a talk with Jordan Kisner on Thresholds at Lit Hub, on how creating a structure for your project can really help. Think of this as infrastructure for which you must create walls, insulation, electrical, plumbing before any of it will really be pulled together.

This week

Painting: Eaton Hamilton 2021 (appeared at Guernica)

This week BC had catastrophic rains following just on the heels of another catastrophic fire season and heat dome. Things are in a bad way, with thousands upon thousands of animals dead, a state of emergency declared, and many roadways and highways washed out amidst flooding and washouts. Wishing everyone the very best with this new challenge. I’m sorry for your losses and your sorrows. Help victims here:

Times Colonist info

This week, too, of course, was the XX acquittal in the US. I can’t say the murderer’s name, but you know who I mean. I ached for the families in the courtroom as the verdicts were delivered and just as much for what this means for the safety of social justice workers and racial minorities protesting on US streets. As always, you can donate to the ACLU, who work to keep you safe.

The good news is that we now have vaccines for 5-11 year olds in Canada. This is a relief. Despite my own vax status (x2), I have medical problems that mean I need to avoid the people I most want in my life, but when they’re flu and covid vaxxed, I’ll be able to resume our relationships.

On the creative side of things, I continue to show visual art daily on Instagram at hamiltonart1000! I hope you’ll visit and drop me a line; if you fall in love with a painting, do inquire about its availability! You can also support me on Patreon at Hamilton Art.

In the writing world, it’s award-season and I’d like to congratulate all the long-listed and short-listed authors, and the winners (!), and urge readers to remember those who weren’t on the lists–their books are still terrific! Me, I’m working on difficult essays and those remain difficult to find forms to fit them. Still, I work on them every day. I’m working, in particular, on an essay about homelessness and another about autism.

I hope you are doing okay. I find it harder to be doing okay the longer the pandemic lasts. Many gov’ts, including BCs, seem to have decided not to battle hard against covid any longer, declaring it as a preventable illness (say what now?) and endemic. Good luck to you navigating through your week. I wish you all the best.

Another cold and rainy November

We Can at Least Pretend It’s Summer/painting: Eaton Hamilton

I’ve been thinking a lot about moving somewhere warm. Who wants to come? The south of France, Portugal, Costa Rica?

I’m sick to tears of bad weather, I have to say, and these days I’m on total lockdown and finding it incredibly challenging to be back here (still, again, I don’t know)? It feels futile and forever, but my medical situation is such that I am stuck with solitude. The BC gov’t is not going to do its job and lock the province down, even with about 3500 new cases a week, so the disabled among us have to do it for themselves. I had a brief flurry of opening up two weeks after my second vax mid-July, but the Delta situation was worsening around us even then. I did go swimming and to the supermarket. I was called on to leave the island several times for car repairs and medical tests. I did see my grandkids, the dearest people in my world.

But on Thanksgiving, in early October, my two kids came over because I’d had a medical emergency. It was the first time I’d seen my younger child for 2.5 years. I kept two masks on the entire time (all weekend long, only lifting them to eat and sleep, door firmly closed) and it was no kind of feast, given we ate far away from each other and at staggered times for safety’s sake. Two days later, we discovered the littles had played indoors the day before with two covid positive kids, maskless, for three hours. Having that health emergency on top of my personal one capsized me. We waited anxiously for the results of covid tests, which were, when they came, astonishingly negative. We dodged bullets there, but I’m not keen on taking more chances.

I miss those grandkids something fierce. We can’t really seem to connect via FT as something’s always chasing us offline. I’d visit outside keeping masked and distanced, but so far, the weather has disagreed with that plan.

Back to dreams of moving. Do you imagine living in your dream location?

I’m supposed to be working today on my essay collection, but it’s one of those days where all the words are wrong, bland, without a pulse. You know those times? How is it going for you?

Why do you write?

painting by Eaton Hamilton 2021

Someone on FB asked why we write. I had a dream where the horses from my childhood were starving. The food I found ran out but there was still a filly to feed, and I found her a plastic pen. I was worried that the plastic would shatter in her throat.

She’s how I would talk about writing. She was starving and the pen could save her–but it also came with splinters.

I’ve Been Off…

Geez, sometimes life is just too hard. I’ve been away from social media for the most part dealing with a couple of personal crises, and while I might be here bodily again, my brain is still offline, unable to fully function. I can’t do anything with it that needs the slightest bit of concentration. Well, no, that’s not true. I can drive or cook, and I can watch TV, but anything that contains a true challenge–working–is out of the question. While I’m waiting for the brain’s capacities to come back online, I’m trying to dab my brush at some small paintings.

What do you do when you’re in this state?

Memoir Monday features ‘Benzo Mama’

Mother and Child: Eaton Hamilton

Memoir Monday‘s weekly newsletter and a quarterly reading series, brought to you by NarrativelyThe RumpusCatapultGrantaGuernica, and Literary Hub. Each personal essay in this newsletter has been selected by the editors at the above publications as the best of the week, delivered to you all in one place. 


Benzo Mama’ up at Guernica today!

Thrilled that Guernica has published my essay “Benzo Mama.” (TW for abuse)

You can find it here, with my artwork.

The New Mother by Eaton Hamilton, 11″x14″ acrylic on paper

Best American Essays 2021 Notable!

A page from the 2021 Best American Essays Notables, with my deadname

Well, well, well. I came home from my kid’s house tonight to the news on twitter that my essay “The Dead Green Man,” which won Event Magazine’s cnf contest last year, is a Notable in this year’s Best American Essays, ed Kathryn Schulz. Thank you to Robert Atwan, series editor, who is the magician who makes these things happen (or so I assume)!

I should mention that this essay doesn’t appear online, so to get a copy you’d need to contact Event Magazine in BC, Canada.

I didn’t imagine this essay had a chance of being a Notable, because it’s an essay looking at guns from a Canadian’s perspective, which I thought would read as pretty naive from the US experience.

After I heard the news, I ate a late dinner I’d cooked earlier and rubbed spicy bbq sauce in my eye. Thank you very much, life, for keeping me waaaaaaay humble.

[As a point of interest for those curious, it’s really, *really* hard to see this with my deadname.]

The Drowned Boy

My essay “The Drowned Boy” is now up on Medium. It’s about a boy who drowned in my family’s pond and about the time I was declared drowned in the same pond. I’m proud to have finally written this essay; it’s not easy or happy, but the boy and his death has been a lifelong obsession for me.

Today I was at the lake by my house where a teenaged boy drowned last week. All love and condolence to the boy’s family and friends. It is odd that I was writing this essay as this event transpired.

Arsenal Pulp Disability Pride Month

Which small press publishes plenty of titles that concern disability? Well, Arsenal Pulp Press in Vancouver, of course!

Still 25% off for July, including my novel “Weekend!”

Disability Pride Month at Arsenal

Dr Ramani

Dr Ramani Durvasula

I’m a fan of Dr Ramani, who speaks to the world on a You Tube channel about narcissism. She has many videos to check out. We all have to deal with a lot of narcissism in our lifetimes–in CEOs, in politicians, in lovers, in family members.

Is narcissism an illness?

Happy 90th birthday, Alice Munro!


LARB photograph

Yes, it is! But it seems to be breaking in the PNW, thank gawd. I hope everyone is managing okay.

Happy to say that my shortlisted essay from the Malahat Open Season Awards came out today at Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), sheparded by Gina Frangello. Hope you enjoy it!

Let me know what you think!


Mid-June and it’s lovely here

art by Hamilton

This week, I did some preliminary work toward registering my legal name change to Eaton Hamilton. The lovely folks at Rise Marketing changed the name of this blog for me (thank you, thank you). I changed my driver’s license and BC Medical, along with my Services BC card and a credit card. I ordered a birth certificate because some places need two pieces of ID (I thought my license would be one of them). It’s obviously going to be an expensive, drawn-out process with many complications along the way, but in any case, I’m happy it’s underway.

Hopefully, my many publishers will take note and in any instances where possible, change over my short work or books (when new eds come out, say). That would be appreciated.

Some of you may know I’m writing a book of poetry these days, alongside a memoir-in-essays. I’m one of the strange creatures who has to work on multiple projects at a time (I direct sustained focus as needed). I’ve been trying to write an essay this week, but I’m running into creative roadblocks. By that I mean stylistic problems I haven’t been able to resolve. I’m not sure if they stem from content concerns or something else, but my voice has abandoned me. Does that happen to you, that you lose your voice? When I sit down with an intention toward a work, and yet it doesn’t come, I swear it feels like my mouth is falling open and closed without sound, like every time I’ve ever been silenced by another person.

Wish me luck. I still need to write it!

How are you doing these days? Me, I’m bloody nervous about BC opening when people only have their first dose of vaccine and the Delta variant is taking root. I’m a fan of zero covid and I hate the government taking such risks with our lives. Me, I’m staying home as much as is possible; not the summer of seeing friends and family. Not for me, anyhow.

Vaccine fall-out

Image: Eaton Hamilton, cherry blossom

I’m one of the hopefully-few unlucky people who got severe side effects from the Moderna first dose vaccine, so May has passed in a painful blur, mostly up and down from bed, as the weird side effects bounced around my body. Meantime, without me, the garden has catapulted itself into an unruly mess and I have no hope of ever catching it. Still, I love it. I love it unreservedly. Every day it’s nice enough, I pour myself into a plastic chair, feet up on the rock wall of the perennial beds, and spend a few moments in heaven. It took me years and years to learn to enjoy such beauty without having someone beside me, but I’m so glad I’m finally there. One of the beautiful things to admire after all, is me.

I have so many talents and a good number of skills, built over decades. I know I parented my children in a much kinder way than I was parented. I know I’ll leave the world better for having been there, without a sliver of doubt. I’ll leave fine literature and good painting behind me too and superlative memories in my grandchildren’s heads.

Right now I’m writing both a poetry book and a memoir-in-essays (along with painting. Follow along at IG: hamiltonart1000). Though there are still mysteries of memory for me, for the most part all the vast number of pieces for the puzzle of me are in place, and I’m inspired to write about them. An ideal place to be.

Today I finished a complicated poem about time I spent in the covid ward last year.

I’ve been reading Gina Frangello’s “Blow Your House Down” this week, for me at a rocket pace. It’s about a mother who explodes her home life by having an affair. It’s a wonderful book and I recommend it. More here, I hope, when I’ve finished it.

A couple of weeks ago, following her death, I read Shanna Mahin’s “Oh! You Pretty Things,” which I’ll probably find in my TBR piles at some point, too. Shanna’s book would have been a slice of heaven had she managed to crowbar in a plot to hang it on.

That’s all from here on this spectacular day. While I’m not okay today physically, I’m better than I’ve been since I got the vaccine. That’s something to celebrate as I was in bad shape earlier this week. I hope your lives are going okay for you. I watch all the opening up with suspicion, I admit, wishing as always that my country had gone for zero covid. We still could, but we are stubborn as hell and won’t. We won’t even have a referendum about it.

Will I get my second vaccine? You bet your bippy. To protect other people and with the hope the side effects won’t last forever.


Image: Eaton Hamilton, hyacinth

I think I half-hate NaPoWriMo, where we write a poem a day for the month of April, because it makes me wish the month over. Where I live, April became a love song to gardens, with sunshine and summery temps all month, just vacating now. I’ve gone easier on myself this month, just tried to keep up, which isn’t so much of a demand. Remarkably I’ve only had one bad day that needed 14 bloody hours to get a crude draft out.

I paint every day, too, and you can follow a bit of that on IG. IG is not a very talkative media space, however. I have many things I’d say all through every day if I could just jot a quick note. Am I asking for twitter? Nah, *not* twitter. Twitter for politics, and halt. FB for politics, friends, writing and venting. IG for art. That’s how it shakes down for me.

For painting and writing, you can also join me on Patreon, where I exist as Hamilton Art.

I’ve just– Well, I was going to say I’ve just finished an essay, but the truth is I haven’t gotten to the end of the first draft yet. I’ve been writing essays back many weeks now, but this is the first one that’s close to the finish line, which is relieving. You can sometimes feel you just don’t know how to make it happen any longer. This is all for the lovely and fraught project of a memoir-in-essays. Stay tuned.

What’s happening in your life?

I’m waiting for my first vaccine shot a week from now and my g-baby’s 5th birthday. I’m a political animal, so I also keep up with the news and wonder how much anguish one heart can sustain. All our hearts are battered after this last year, weary and saddened and heavy with grief and survivors’ guilt.

With all my heart, I wish you and your loved ones well. I wish you safety.

Patreon secrets

A few gifts for my patrons on Patreon

I’m telling all my secrets on Patreon. Do you remember LiveJournal? Like that. Come join me there at Hamilton Art, or see my art on IG under hamilton1000.

I’ll save this space for writing.

The novel DEAD BIRDS is done what I think might have been draft 8134, and needless to say, this pleases me. I started this book in 2012. It really is a cool story.

I’m starting to pull apart my memoir-in-essays and this is thrilling, scary, unnerving. Somehow I have to turn my essays into a cohesive, linear whole without any of the essays losing their strengths. I can’t tell something in one essay that happens again in another. Or can I? Much to puzzle over, but meantime I’m writing new essays as I feel able. The book may end up being two books.

I’m also dong NaPoWriMo this month to go along with a series of poems I’ve been working on lately mostly about contemporary life. I suspect a lot of persona poems to come.

What about you? What are you doing as our hemisphere turns its yellow and pink head toward spring?

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