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.

Tag: Eaton Hamilton

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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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.


Memoir–how much truth is the truth?

Salvadore Dali: The Persistence of Memory

Every reader contemplates this; every memoir writer agonizes about this. We understand the research on how flawed memories can be, and we have to balance this out with our worry about accurate representation. We want it. We go hunting for it. We put ourselves into trances, or pick up writing exercises to prod what’s stuck in our grey matter so that it burbles again to the surface.

Is what we say accurate? If we’re twenty years from the events? If we’re fifty years from the events? More? We surely hope so. Even if the other people in the scene are dead, we hope and pray we are not distorting events as we recall them.

Recently on twitter, a thread appeared where (mostly) readers discussed just this, and their consensus seemed to be that memoirists could never reproduce dialogue accurately and should therefore leave it out.

I don’t concur. Those who’ve read my memoir “No More Hurt” can see that I want to take the reader into my experience as I lived in. How else to impart the true flavour? In my case, as an autistic person, I have an excellent memory for dialogue–it’s one of those things that sticks. Yet I’m sure people would argue that some of the dialogue isn’t accurate, because I still took what resonated with me and others took what resonated with them away and store it into memory. Picking and choosing illuminating bits even in the moment.

Sometimes writers include notes about what they’ve done in regards to these matters, and one of these I’ve recently seen is writer Maryann Aita’s frontispiece to “Little Astronaut: A Memoir in Essays,” shared with her permission.

A Note on Truth, by Maryann Aita

“Most names in this book have been changed, and some identifying details adjusted to protect people’s privacy as much as I can without losing story. Dialogue, dates, and the narrative arc of events in my life may not be precise because I am not a computer. These are pieced together from my memories, which may be different than the memories of my family members. But memory is all we have to build the foundation of ourselves; it is possible for multiple truths to exist at once. I’ve done my best to capture my emotional truth, which may mean I remember rain on a sunny day. A weather report could prove me wrong, but if I was crying, isn’t it still a kind of truth?

“Since writing this book, I’ve learned my sister remembers being diagnosed with anorexia at 13. She also told me she was probably restricting her eating before then. I, however, remember learning about it when I was eight, and she was 15. Memory is deeply fallible. My memory is probably inaccurate. Her memory could be as well. Every time we recall something, even in our own minds, it changes. The facts of memory are not equivalent to truth. I’ve decided to keep these details as I remember because they are my truth.”

 

Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat Safely Down the Stream?

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2022, acrylic on acrylic paper

People will know me as half American in my heart, since I was once a permanent resident there, and that’s where I went to university and learned about literature. Watching the Supreme Court steal rights from half the population in the leaked draft decision overturning Roe, and reading their appalling and ludicrous basis for the decision (citing a dude who burned witches at the stake? saying we owe the country an increase in adoptable babies?) has been soul-crushing, and while I am worried and anxious about climate change, about the war and its deathly abuses, about violence against women and children, about justice, about transphobia and homophobia, about ableism, about racism, about the young people and children of today who need to be able to find homes, I am freaked the eff out about what’s happening. Yes, I can trace the white bread crumbs back to the seventies and see the GOP’s long-game, and I know the GOP is where grown-up bullies go to toy with new victims, but even so the sadism of this surprises me.

I grew up during the times of back alley abortions, which thankfully had mostly vanished by the time I was a late teen. Still, even then, abortion was only legal if the health of the mother was threatened, which wasn’t good enough. Three doctors (white men) had to agree and then the matter went before a hospital board.

And nor do I think Canada’s position on abortion, modernized since then so that we have no law at all, is by any means secure. It only allowed the right-wing to take over hospital boards, who rule access, and remove it where they can. Even while abortion remains legal, access continually dwindles and the threat of violence against people seeking procedures remains heightened.

We live in perilous times. But I always stop to remember that if you are Indigenous or Black or Latinx or Asian you have always lived in perilous times. Maternal deaths from childbirth in Black communities are high. In Canada, on the regular and in current times, Indigenous babies are ripped from parental arms for no reason beyond racism.

That supply of adoptable babies, again.

So, yes, I have been writing, and, yes, I have been painting, and, yes, I have been spring cleaning, but more I’ve been staving off depression because I cannot bear what’s happening.

I hope you’re doing a fair sight better than I am.

Phew, that’s finished…

artwork by Eaton Hamilton 2020

Pretty astonishing to get a first final draft of my 2011 novel done this week! That makes eleven years on this one, though indeed most of that time was not spent on much beyond ignoring it. It did go through 7 or 8 drafts to get here. Wooee! I really enjoyed the process this week, though the hours were grueling and my life fell to wrack and ruin while I engaged with it. Now it’s time to do all.the.things, like work on query letter, synopsis, chapter synopsis, and getting blurbs, maybe. Seeing about hiring an agent. It’s strange to me to be unagented since I almost always have an agent, which does make the submission process possible.

Anyone craving a psychological thriller with a queer disabled ornithologist as protagonist?

I keep thinking of all the populations hungry for TV, movies, and books with disability, infertility and IPV rolled up into one. Publishers always say, “Oh, we just don’t have a market for this.” But that’s only because they prefer not to develop the audience for whatever reasons. $, homophobia they don’t understand they have, ableism they are ignorant to, etc.

It’s time for us to shine, publishers. Let us. Help us.

CNF–dialogue, or no?

There’s been a lot of chatter on twitter about whether it’s okay to include dialogue in cnf. Some people have great recall for dialogue, some perfect. I have better than usual, myself, because of my face blindness. Ask me 30 seconds after seeing someone what they looked like or what they were wearing, and I generally couldn’t tell you, but ask me what someone said? Yes, I have excellent recall. Speech contains a lot of unspoken language, too, or sub-text, ones the speaker may not even be aware they’re using. Dialogue develops character in ways no other convention does. In my opinion, memoirs will suffer if there isn’t dialogue that is faithful to the emotional truth of the original convo.

Here is the start of a twitter thread you can search to join the discussion:

It’s such a hard time in the world

painting: Eaton Hamilton 2022, 9×12″ acrylic on acrylic paper. For sale.

When I was a kid, I knew where the Easter bunny lived, beside our garage where there was a round grass circle in a clearning near some pine trees. I’d sit out there for what felt like hours Easter week, trying to trick her with my silence into appearing, hoping she’d feel safe and understand I only wanted to be her friend. I could almost see her in my mind’s eye. She was taller than I was, but not by a lot. She had pink pads on her strong feet. She wore a gay Easter bonnet.

Easter was a thrill when I was a kid because *chocolate.* We’d awaken to a garish basket with a solid chocolate bunny. We had to decide, for this sugary breakfast, whether we’d eat the rabbit’s ears first, or her nose, whether chocolate bunnies could still hear or smell if we did that. Eventually, days later, the rabbit would be eaten down to its legs and there would be just a solid mass of not-terrific chocolate left.

My mother, who was exceptionally bad at most things, was exceptionally good with holidays. When we were little, she roped string from room to room and floor to floor of our house and at each place, there’d be a couple tiny chocolate eggs. We’d roam from the attic to the basement and back up to one of the bedrooms. When we got a little older, she made riddles out of clues. I can’t remember what was at the end of the hunt–perhaps some of those teeny tiny pink, blue and yellow fluffy chicks?

I liked the colours of Easter after the sere winter. I kept up my mother’s rituals in a toned-down way when my girls were little, and their mother does the same now.

What about you? Do you feel left out by days off work for this holiday but not for yours? Or do you, like this atheist, feel a little lift because of the happy Easter colours? The days are lengthening and the garden never needs watering, and that makes me happy. I got my beds prepped early this year, and the peas in, but the rabbits have been eating the tips as they come up, making me realize I’ll need seedlings.

All cheer and good wishes from my house to yours.

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