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: writing

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.

Hello, everybody!

It’s sure chilly where I live in the PNW. The daffodils love it and extend their blooming, but I think all the humans are just ready for some warmth at last!

My life just got eclipsed by medical concerns last week, so if I was meant to get back to you and didn’t, that’s why. Scrambling to catch up. A lot is uncertain in my life just now so please send your good wishes my way.

Meantime, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to paint florals. Clearly not something I can pick up quickly. I admire the skills, but it will be a long time before I can join good artists at this. Still, I do feel the urge to celebrate the floral urgency outside.

I’ve been taking notes re: my memoir (aka current wip), but haven’t had a chance to sit down with it yet. How has writing been going for you? Today I was on zoom with the g-babies (7 and 5) practicing their writing, only my audio was out, and instead of helping them write a story they came up with, as planned, I had to make one up on the spot that they could copy. I know the older one, at least, was very proud of herself when she was done. The younger one just wanted to move on to art, where she feels most competent.

This week

drawing by: Eaton Hamilton

My kid had a birthday and took her children snowboarding for their first time–lucky ducks. They both loved it, and staying overnight at a hotel, too. The older child, 7, has fallen for independent reading in the worst way, doing exactly what both her mom and I did as kids, walking around with her book clutched in her hands, not willing to exit the story long enough to eat or interact.

I find that thrilling, I think because reading’s always been such a joy for me as well. “She reads a book a night,” her mom said, so I asked how she manages to keep up with the demand. “The library.”

Me, I’ve finished prepping the garden beds for spring thanks to a lovely sunny day yesterday, which thrills me except I’m so stiff I can no longer walk. So good to dig my hands into the loam. I swear I’m hungry for this by March, but the earth is usually too damned cold. Not this year where I live and love.

Next for power washing and a dump run and the outside will be in tip top shape. I moved my canvases from inside to the storage shed, where they’re set up with a dehumidifier. Glad that’s done. Next step is moving inside, where I will declutter, de-spider-web, and give the place a good going over. That should take some weeks.

Spring cleaning. Or should I say accounting avoidance?

I just got buzzed by a hummer telling me it’s time to change the nectar in the feeders–quite rightly. They know. So the new nectar is cooling in the measuring cup on the stove.

I have to create a grant application in the next couple weeks. I was trying to come up with a name for the new project and I realized I’d thought up a great title for a book a couple weeks ago and noted it down. I was wondering what the scope of the project should be–its defining scaffolding, if you will–and I went in search of that book title. There it was, not just the title, but as soon as I read the title again, the book itself announced itself, its range, tip to toe, where it begins and where it ends.

Also relieving.

I got a cheque for royalties for my old memoir, too. Good to know it’s still selling!

How are things down your way, here on the spring equinox, when days and nights are the same lengths? At least at this time of year we have the beautiful resurgence of spring. The first cherry blossoms here where I live are popping! They are perhaps my all-time favourite and most cheering sight.

I hope you see them where you are and I hope they give you hope and forebearance.

January holds twelve months

painting by Eaton Hamilton 2022

Anyone else feeling the pinch of the longest month of the year? God, it drags. Never sure I’m ready, though, for how life escalates after February until, by April, it feels like a race. Not sure it’s possible to get back the feeling of endless summers I had when I was a kid (“Mo-oo-om, what’s there to do?”).

But I appreciate all the garden changes–the buds, the bulbs shooting up, the snowdrops, the crocuses blooming. The idea of clean-up. Getting compost on the beds after being indoors all winter.

I’m not able to work efficiently at this time because of health issues keeping work at bay, but I’m able to work steadily, a little at a time, without taking any days off–what would I do with them? I’m in lockdown–and bits accrue, they do. Up to about 35,000 words in the memoir-in-progress now, looking to March as a possibility for finishing the first draft, leaving me a few months for hopefully making my way through two more drafts.

All very pie-in-the-sky hopes at the moment. But, dream big.

Dream with me, won’t you? Pick a dream and let’s dream it with me in Feb and March. I’ll dream that I’m somehow able to stay in my house another year and with that dream get a dependable car.

Hello, folks, from the middle of January

Eaton Hamilton 2021

We’ve had a nastiness of snow where I live and rotten temps that finally, in their last hurrah, killed all the hummingbirds. Or they went back to where they came from. Maybe the latter. I like to think the latter, since I only had 4 or 5 when the cold hit, and suddenly there were 20-30, what with my feeders. In any case, there are hummers here again, but not the juveniles. Haven’t seen them again. I am not sad that I don’t have to do the constant thaw and freeze, bring in, hair dryer, take out routine any longer.

January has been a bugger for covid. Governments are now routinely behaving badly–letting their populaces fend for themselves in a pandemic, figuring they’ll only deal with hospitalized patients when they have to (and maybe no one with pre-existing conditions? Yes, I’m outing you, hospital personnel, triaging out a constitutionally-protected group of people.) I rant about government lack on twitter, where you can follow this.

If it’s art you’re after, try @hamiltonart1000 on IG. Posting daily!

I’ve had a dear beloved down with covid the last couple weeks, and kiddos back at school without effective mitigation, and so many friends with covid I can’t count, and friends worried about their little ones. None of us will come through this psychologically unscathed, I don’t believe, even if we manage to miss getting long covid.

My writing is going okay. It’s the first time I’ve written a book without regulating my output (2000 words/day, 1000 words/day, poem a day etc). I thought it would be dangerous. I just write when I want to; what I’m finding is that if I can make myself start, and stick to it for about two hours, the rest will flow pretty easily and I can put in a good six hours or so before I conk out.

I hope you are managing out there in these tough times. I wish you the easing of your burdens.

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 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.

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. 

!!!

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.]

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.

Covid snags and other tidbits

Most of you know I’ve changed my name to align with my gender identity. (More about that here.) For several years, I concluded that it would simply be too hard to change my writing name to the name I now go by, which is Hamilton, but during lockdown the idea of not being genuine enough, and having to still deal with a girl’s name, to see it associated with me, really began to weigh on me, and I proceeded with a legal name change to Eaton Hamilton.

So welcome to the new, old me. The whole name thing bugged me from the earliest dates I can remember. You wouldn’t think “Jane” was a name people with which people would tease you, but you’d be wrong. I hated my last name too. When I was a kid, there was a TV show called Mr McGoo, with an addled senior in the main role, so having the name “McKee” was fair game on the playground. Now of course I understand it wasn’t really the names they were picking on, but the person they saw as different and flawed, but it still humiliated me, so I hated it too, and changed my surname to my mother’s natal name when she reverted after divorce.

I’d rather chase a female lineage anyhow, even if it does peter out mere generations back.

Happy almost spring! We got through this blighted winter. I wonder what the covid world holds in store for us in the next season. I only leave the house about once every six weeks, and unless something is emergent, I don’t partake. I hope to hell it’s more positive.

Hearts

ID: Candy hearts with romantic sayings on them like “My Hero” or “Only You”

Valentine’s Day week is a good week to post a story with the title Hearts, isn’t it? It was published by the fine The Sun Magazine in 1993, almost thirty years ago. When they published me a second time, I didn’t actually recall having been published there the first time because, at the time, I was in a new relationship and I’d just quit smoking. I was slammed alternately between limerance and a sucking depression. I probably didn’t even notice a new publication.

Here’s that old story, Hearts. My newer piece with The Sun is Skinning the Rabbit.

I wish you all the best for this week of love. I hope there’s a person or animal who brings a sparkle to your heart. Luckily, a friend sent me a handmade card and a box of chocolates; things like that make it easier to get up in the morning.

If you’re like me, you don’t have a special someone. I’m locked down alone and have been all along. There are benefits to having a loving relationship with yourself, of course, and I find those mostly in the creation of art. Where I live, despite a current cold snap, there are buds on the daffodils, so I know I can soon have an affair on art and fool around with spring.

(If you’d like to keep up with my visual art life, please see Hamilton Art on FB or hamilton1000 on Instagram.)

Best American Essays Notable!

I’m thrilled to be able to announce that one of the essays Roxane Gay chose as “Best of 2019” from Gay Magazine has now garnered a Notable in Best American Essays 2020! I believe it’s my fourth Notable for Best American Essays, and I had one for Best American Short Stories, too, once. Congrats to the other Notables, with whom I’m honoured to be mentioned and to the essayists. Thanks to the series editor, Robert Atwan! #canlit

image credit: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2019, acrylic on paper

I’ve been reading author Carmen Maria Machado’s new memoir ‘In the Dream House’ this week. Luminous, queer, wry, broken–it’s smart and vulherable about IPV in queer relationships. Fragment to fragment, it builds a sharp wounding story.

Some of her anecdotes, though, have been hard on me.

Some anecdotes Carmen described are similar to ones I experienced. In particular, I remember one night where my ex raged and stomped so hard and long that I, terrified, locked myself into my office. This infuriated her and for about 4 hours she pounded the door. That night, I thought she was going to kill me; I didn’t know whether to call 9-1-1 or resist (I’d been warned off it by my lawyer who said the cops wouldn’t support me; in the end, there were about 5 times I needed police or ER help but didn’t call because of that advice). In ‘In the Dream House’ Carmen says that if there had been a gun around, she’d have been killed by it. Me too. I’ve been relieved I lived in Canada, where household guns are rare. That night, I gauged the ridiculous awning windows we’d had put in that opened only about 8″–wondering how I could slither my fat, disabled body out onto the second floor roof. My ex carried on for so long and at such volume, pounding the door, yelling abuse, wheedling, that eventually I had to pee into my coffee cup, and when I did, a pure vein of hatred for her erupted. I had never hated her before. I didn’t again. That’s what Machado understands. She gets it when you are too beaten down for hate. Hate is beside the point. Horror, incredibly sadness, the fall-out of love’s betrayal, the realization you could die–those are what replaces hate. My ex finally stopped trying to pound the door in and things grew quiet, but that was the most ominous thing yet–had she quit? was she waiting until I turned the knob?–and I went back to shaking and waiting, waiting. Waiting for what I didn’t know. Waiting for something to happen.

A few Christmases ago, two fathers in BC killed their families over the holidays. We like to think of familicide as uncommon, but it isn’t. The next fall, I started a book that takes place 10 years after a family homicide. I’ve been considering this novel as my winter rewrite (I work on several). Like Carmen’s book, oddly, it is written in fragments. And it’s illustrated. (Or at least I have envisaged it as such.) I decided to just write a novel I wanted to write (and read). This is how my experimental ‘The Grey Closet’ came to be.

Now I’m going to crawl into bed with the last third of Carmen’s luminescent masterpiece.

How do you say goodbye?

Toni Morrison towered over literature. Though older than me by a generation, her early novels became my lodestones, magnets pointing me toward a new kind of literature. Her writing cracked open a world I hadn’t read on the page before, a vibrant world where Black women were accorded center stage, absent “the white gaze.” I knew how corrosive the white gaze could be from going to school in the Bahamas, and how complete, complex and nuanced were the worlds beyond its acid brow.

“Beloved” eventually became my most cherished title.

I started writing in about 1985 as an out lesbian, using mostly male protagonists. I snuck one story with lesbians into my first collection, a story about two women and their adopted autistic child. My second story collection had lots of queer protagonists, and my second poetry collection was all queer. By the time I wrote those books, I was done pretending just to get published. I understood that I’d been pandering (to use Claire Vaye Watkins’ word), though all the while I had been reaching for something else, the bravery to make up tales my way, from a queer gaze, a non-binary gaze, a disabled gaze, and to insist that mainstream Canada hear me. I honed my skills so that they would have to listen. When they wouldn’t, I submitted to literary awards, and I won contests.

That never translated, for me, into publishing contracts, and so, broken-hearted, I distanced myself. I’m sorry to have to say that we have a long way to go in Canada before parity for queers is reached.

I loved Toni Morrison, and I loved her writing, and the lessons of her writing resound with me even today. I’m grateful her literature is available to us all, and particularly grateful it and she stood as beacon and exemplar for generations of Black womxn. I’m going to be doing what many people around the world are doing now, reading her novels again, reading The Bluest Eye, Jazz, Song of Soloman, letting her literature soak back into me with all its strength and wisdom.

A white person, even one marginalized, cannot begin to understand the meaning of Toni Morrison to Black womxn. Here is a link to a touching and important eulogy by Dr Roxane Gay, NY Times. The Legacy of Toni Morrison.

At Medium, the Zora team has re-printed Toni Morrison: In Her Own Words; Cinderella’s Stepsisters, her commencement address to the Barnard graduating class of ’79.

 

How to Grieve For Your Friend and Mentor, by Amy Jo Burns

image from LitHub

Have you loved and lost a mentor? This is a hollow spot, and we need to write through it. As this terrible year ends, I read this essay by Amy Jo Burns on Alexander Chee, Sigrid Nunez, and Writing After Death. You might like to, too.

How to Grieve For Your Friend and Mentor

Writing Through Disability; Sonya Huber at LitHub

Writing With and Through Pain

by Sonya Huber

“The Key is to Not Panic in the Face of this Void”

The talented, skilled and disabled Sonya Huber, author of the stunning “Pain Woman Takes Your Keys,” writes about how pain affects her literary process.

Sonya Huber is the author of five books, including the essay collection Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System. Her other books include Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, The Evolution of Hillary Rodham Clinton and a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, and other outlets. She teaches at Fairfield University and directs Fairfield’s Low-Residency MFA Program.

“Every Time We Put Pen to Paper, It is an Act of Protest:” a Michele Filgate roundtable on silence

“Red Ink is a quarterly series curated and hosted by Michele Filgate, hosted at powerHouse Arena. This dynamic series focuses on women writers, past and present. The name Red Ink brings to mind vitality, blood, correcting history, and making a mark on the world.

The following is an edited transcript from November’s panel, “Silence,” which featured Rene Denfeld, Alisson Wood, T Kira Madden, Gayle Brandeis, and Alexis Okeowo.”

I always admire the speakers at the Red Ink panels, which are generally excerpted for LitHub. This one is particular good. Since I write mostly about the aftermath of trauma, and am writing about it currently in a novel where a character (like one of Rene’s!) has selective mutism, I was particularly riveted. So might you be.

Every Time We Put Pen to Paper, It is an Act of Protest

 

CBC Guide to Writing Contests for Canadians (some international)

We’re lucky when we get a more or less up-to-date list of what’s happening on the contest scene. Here we are for fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry:

CBC Guide to Writing Contests

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