borrowing bones

The occasional weblog of writer Dora Dueck

Category: Writing

Besides grape jelly

IMG_5272While the grape jelly lids pop and seal in the kitchen, a quick note from my desk to say what I’m up to on the writing front, as promised in the previous post. I’ve got that novel that I seem to have been working on forever more or less done (again) and cooling in a corner, but in the meanwhile have been venturing into some creative non-fiction. I’m pleased that one essay-length foray into CNF has landed on the shortlist of The Quarterly Review‘s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest, and will be published in that most excellent journal some time next year. It’s called “Return Stroke” and weaves together the father-in-law I never knew, lightning (he was struck by it and his mother killed), and the making of biography.

But the project I’m busy with at the moment (the grape jelly a minor and necessary distraction, me being constitutionally unable to let that many grapes from our own vines go to waste) is a memoir. I described it this way to the Manitoba Arts Council: “A memoir about two years in the Paraguayan Chaco–on the themes of belonging and identity as immigrant, mother, writer.” I’m very grateful that the MAC subsequently awarded me a grant; the plan is to work at this until the end of the year. I had drafted the narrative last winter after re-reading my letters to my parents (which they had kept) and my sporadic journal from those years, 1982-4. Now the work of improving–by adding and cutting, finding the right voice and structure, and fun things like that. Unlike fiction, I can’t make anything up, so my only option is to make what happened interesting. And yes, when it isn’t hard, it’s fun.colour (2)

Last notes: my review of Rob Zacharias’ book Rewriting the Break Event: Mennonites & Migration in Canadian Literature is online here; my review of Rudy Wiebe’s Come Back appears in the current issue of Rhubarb magazine.



A string of December thoughts

I meant to gather some reflections on winter, sew some meaning through them as a Christmas wish for you, my readers, but already I know I can’t pull it off. So how about I just hang a string of disjointed thoughts (in mostly muted colors) and thank you in advance for receiving them as is.

A Child’s Death

On Sunday we got the terrible news that our nephew’s nine-year-old son in Paraguay (where my husband’s family lives) was killed in a motorcycle accident. How these things happen: the father and his son riding home after a bit of a visit elsewhere in the (farming) village, the mother emerging from their driveway in the car at the very moment they reached it,  he braking, the bike flipping and the child was under it and with a last gasp his life ended. The funeral was this morning. The father is the age of our oldest son, they played together when we lived in Paraguay, they have children the same age. “There are no words I can write that will make this better,” our son wrote his cousin, “but please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.” There are no words indeed. Read the rest of this entry »

On the Canadian writers’ blog tour

Sally Ito tagged me for a stop on the Canadian writers’ blog tour. More about the tour in a moment, but first about Sally. She’s  a Winnipeg writer of poetry (most recently Alert to Glory), memoir, and non-fiction, as well as teacher, translator, and artist (see her “tour” posts at Sally’s Visualandia). She often writes a haiku as her Facebook status, like this evocatively colorful one:

On the window sill
replacing ripe tomatoes
empty blue bottle

Now about the tour. Someone described the Canadian writers’ blog tour as a chain letter for writers–except that there’s no threat of misfortune should it be broken! I don’t know who started it or all the places it’s gone, though a google search uncovers some of its  pathways. Essentially one answers four questions, and then tags another writer or two for a further stop.

So, welcome to my place on the tour, and here goes: Read the rest of this entry »


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