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Author Archive: "Joan Wickersham"

On Being Interrupted; or, The News from Porlock

1. This is a piece about interruptions. And about how they—

2. Let's try again. One morning, brushing my teeth after breakfast, I got an idea for a story called "The News from Spain."

I could see it whole — the shape of it, its trajectory, its voice. No details yet, but the entire thing was illuminated and visible in the distance. I didn't know how — or if — I would ever reach it; it might run off, it might lie down and die, it might turn out to be boring; but for the moment, anyway, there was a live current running between me and it. We exchanged a promise. I would shove everything else aside and sit down and wait, and either it would come to me or I would go to it — somehow the two of us would get together.

But not today. My schedule was full of things that couldn't be shoved aside. A magazine deadline. A parent-teacher conference at my son's school. Dinner with a friend who'd recently reproached me for breaking several lunch and dinner dates in a row. So, standing at ...

Stories and Silence

As someone who has just spent ten years writing about a tough subject (my father's suicide), I'm a little reluctant to spend my allotted 400 words here writing any more about it. Wouldn't it be more fun to write about gardening (I love it but am a lightweight, enjoy buying plants, hate weeding, and have never figured out how to fertilize)? Or the books on my bedside table right now (Villette; Peter Cameron's Andorra; and At a Loss for Words, a brisk and deliciously vengeful book by Canadian writer Diane Schoemperlen, which is presented as a novel but which I suspect may be a memoir — ah, now there's a subject for a blog)?

But, no. I am still thinking about suicide. Not any longer about how to tell my father's story — I've done that, finally. But about suicide as a subject, and about how uncomfortable it makes us to talk about ...

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