APRIL 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio


Spring break for me meant catching up on art stuff and doing contracts and show prep. I did manage to get some writing in and a few things submitted though.

I was unsuccessful for the Malahat long poetry prize, but now I have 12 poems to send around! I am thinking they may head over to the Harvard Advocate. I was however, successful with my art submission to The Tulane Review and I will be featured in the spring issue! Not writing, but still a lit journal:-)

I will also have a bit of featured writing coming up in Yoko Ono’s “ARISING – LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM. THE INSTRUCTIONS OF YOKO ONO AND THE ART OF JOHN AND YOKO.“ at the FONDATION PHI POUR L’ART CONTEMPORAIN in Montreal from April 25th to September 15th. So that is off the charts cool!

I’ve also submitted 3 pieces over the break, one poem and two short stories.

What I’m working on right now.


April means Camp NaNoWriMo and I am all tucked cozily in my cabin with three of my school cohort. It’s going to be fun and I’ll be working on my biggest short story ever. I’ve been making notes about how to address a few issues since its first draft about 20 years ago, so I look forward to jumping in!

This week at school we’re going to be discussing the ‘rupture’ (which I kept reading that as ‘rapture’ - whole other ball game!), which is where your work just kind of falls apart and you need to take it in another direction. I have experienced this a lot in painting, so I’m interested to hear what others have to say. And then I think the rest of the month is publishing - yay!

I should also hear back about my Access Copyright Research Grant application this month - all fingers crossed please!:-)


MARCH 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio


I just signed on for the Women in Publishing Summit happening from the 4th to the 8th of March, because I guess some part of me felt that I could shove one more thing into my brain right now! I am looking forward to it though, Eileen Cook suggested it to us.

Last month I sent a submission to the CBC Non-Fiction contest, some art to the Tulane Review and received two rejections; one poem and one short story. By the end of this month, the Malahat Review Long Poem Contest should be publishing the names of the short listed poets. I re-read mine yesterday and I’m still so happy with it, and I think that’s what counts here. I wanted to write a 12 page poem and I did (Thanks for the inspiration again Kayla!). I also received my membership to Access Copyright and joined the Federation of Canadian Writers.

Last month we also started a second writers group, made up of some of the members of our school cohort. Now that we have done it, I sort of wish we had waited until after July because it feels sort of messy and overlapping, but on the other hand, I think we did need to ‘strike while the iron was hot’, and get into the habit of doing this without the help of our Mentor. 

I have sent in another grant application, if I get this one I can really get my hands into more book research. Right now I am at that part when there is so much information sloshing around in my head that I am waiting for it all to settle down. Then comes the exciting part, when an idea will spark and I’ll be off down the writing rabbit hole. I can’t wait!


What I’m working on right now.


In class right now we’re studying Intellectual Property & Copyright with the amazing Renee Sarojini Saklika. It’s so interesting, people are asking some great questions!

I’m currently writing a short story for a call at Caitlin Press, as well as revising a few short stories for lit mag submissions.

I’m researching daily and have a huge stack of books that sits beside me, mostly for company right now, but I’ll have to crack them soon. I should have more time now that two of my big art exhibits have begun and the stress of preparing them is over.

I’m excited about my mentor meeting with Stella on Monday!


FEBRUARY 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio


This week I received two rejection letters.

When I was young this would have crushed me, but now I celebrate it because it means a) I am writing and sending tons of work out into the world b) I can write and send tons of work out into the world and c) there are some people that still care enough (or are organized enough) to send out something to say you are rejected.

I find it much more crushing to feel the lack of kindness that is attached to the ‘silent rejection’, where you are just left wondering - forever, and while I know I make excuses for some places and people by saying ‘maybe they just aren’t that organized yet’, the truth is, that they may not care, and THAT my friend, is crushing.

So why have people think badly of you and put all that bad juju into the universe? Set up your system correctly from the start, set up an auto-responder - it takes mere seconds to do. And if you are already inundated with no time to set up a new system, I’m asking you to please make time, because it is a big deal for us to send you our children and yes we do - sit and wait to hear back from you, mark off days on our calendars and become blue if we never hear a word. It’s discouraging at best.

It’s just a kindness, a nicety that goes a long way and you will feel better for having done it. 

Trust me.

What I’m working on right now.


And in other news, February 1st marks the end of our cross-genre work and we are into IP & Copyright, which I am looking forward to, because I think there is a cross-over here into the art world and I have just had an issue with design theft, where I did have to send out a cease and desist letter.

I am heavily into my research and work on Talking with Grandmothers and have cast my net wide, hoping to gather any information I can. Chelsea (Horton) also begins her search at the Royal BC Museum Archives this month, so it’s all pretty exciting.

I’ve connected with two amazing people, author Kay Johnston (The Amazing Mazie Baker) and Cease Wyss who I seem to have a lot in common with. 

I have finished some rudimentary revisions in June and am starting to send query letters to agents, as I was so inspired by Eileen Cook’s seminar last week.

Bring on the rejections, I welcome them:-)



JANUARY 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio 


Some of you may know that I have been in the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio since last September. I applied for this program because I felt it was time and my writing which was sitting in a box in a dark closet was now ripe enough to be eaten. But in order for it to be eaten, it must first be prepared properly and I had no idea where to begin.

Sort of like having blowfish for dinner, with no idea where to put your fork.

Although I have been writing my entire life, and have been published in many different places, I wanted to get serious and do this thing right. I want to find an agent and a publisher, I want to be a mainstream writer, one that makes the CBC ‘best of’ list. It’s a tall order, and a lot of pressure that I’ve put on my paintbrush wielding self. But here I am, and I’m giving it everything. Yes Luke, I’m all in.



What I’m working on right now.


The group I am in at TWS is the Fiction-Personal Memoirs cohort with Mentor Stella Harvey. I am currently working on my creative non-fiction book entitled “Letters To June”. I was nearly finished, but when I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this past November, I finally did finish it, after almost forty years. I am currently working on revisions and starting to think about agents and publishers.

During the course of this program, we all take one month and crossover to another genre. I feel very fortunate here, to be spending my January writing and learning about poetry with Mentor Kayla Czaga. Poetry was my first love, and that is probably why I have written so many songs. Once in a while a poem does still erupt, but this month I am writing loads of them and loving it.

I have come a long way (I hope) from: “Dune buggy, dune buggy I love you so...”, written around the age of 10 while heavily crushing on the Beach Boys.

The two poems I am working on this week are: ‘Stitches’ and ‘Eco....’. I will post them both along with any other as soon as I can. I may submit them somewhere, so need to ensure that they can be posted. If not, well, you’ll just have to wait.

*Update, you will have to wait, as I have entered the Malahat Review’s Long Poem Contest including one of the above poems - not sure why, I guess my brain just opened up during this month and I ended up writing a 12 page series including one of the above. It was a really awesome experience, I love pushing myself way outside of my boundaries!

I also just began one called ‘Pudge’, this one I may gift to you once it’s complete.


Other bits I am working on include


a novella length book, which I also finished during NaNo, called “The Last Stupid Thing I’ll Do”. 

My book of short stories is probably near to being full, I have massive revisions to do and thank goddy god for my amazing cohort, who have collectively given me probably the best advice of anyone in my life, ever. 

I have been working on this one since the late 90’s and also finished it during NaNo. (Basically NaNoWriMo was insane, I completed so much writing and I needed nearly an entire month for my mind to settle down).

I am also working on another creative non-fiction book about my family and the history of Vancouver. I am so honoured and grateful for receiving the Friends of the British Columbia Archives Indigenous Research Grant to help with the research.

On the same theme, I should note that last October (2018) I was intervewed by

Alex de Boer Podcast Coordinator, CiTR 101.9 FM

for a story on the descendents of Stanley Park Families, and we recetly heard back that the CBC is keen on producing it for 

The Doc Project

This is pretty exciting as well, though I will probably only play a small part. For the interview I read my recent ROOM essay; “In The Bentwood Box”. I was nervous, but Alex made it quite relaxed, so it was fun.

In my other world I am still learning how to balance painting and writing, or rather the business of art with writing, because planning exhibits and contracts etc. takes so much time, but I’m getting there. I am booked for 2019 and just waiting to book 2020 shows now. With any luck I will fill my calendar quickly so I can focus solely on writing for a while.

These are all of my plans big and small. One thing I have learned though, is that plans can change and we need to be flexible. So like Gumby, I wait to see what will happen next.

What I’m currently reading:


The Little Prince by St Exupery
No Time To Spare by Le Guin
On Writing by King
The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul 
by Adams
Braiding Sweetgrass by Kimmerer
Blueberries For Sal by McCloskey



How do you do. My name is Jenn Ashton and I would like to tell you about my writing.

Copyright @2019 JennAshton contact me @raveonstudio