I write all over the map

photo: Andrew Neel for Unsplash

I am not a niche writer. I publish with some regularity for The Writing Cooperative, and for Middle-Pause. Also for P.S. I Love You, The Faculty, and others. Many pieces are about caregiving and ALS, about family relationships, teaching... I’ll set up themes below, and collected titles — not all — but ones you may have missed. Browse and enjoy. I appreciate your readership. You might even want to check out my books.

People! Relationships! Connecting!

Caregiving, ALS, Aging


‘Cus it’s til death do us part

photo: Joshua Coleman for Unsplash

Literary agents are like boyfriends: you shouldn’t marry the first one who comes along. Finding an agent to handle your work is too much like finding The One, and so much more difficult to divorce.

You need to keep a cool and calculating head, think about your needs, read fine print, and make Decisions.

Ironically, you need to have all the acumen that you are seeking in the agent; the role you want for them in your career, is exactly what you need to be in the instant of finding and signing. …

The good, the bad, and the ugly

photo: Arun Sapru for Unsplash

In sickness and in health

What does that mean? It wasn’t something I was thinking about, that hot August day in our backyard under the pear tree. I wore a green wedding dress that I’d discovered in an antique store, a week after telling my mother that green was the original color of wedding dresses before the advent of Queen Victoria. Fertility as opposed to purity.

The original wearer of the gown I bought was married in 1917, and my history-major-heart beat a little faster at that; I thought one had to be very brave to get married in the…

Middle-age and middle-ground

photo: Paul Stollery for Unsplash

In 2016, I applied for a position in my writing program, after years of contract work, and the post went to a younger woman, with less experience. That was a wake-up call, and I could feel the shift; I’d entered a new time. A time of pending crone.

I made the decision to relieve myself of the burden of ever applying for an academic position again. My focus moved on to writing and enjoying life.

But in the last while — months now — there is something disturbing at play. I cannot place a finger directly on it, but perhaps…

Let’s resurrect the idea of tithe, and keep art in our lives

photo: Jazz-to-GoGo playing in Vancouver park, courtesy of Viviane Hotz

This past summer, this was the one way I heard live music: in the park, and on the beach, with a jazz standards group. Bring a blanket and bottle, enjoy the setting sun, the warmth on my back. Listening to tunes that have sustained for decades.

The idea of tithing is even older: take 10% of whatever we earn, and give it to something or someone we believe in. It used to be about the church. But let’s focus on the What you believe in piece. Or What sustains you.

I know I cannot live without music and literature, dance…

And you are atheist, agnostic, or ambivalent.

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

I grew up in a fundamentalist home, where the Bible was read in the most literal ways. I left — ran away, in fact — from that home very young, and some years later, when I had my own children, I decided that I would raise them to be kindly humans, rooted in knowledge and thoughtfulness. I would not submit them to religious belief with its suffocating hold; it all seemed quite straightforward to me.

Out of nowhere, my second son at age five asked to go to church

I was flummoxed, and had to check my immediate reaction — an involuntary “no!” I asked him for time to think about his request. …

4 mental kicks to the backside.

photo: Raquel Martinez for Unsplash

What is stopping you? What is at stake? Is this reversible? irreversible?

How much are you loathing the limbo of not making a decision? Can you live with it? Are you forcing others to live in your limbo with you? Can you free them and do this on your own, and your own time? Or does your entire life feel to be on hold? Or even just too big a part of your life?

1. Basic Pros and Cons

Maybe you’ve done this already, listed the positives and potential negatives that will come of your decision. …

Marital Itch

photo: Weronika Marcińczyk for Unsplash

We used to laugh about my father’s beloved fig tree. If we didn’t, we’d do the proverbial cry.

The tree

My father cared for that tree for years, a multi-trunk monster. He refused to prune, and built a structure around it, with a platform two storeys high, on which to place a step-ladder. My mother reassured herself that he’d been a carpenter all his life, and had never lost his ability to clamber at heights. When she couldn’t stand seeing him up in the green, arm stretching to reach fruit… she would take a long walk.

And return to find the kitchen…

How does that work?

photo by Element5 Digital for Unsplash

Ask any one of my three sons, and in minutes they’ll come up with multiple tales of Mom-getting-lost: the time I drove right by the ice arena (and did it a second time, too); the time I took the left when I should have known to take the right. But hey, it was dark. And sometimes I forget that left is right and right is left. Being left-handed and all…

Lost in Space

How many times did we show up at the out-of-town ice arena late or too close to being late? Which is okay… unless you’re the mother of the goalie.


A good one makes all the difference

photo by Toa Heftiba for Unsplash

It’s that time of year again. Along with final papers and exams and overdue library books, there are email notifications to fill in teaching and course evaluations…blah,blah, blah.

Delete. Too busy.

Are you too busy? Really?

Writing a teaching and course evaluation for a contract teacher is important. Maybe not for you. But for the teacher it can be the difference between having a job and not having a job in the coming year. There may also be such pieces as “merit” funds on the line, or promotion, or even some bit of job security… such as it is, in contract work.

So many students do not realize that many of their teachers are “contract” employees

In Canada, more…

Alison Acheson

My latest book is a caregiving memoir, Dance Me to the End: Ten Months and Ten Days With ALS. I am now on Substack with The Unschool for Writers: a DIY MFA.

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