Image for post
Image for post
image: Nika Akin for Pixabay

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about liminal spaces.

Liminality is the borderline area, the frontier, the place that—as a Lewis Carroll character might say—is neither here nor there. Rites of passage move people through liminal moments. Borders move people through liminal places.

That liminality is on my mind because I’ve recently been having trouble sleeping, and so I’ve been hyper-aware of that almost-but-not-quite asleep moment during which (as in all liminal spaces) magic quite clearly occurs.

For me, magic always has to do with writing. I am a writer not just in the sense that writing is what I…


Image for post
Image for post
image: Robert Stokoe for Pexels

I walk down my street at night and listen. Mostly, since the pandemic, what I’ve heard is silence, a dog barking, perhaps a door slamming. Before that (and returning, no doubt, once it’s over) there was too much to hear: parties and laughter, raucous shouts and revving engines. But sometimes, just once in a while, I hear the echo of what I’ve been listening for. On my same street, once upon several different times, lived and worked literary luminaries: John Dos Passos and Mary Heaton Vorse, Eugene O’Neill and Susan Glaspell, Norman Mailer and Edna St. …


Image for post
Image for post
image: Imani Bahati for Unsplash

As a writer, I have a tendency to believe that words are everything. I’m not always wrong. One of the most important things I’ve learned over time is this: everything starts with a sentence. Seriously. Everything you do in life, your achievements, failures, fears, joys… they’re all shaped by thoughts in your mind, that is, by words and sentences.

The equation looks like this: Words → Feelings → Actions → Results.

If you’re not happy about the results you have in your life, you have the power to change at least some of them by changing the story you’re telling…


Image for post
Image for post

Many years ago, my friend Daniel, who’s a journalist, said something that’s stayed with me. “Reporters write about facts,” he said. “Novelists write about truth.”

We’re now living in a world where the expression “alternative facts” somehow has inexplicably managed to enter our vocabularies as A Thing, so the facts/truth divide is a question I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about.

We all lie sometimes. Social lies, little white lies… my father was a diplomat, and I learned at an early age to listen and interpret when I heard people say things I knew to be false. “Think…


Image for post
Image for post
image: Hulki Okan Tabak for Unsplash

The problem with talking about the past is that there’s no one “past” we can all learn from. The truism that history is written by the winners is underlined when we try to find out about any under-represented group (which in general, and certainly in the west, means anyone who isn’t white, male, and reasonably affluent). Because there aren’t a lot of primary sources (2nd-century slaves in Greece didn’t exactly pen their memoirs, for example), we need to dig more to find lost voices. …


Image for post
Image for post
Philip Goldsberry for Unsplash

As an author, I’ve written a number of dystopian stories, and unless we start understanding what is happening in our country and the world, they’re all set to come true.

You have to understand, Donald Trump is not the problem. If you’re breathing a sigh of relief that he’s leaving office and a normal human being (yeah, setting the bar pretty low here) is taking his place, don’t relax too much. There will be another Trump. It’s guaranteed. And the next one might be a little less stupid, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The problem is Republican politicians and…


Image for post
Image for post
image: Shutterstock

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I don’t think any author has ever not been asked that question at one time or another. (Neil Gaiman has some very creative and way-too-clever answers, by the way.) But here’s the thing: it’s the wrong question. Ideas aren’t what create characters, stories, words that can move readers to joy or anger or tears. You don’t tuck yourself into bed at night looking forward to reading some ideas before you go to sleep.

Ideas are, as a matter of fact, vastly overrated.

Beginning writers seem to guard theirs anxiously, plastering copyright notices all over…


Image for post
Image for post

My former writing partner, Assaf, loves the old Columbo TV series. Seriously loves it. He’s done Columbo-watching marathons. He’s consistently enthused about and appreciative of the show’s writing. And, like any good artist, he’s looked behind the curtain at what works so well, to analyze the how and the why of it.

In other words, deconstructing Columbo.

Different people have at different times noted that there are only three (or seven, or twenty-one, depending on who’s doing the analysis) original stories in our collective creative reservoir. Everything, every story, every idea at some level, one can argue, falls under —…


Image for post
Image for post
image: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona for Unsplash

Racism. Misogyny. Homophobia. They’re all working off a common assumption: a given culture has a norm, and anyone who’s different from the norm is just that — different, and therefore, of course, inferior.

Feminists have for example long argued that using language like “mankind,” or making the assumption that “he” also implicitly includes the legions of “she,” effectively sets up two tiers: the norm and the not-norm. Well, of course mankind means everybody — but it says “man,” doesn’t it? And language and culture follow each other.

I’m a product of my culture. I’ll admit to my racism; I actually…


Image for post
Image for post
Pretty much what I look like after reading a bad review!

In a digitally connected world, it’s not a question of whether whatever you do is reviewed online. It’s when it will be.

And how.

I do freelance work — copywriting, ghostwriting, developmental editing, that sort of thing — so pretty much the Internet is my marketplace. And the first time I got a bad review via Google Business… well, I’ll be honest. I cried. It’s easy to respond emotionally when you’ve put the work in and it’s not appreciated — and, in fact, is criticized. …

JeannettedeBeauvoir

Bestselling novelist of mystery and historical fiction. Writer, editor, & business storyteller at jeannettedebeauvoir.com.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store