Re-turning & Re-launching: A Writer’s Life


Since I was very young all I wanted was a writer’s life, a life lived in my imagining, reading, listening to words and music, observing, remembering, telling stories, learning, teaching, and putting it all on paper. I wanted to be in this delightful space of powerful, positive, and productive work. I decided to pursue a writer’s life to sustain me both creatively and financially in 2013. In the five years since I’m succeeding in building the writer’s life I envisioned.

It is said you can never go home again. This can be translated into any kind of going or any home or any returning. It isn’t that you can’t ever go home or return to a place that holds your history, memories, and foundational connections. It’s that both you and the place will have changed in both easily perceived and imperceptible ways. I am returning to this webpage, formerly Black Magnolias, after a three-year absence. This is a terrifying return, no hyperbole. Writing, communicating, creating, connecting, and engaging on social media causes me to clean my closets, cook and bake for the freezer, repot the plants, and alphabetize the books on my shelves, almost anything, before returning to this social media home. Give me the phone, a small intimate gathering of family friends or strangers, a classroom, an auditorium, a microphone in a crowded recording booth at a radio station, anywhere else. Yet, here I am returning to this space changed, renewed, and living the writer’s life I promised myself. Here I am renewing my invitation to you to share my thoughts and imaginings, my meditations and prayers, my writing, my accomplishments and my procrastinations, yes, I’m inviting you into a writer’s life.

I am now launching A Writer’s Life Teaching and Wellness Practices in order to complete my cycle of remembering, telling, meditating, praying, recovering, healing, sharing, honing my craft, and teaching that have saved, preserved, and propelled me into joy. Launching A Writer’s Life and re–launching this website is truly scary for me, yet after each time I clean or wash or organize something and come back to these pages, fear recedes and my delight and joy at each small step and accomplishment in my own learning and healing is worthy of the fear filled journey. On these pages I will be: sharing excerpts from my writing projects-reviewing the best places for writing away from our desks-sharing writing meditations–contributing writing prompts-reviewing books–discussing authors and books that inspire and teach our craft-speaking to writer’s self-care and wellness-providing writings and supplying images of art, music, photographs, and other subjects and topics that support thinking and writing creatively and, insisting that we: think-write-revise-share–rest-care for ourselves lovingly and deeply-return to the writing-revise-revise again–publish–share even more-write even more.

Come join me and visit A Writer’s Life Blog, leave a comment, share with writer friends and like my Facebook Page. Please be on the lookout for upcoming A Writer’s Life Writing Classes and Workshops and Writing Camp.



Facebook Page:

This web page was designed and constructed by Suma Nagaraj. She was my classmate and became my beloved friend while I earned my first MFA in nonfiction at the University of San Francisco University in 2015. Suma returned to her home in Bangalore, India and this website has not been updated until now. I am forever grateful to Suma for building this social media home base for me out of love and her belief that I would return to this space an re-launch A Writer’s Life.


Promise by Amana Brembry Johnson, Sculptor


Excerpt from my memoir

This is an excerpt from an early chapter of my upcoming memoir: The Saltbox House on Bayou Black.

017Saturday Morning

Along with my brothers, Dwight and Jesse, and my sister Jean, I watched Roy Rogers on a black-and-white console TV our grandfather, Peter Samuel Ransom, Ditty, we called him, had won at a raffle for World War I veterans. He had it shipped to us because he and my grandmother, Martha England Ransom, T. Martha her family called her, didn’t have electricity in their saltbox house on Bayou Black. As I watched the cowboy show, I imagined the colors of a desert sky, rock, cactus, and low sparse trees. We sang along, and my throat and chest swelled with delicious trilling when they sang, while riding into the sunset: Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy Trails to you, until we meet again. Happy Trails to you, until we meet again.”

My brothers and sister rooted for the good guys, white men in white hats, and against the bad guys, white men in black hats. I rooted for the Indians. When we played, I was always an Indian. None of us were the prissy white women whose dresses dragged in the dirt or the floozies who hung out in saloons, leaned all over strange and drunk men, danced the can-can, and let men follow them upstairs to their rooms.

I wrapped the belts from Jesse and Dwight’s trousers around my chest and shoulders. They turned into quivers to hold my arrows. To overcome the driver of the stagecoach, I climbed to the top bunk. I pushed Dwight off onto blankets and pillows below. I took over his reins and spread my feet across the narrow space between the two sets of metal bunk beds in our bedroom.

The bed’s metal frames became the backs of wild horses stolen from their lands, and I was coming to the rescue. I pounced on the bottom bunk, dragging greenhorns and gringos from the coach. I hooted and howled and smashed and slashed with tomahawks fashioned from wooden spoons.

Breakfast, an extra special treat, was delivered express to our Wells Fargo stopover in our Magnolia Project room by our mama. We demolished the eggs, grits, biscuits, and grape jelly. Milk chalked on the sides and hardened to rich soft–yellow cream circles on the bottoms of our jelly glasses. We dashed down the hall and into the kitchen to hurriedly scrape and stack our dishes. We scurried, pushing, shoving, and laughing between cliff–hanging scenes and during commercials advertising Tide, Ivory soap, Hoola Hoops, and Brylcream. We honored the special breakfast treat our mother had made for us with this rare retreat from the TV.

One day without warning, while we scraped dishes, I felt heartsick. My brothers and sister suddenly turned mean, too rough. They pointed and laughed. A cappella and in harmony they sang: “Crybaby, crybaby, suck ya mama’s titty. Always rooting for the Indians. You betta get tough girl. You betta know the right side to be on.”

This Bridge Reading: University of San Francisco

bridge cover

Thirty–four years ago, two Chicana women anthologized twenty-nine women of color writers in This Bridge Called My Back: Writing by Radical Women of Color. This book has become a touchstone of academic, social, and political thinking, study, and activism for two generations. My name is Andrea Canaan, M.F.A. class of 2014, and I am one of the contributors to the historic 4th Edition of This Bridge Called My Back, co-edited by Chérrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, SUNY Press, New York, 2015. When we contributed to This Bridge, we urgently hoped our writing and social justice work would become literal and figurative bridges from 1981 to now. This Bridge editors and contributors can all say that our urgent hopes have resulted in our work having become of powerful, positive, and productive use in our world. Imagine my joy at spotting a student reading a copy of This Bridge in The Market one day only to learn that it was being used as a text in her Gender Studies class.

I am so proud as a woman of color writer, an activist, a USF alumnus, and contributor to This Bridge, that the USF, MFA in Creative Writing Program has agreed to sponsor a reading of This Bridge on Wednesday September 16, 2015 from 7:00 to 9:00PM. Come join us.

Blessings for the Beloved Cursed: An excerpt

This is an excerpt from a work-in-progress response to the death of nine.

There are those who are proud of you. They wish they had driven to the church with you. They feel they missed out. They know they would have needed a crowd, maybe hoods, maybe Molotov cocktails, maybe bombs. They are in awe you sat for an hour staring into what was hated and erasable. And when the hated, those to be erased, welcomed you, made a space for you in a circle of study and prayer, you killed nine, would have killed more.

Brownness: An excerpt

An excerpt from my essay in the anthology of essays by radical women of color, The Bridge Called My Back, the fourth edition of which was recently released:

In facing myself, while eliminating my self oppression, I stumbled into a terrifying and isolated place. If I reject and question concepts, morays, and values of my brown community, where is my support, where is my family, what becomes of my sense of community…peoplehood? While becoming myself, will I become so different, so threatening, that they too will reject me?

1. Intergenerational -Andrea Canaan & Jonathan

I am facing that terror and isolation as are brown women across the globe. When we question ourselves, seek to create harmonious, supportive, nurturing, liberating environments for ourselves, we find the white and brown super cultures ready to wage battle together in order to make us reformed, in order to decrease their stress and difficulty in visualizing difference and selfhood as revolution and revolution as positive and necessary for the cohabitation on this planet.

Pictured, Andrea Canaan with workshop attendee Jonathan Leal at Stanford’s The Bridge Reading and Workshop