Writer in Residence

it moves

By Trynne Delaney

A couple weeks back, V turned over in bed and asked me when she’d find her purpose. A day later my sibling, S, called me up and asked the exact same thing. “When will I find my purpose?” I didn’t know what the question meant. Worse, I didn’t know what “purpose” meant.

Another friend called and we talked deep into Friday night while they walked across the city. I asked if they understood my confusion and they said “yes,” then added that I was “uniquely incapable of providing advice in that moment.” I think we both laughed. Who asked for advice anyway? What about comfort? Later, we decided that to me “nothing is sacred” and in agreeing with that statement, I knew I’d started lying again. 

I haven’t been writing but I’ve felt a narrative looming. Something is hanging in the air and I can’t quite make it out. It’s far away, it’s foggy and it’s becoming increasingly opaque.  I’m sure whatever it is, it will bring weather. Inside and warm, I sit on my chair and consider the yellow air of Ravicka in Renée Gladman’s Event Factory. I do not understand. My ears ring. Later, I fall back into bed.


seaweed clump in black and white to separate text.

This year, I spent the holidays away from my parents for the first time. Xmas was just me and my sibling and the best decision we ever made. I flew to visit them in California. As soon as they got off work we headed south. We drove into the desert, to Joshua Tree. I wondered if we were supposed to find ourselves or something. 

S told me last time they were in the desert they walked out far and climbed a mountain. They could see their way back so clearly. I thought I could imagine it once we were there, but in the desert it’s so hard to understand scale. 




Out there I recognized Nope, Ingrid Goes West, and Punisher on the landscape between advertisements for personal injury lawyers. One of my favourites for how shameless it was read “La Law Land” in a bold sans-serif block. This place was supposed to be empty, I thought, but not like this – inhabited by traces of fictions and the spectacles that let us commune in the shadows they cast. Even when we lost service I couldn’t stop thinking of the brightness of this desert world, its familiar retinal destruction. As if I didn’t get enough, I scrolled through my pictures on my phone that night with the light off on the toilet.

Before us, the mountains laid, dormant anthills. I asked S to turn the music off so we could hear the desert wind and our thoughts.


seaweed clump in black and white to separate text.


I haven’t been writing – I’ve been reading, again. 

In her graphic memoir Are You My Mother Alison Bechdel writes alongside psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott about the idea of the true self and the false self. This true self, this authentic self, is a fixation of mine as well and I was surprised to find it in this book that was gifted. My own obsession so closely parallels Bechdel’s that I completely lost comprehension of myself as individual while I was reading, an experience I have not had while reading in over a year. In her book, Bechdel (and Winnicott) write about how the true self might be hidden from the false self for survival purposes. I recognized this idea and I wanted to believe it but true/false is binary, which is another way of saying that it’s a lie. Still, it compels me. I know that I have desperately tried to write towards this binary in the past. Now, I keep questioning. Writing is not good at answering. 


A meme seperated into 3 horizontal rows. In Row 1 are pictures of dinosaurs on the left with an arrow pointing right towards a group of buckets of oil, one is spilled. The text above reads "And yet a trace of the true self" In the second row are the buckets of oil, copied to the left hand side followed by an arrow to the right towards an image of a pile of microplastics. In Row 3 the image of the microplastics is copied on the left and an arrow points right towards a group of plastic dinosaurs. The text above row 3 reads "Exists in the False Self." The whole scenario reads "And yet a trace of the true self exists in the false self"


Writing suspends us in time – the future, the past, the presences that emerge through writing cannot be pure. Recently, I’ve come to see writing as a lie that leans on truth. Whatever that means, I keep forgetting. What I hold onto is writing’s sacred physicality. It compels. It continues. It moves.

Again and again I will become ambivalent, then amorphous. What was my purpose? I can’t remember. My face changes shape again. I don’t recognize myself. And so, I and It must move towards whatever purpose is not. 

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Trynne Delaney is a writer currently based in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal). They are the author of the half-drowned (winner of the QWF First Book Prize) and A House Unsettled. In their spare time they like to garden.