A discovery! And what happens when you follow other writers’ advice.

So, things today went better today than last week. In short, I wrote more today than I wrote in the entirety of last week. (Yes, that’s how bad things were going.)

One of the things I found helpful was focus@will’s new setting “Cafe focus Beta.” A few months back, I reported that researchers released data indicating that writers are more productive in cafes than sitting in a quiet office at home. Well, I guess the folks at focus@will read the same study, because not only can you use the site to enhance your creativity with baroque or ambient music — or to white noise — you can now listen to a re-creation of a busy cafe full of people.

And yes, I did indeed find it helpful.

I also relied on the advice of other writers today in order to increase my productivity. Continue reading

Visiting “This Way to Eden” today for the Orthodox Women’s Roundtable!

Want to know what Orthodox women think about? Today I am appearing with several other amazing bloggers on the latest round of “Orthodox Women Talk.” We’re answering a reader’s question about integrating spirituality into every day life.orthodoxwomentalk

You can find the post here, and don’t forget to leave comments or even ask a question for the next round.

A classic or a shonda: Which pieces of literature stand the test of time?

Earlier today, I was listening to an audio recording of some Beatrix Potter stories. My children and I laughed over the surreal adventures of little Lucy in “Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle” and the slapstick of “Two Bad Mice.” The stories are about a hundred years old now, I believe, and they’ve stood the test of time very well.

A failure in my sister’s home.

My kids and I often read classics, and sometimes we recommend titles to friends and family looking for a good read. Not too long ago, I recommended “Little House” books to my sister. Specifically, I suggested she start with Farmer Boy, which my children think is nearly as funny as a Beverly Cleary book. The scene where Almanzo feeds his pig home-made candy is one of the few literary moments that have made my kids laugh as hard as Ramona’s antics.

So, my sister and brother-in-law picked up a copy to read with one of their kids. A few days later, I got a phone call from my sister.

“What were you thinking?” she asked. Continue reading

Fighting hibernation again

I think that despite outward appearances, I am a bear.

You may have heard me complain about this before. For some reason, for the last several autumns, my body has decided all I really should be doing at this time of year is lying slanty across a bed or a couch, dozing. My brain does not want to turn on.

Usually, I hold out until December, but this year, it kicked in as soon as sunset arrived before 5 pm local time.

The problem is, I have work to do. And I want to do it. I’ve got plans to write faster the next few weeks in order to finish my serial as quickly as possible. But all I want to do is sleep…

A morning nap helped on Tuesday. Today, I finally perked up after a little rest, a bite to eat, and taking ibuprofen (because the sleepiness is often accompanied by headache). Most of the time, exercise early in the day helps, but today, I was too miserable for even that.

My best friend told me over the phone yesterday that she’s sure all will be well, because at least I know what’s happening so I can take care of myself and know it’s just a temporary thing.

After a few weeks, the hibernation instinct seems to slowly disappear. I’m usually pretty normal by January. And the flip side is that in the spring, I sometimes go a bit manic. Not really, clinically manic, but optimistic and bouncy, energetic and creative. Totally overflowing with ideas and able to write and write and write. Which is pretty useful (not only for writing, but for Passover cleaning).

The good news is that by being patient with myself, I actually got a bunch of writing done today, not as much as I would have liked, but enough to not feel the day was just a total waste. I suppose I just have to be okay with decreased productivity.

And now, I’m returning to my den.

Can we just get this over with?

I am sick of writing my serial.

There, I’ve said it.

This week, I’ve resolved to crank this puppy out as fast as humanly possible, because I fear it has taken over my writing life. I haven’t written a piece of fiction in months other than episodes of Glixman in a Fix.

serial title image

Can I just kill off Mendel’s Aunt Rina?

If I didn’t have readers come over to me every couple weeks and tell me how much they look forward to each episode, I think I would have thrown in the towel already.

I have a bad, baaaaaad feeling that some editor will Continue reading

Have you seen my review of Miriam Kosman’s new book about Jewish feminism in this week’s Jewish Home L.A.?

This week’s Jewish Home L.A. contains my review of Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaismrecently published by Mekor Press and distributed by Menucha Publishers. 

Jewish book on feminism

Miriam Kosman’s outstanding new book about gender within Judaism

Miriam Kosman‘s new book appears at a pivotal point in Jewish history. The role of women in Judaism has dominated the headlines of Jewish media outlets in recent years. Usually, Hareidim are made out to be the bad guys: according to most writers, Hareidi men bully women, look down on us, and short change us in any way humanly possible.

For someone like me — a feminist who willingly joined the ranks of those observant Jews who lean to the right — this kind of “news” makes us want to bang our heads into the wall in frustration. Not only do we perceive the Jewish world differently, many of us chose Orthodoxy in some part because mainstream feminism had failed us. Frankly, we felt more supported and appreciated as human beings, as Jews, and as women within our new community than we did in in our former, non-Orthodox world. We feel respected by the vast majority of Hareidi men, including by our husbands, sons, and rabbis. And while we do see plenty of areas in which our community can and should improve, many of the issues targeted by reporters and crusaders hold completely different meanings for us than for secular people.

Many of the recent books about Judaism written by Modern Orthodox authors have compounded the problem. They report on our world as outsiders (sometimes trumpeting all along how because they are, loosely-speaking, “Orthodox” they therefore have an insider view), and often articulate outrage while playing fast and loose with facts. Yet, until now, few books for the English speaking world have expressed the genuine insider perspective as to why Orthodox women don’t participate in many time-bound positive commandments, are excluded from certain communal rules, and so on. 

Miriam Kosman‘s new book remedies that. Continue reading