And in other publishing news…

I sent a post to Kveller for their Raising Kvell blog, and they published it this week. It’s totally the opposite end of the spectrum from this week’s Tablet piece:

  • non-controversial topic,
  • short,
  • I wrote it and it was published in a week, without the several months of editing required by the other piece.

It’s light and fun, but also meaningful. Check it out. You know, if you wanna…

The new Tablet story my editor is afraid I’m going to get hate mail for

My newest piece is up on Tablet. When I submitted the pitch several months ago to the Life and Religion editor, Wayne Hoffman, he cautioned me: do you really want to do this?

The topic of the essay is a controversial one in the Jewish community — women wearing Tefillin — and he was afraid I’d get a lot of trolls. And probably some genuine hate mail, to boot.

My original proposal was a much wider topic — the denigration of traditional feminine roles by many “feminists” in the Jewish community. I shot off the query letter in a fit of pique after yet another feminist looked down her nose at my lifestyle and basically told me I was so persecuted I didn’t know that I was persecuted.

The first draft was a mess: too big, too venting, too…too…everything.

I have to really give credit to the very special Mr. Hoffman, who asked the right questions and nudged me in the right direction until I could be proud of the resulting essay. We cut most of the first draft, and narrowed the topic considerably, then tried to focus on the positive aspects of the story.

Anyway, I hope you check the essay out and share and comment and all that.

Two writing-themed reads: Wired for Story and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

Neuropsychology might be a writer’s best friend.

I recently read two relatively new books about writing that I found very useful, and thought I’d share them with you.

Wired for Story

My best friend since college is, like me, a professional writer, although she specializes in a totally difference field. When she raved about the book Wired for Story, I immediately added it to my Goodreads list. It just took me a while to actually buckle down and read it. I’m glad I finally did. Continue reading

Writing conundrum: Leaving behind that outline without creating problems

So, I’m back to cranking out chapters of my serial this week, and this time, I hope to do it a little faster. The quicker I finish the serial, the easier it will be for me to focus on other projects, I think. Anyway, something is happening as I write that I think is worth mentioning, because I sincerely doubt that I’m the only writer to experience it.

In the beginning, there was an outline…

serial title imageIn order to secure my gig to write my current serial for Binah BeTween (“Glixman in a Fix”), I had to prepare an outline. Once that was approved (along with character profiles, the summary, and so on), I started writing. Generally, I write the serial episodes — I might have mentioned this before — in blocks of three, basing them on the outline. Because I’m working from an outline, with characters who are now well known to me, the writing goes relatively quickly. Then I revise the rough drafts once or twice and send them together in a batch to the editor.

Recalibrating

We’re now more than a third of the way in, and more and more often, I find that I’m diverging from the outline. Continue reading

Let it out: 5 Steps to Writing when Emotional

Yesterday, which started with the announcement that the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teens had been recovered and ended for me with a shiva call, kept me in such a state of horror and confusion, I didn’t get much writing done. After several failed attempts at work, I finally gave up and decided to develop a community action project I’d dreamed up instead.

While everyone else was asleep…

Late at night, I awoke, exhausted but still reeling from the emotional turmoil of my day. So many words seemed to bubble out of me, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually, I got out of bed and wrote the first draft of an essay about the special lady whose shiva I’d attended earlier in the day. When I was done, I felt emptied out, much calmer and more ready to sleep.

But is it good writing?

While writing material at the moment I am wrapped up in heartache, delirious joy, or nervousness can help me work through my feelings, I find that the outcome usually isn’t my best writing, or even my most passionate writing to read. Word choice suffers, and is often redundant. Logic wavers. Sometimes the resulting text is downright incoherent. You might even call it Writing Under the Influence…of Emotions. It can be that circuitous, drawling, and dribbling.

I’ve developed a process that works for me in these moments.

5 Steps to Writing when Emotional

Continue reading

Switching from the Pressure Cooker to the Crock-Pot: A (much needed) break

Whew!

At this point last week, I had three looming deadlines ahead: a short story each for Binyan and for Binah BeTween, and my next batch of episodes for Glixman in a Fix, the serial currently running in Binah BeTween. I was feeling stressed out not just because these items needed to be in by this week, but by a whole string of deadlines, pretty much constant ones for months on end.

The Pressure Cooker

I had first drafts for both stories already written, and an outline to base the serial chapters on, but it was a lot of writing to complete in a single week. The previous few stand-alone pieces I did for the tween/teen magazines had not come as smoothly as usual, so I was feeling anxious. Trying to think of multiple fictional plots, spoken in the voices of multiple narrators, overlapping one another for months on end was wearing my creativity a little thin. The quality of my work had dropped, and it weighed on my mind.

In fact, Continue reading