Journaling exercise: confronting whatever is keeping you from writing, in writing

So, as I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve got some personal issues going on at the moment that held up my writing for a while. Basically, I wrote no new fiction for three weeks, and very little of anything else printable, which for some people sounds like nothing, but for me was pretty traumatic. About half the time, my brain felt like mush. The other part of the time, I felt anxious and stressed-out — which is not a state in which I can be very creative. I spent inordinate amounts of time alternating between staring at blank Word Docs and spacing out in front of article after article instead of writing anything of my own.

Anyway, one day last week, I was feeling particularly stressed out and recalled something I’d read about before about “writing away stress.” Continue reading

Posted by Anonymous

Okay, this is really not being posted by Anonymous. It’s plain ole me.

Writers live in the same world as the rest of you, which means we have to live with the people who read our work.

Yesterday Hevria began to post a series entitled “Truth And Dare.” The first post was by the outstanding writer, Chaya Kurtz. Entitled, “Backlash,” Chaya described the artistic desire to bare her opinions for all the world to see, but how when she did this, she suffered from the subsequent reactions that readers had. Today, sometimes she censors herself.

Anyway, it’s a fabulous post, and I recommend you read it, as well as the other pieces in the series.

When I commented on her post, a topic came up in the conversation I had with Chaya that has been on my mind lately — that being, is it right to publish anonymously or under a pseudonym? Continue reading

Jewish Fiction Editors Speak Out | A Cyber Roundtable


The Whole Megillah posted this extremely useful piece today, one that should be essential reading by writers of Jewish literature for the mainstream (meaning not-exclusively-Orthodox) audience. Still not up to posting myself, but I thought I should give my readers something to think about while I’m still on hiatus.

Originally posted on The Whole Megillah:

About our panelists:

Yona Zeldis Yona Zeldis

Yona Zeldis is the author of six novels for adults, including You Were Meant for Me, which came out from New American Library/Penguin in October, 2014.  She is also the author of 25 books for children and is the Fiction Editor at Lilith Magazine.  Visit her at:

Nora Gold Nora Gold

Dr. Nora Gold is a writer, activist, and the creator and editor of the prestigious online literary journal, Jewish Fiction .net. Her first book, Marrow and Other Stories, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and the title story was praised by Alice Munro. Gold’s second book, Fields of Exile, the first novel about anti-Israelism on campus, received enthusiastic praise from Cynthia Ozick, Ruth Wisse, Phyllis Chesler, Irwin Cotler, Steve Stern, Thane Rosenbaum, Naim Kattan, and Alice Shalvi. Dr. Gold is the Writer-in-Residence and an Associate Scholar at the Centre…

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Long time, no write

You might have noticed that I haven’t published anything in about three weeks. There are reasons for that.

Life is complicated. Sometimes that adds spice to my writing. And sometimes it pretty much shoots any attempts at writing at point blank range.

I haven’t posted in a while because of life. There has been more craziness in the Klempner household than usual, and that’s kinda saying a lot. There have been positive sources of craziness (mostly involving Purim), neutral sources of craziness (jury duty and household repairs that involve lots of sawing and banging), bad sources of craziness (small, cute people with fevers and our third battle with lice this school year), and very, very bad sources of craziness.

The number one very, very bad source of craziness is that a week before Purim, my sister and I learned of our father’s death.

The only writing I’ve really done since then has been letters to relatives and writing about my father and so on.

Right now, I’m in a bit of a muddle. I’ll be posting again soon, I hope.

Anyway, usually I close out posts with requests for comments. This time, I ask you do not comment. However, if you have a relative with whom you’ve been out of touch — and the reason is unrelated to actual abuse of any kind — I would very much appreciate it if you made peace with the person. Please do it in memory of Dovid Pesach ben Avraham Avinu. Thanks.

Orthodox Women Talk: Roundtable about media consumption

OWTHi, everyone! I know I pretty much never post twice in a day, but I’m hosting this month’s Orthodox Women Talk. Our panelists include:

  • Tali Simon
  • Melissa Amster
  • Ruchi Koval
  • Rivki Silver
  • Keshet Starr
  • Estee Lavitt
  • and yours truly.

This month’s question is this:

How much do you engage in popular music, movies and other forms of entertainment? What factors have contributed to that choice?

Wow! We’ve got a lot of variety in responses. Let’s see what our roundtable panelists have to say... Continue reading

My love affair with a book: Alan Morinis’s Climbing Jacob’s Ladder

My latest book crush is on Alan Morinis’s Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.

If you are a bibliophile, you’ll know what I mean: It’s that feeling you get when you finish a book and all you want to do is buy 5 used copies to hand out to people. You talk about it and think about it. You want to revisit it again and again.

In the past, I have felt this way about a few books: The Chronicle of a Death Foretold, comes to mind, as do Power Bentching by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, and Anger: the Inner Teacher by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (I admit to eclectic tastes).

In case you’re wondering about my newest book crush, here’s my Goodreads review of Climbing Jacob’s Ladder:

Climbing Jacob's Ladder: One Man's Journey to Rediscover a Jewish Spiritual TraditionClimbing Jacob’s Ladder: One Man’s Journey to Rediscover a Jewish Spiritual Tradition by Alan Morinis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Climbing Jacob’s Ladder combines memoir and how-to guide in an unusual way. This outstanding book details Morinis’s pursuit of self-awareness and -improvement through the tools of Mussar, an ancient Jewish strategy for character refinement. Unique among Mussar books, this relatively slim volume assumes little prior knowledge of Judaism, and is usable for non-Jews, secular Jews, and even those Orthodox Jews who are not already thoroughly immersed in the world of Mussar. Among self-awareness literature, Climbing Jacob’s Ladder stands out because it is practical, not touchy-feely or new-agey. I also very much appreciated that Jews and non-Jews of all stripes are portrayed with insight, a lack of judgement, and great sensitivity. For those new to Jewish thought and philosophy, this is a must-read.

View all my reviews

This leads me to a question for my blog readers:

Is there a book you’ve had a crush on recently? I want to hear about it, particularly if it is a Jewish book! Please share the details in the comments.