I really did end up writing barely a word during the summer, but the moment that my kids resumed school, I got hit up for some pieces by editors who know me. The first one to run went up on Jew in the City last night. Click here for the link.
I’ll hopefully post again soon (maybe with haiku!) but first a confession: I have barely written a word since my kids started summer vacation.
If I start to talk about my feelings on this topic, there will likely be tears involved, and I’m not in the mood. Perhaps I’ll post about it later.
However, I did write something right before school was out, and it ran in Tablet Magazine last week. “Game Over” is a personal essay–a nice, short read–about playing board games on long, summertime Shabbat afternoons and how a recent losing streak revealed a bit more of my inner ugly than I would have expected. You can read it here.
Want to know how to surprise a friend, whether they are in quarantine across the country or one of your “far away/so close” neighbors who you saw daily in pre-quarantine days? Want to cheer up someone totally alone in their home due to COVID-19?
SEND THEM SNAIL MAIL.
Last week, I had done some coloring of “color yourself” postcards my daughter had, and then sent off little haikus on them to some people who thought would appreciate them. I got texts and emails and phone calls from people thanking me for them, and that was yet another nice human contact (albeit remotely).
But by the end of three days of coloring, my hands were super unhappy with me.
I spent a big chunk of this week doing some deep cleaning and a lot of organizing. I found a slew of cards and old stationery! Now I can send off more little notes and haikus w/out coloring first!
Want to know how to write a haiku?
Usually, the first line is 5 syllables long, the second is 7, the third is 5. There are other configurations, and honestly, you don’t have to be strict with yourself. The tone is sometimes nostalgic or full of pathos, but often, they are funny.
Here’s an example of something appropriate for a neighbor:
I’m sorry I can’t
bump into you in the milk
aisle. We’ll schmooze soon!
(If you choose to use mine for your card, PLEASE ATTRIBUTE IT TO ME.)
If you want me (for free!) to help you workshop your first attempt at a haiku to send to a friend or relative, drop me a comment.
Me with some of my stationery find from deep in a file cabinet!
It’s almost Rosh Hashanah, which means a new Jewish year is ahead. It’s a good time for me to do some “accounting” for my professional life, looking back at this past year and also planning for the next one.
This past year, I’ve made over four dozen submissions (most of which were rejections). I got some personal rejections along with some of the form letters, several of which were encouraging. A few of the submissions are still pending–there’s nothing for me to do but pray and keep writing at this point. Continue reading
I decided to post today and realized that I hadn’t posted in months! I’m still researching the book I reported researching in my last post, but in between then and now:
- I attended a great conference hosted by the Association of Jewish Libraries. While there I got super exciting, top-secret news and then was told not to share it. (G-d-willing, I’ll be able to in a few months.)
- I figured out I couldn’t do the necessary research on that YA novel because my kids were home for the summer. I decided to shove the rest of the research off till fall.
- I got a wacky new idea for a Middle Grade novel and started writing it.
- I broke my arm. (Yes, my dominant arm.)
- I finished writing that MG novel, largely through voice-to-text and typing help from my husband and eldest son.
- I sent that MG book out to beta testers. (Thank G-d, they liked it, and I got a slew of useful suggestions to improve the book.)
- I got a rejection letter from the one agent who had the full manuscript of my adult-audience novel.
- The kids went back to school.
- I attended a great writing conference in Fallbrook at the library there.
- And now, because I got so many useful tips about my adult novel submission and my MG novel submission, I’m shoving off my YA novel research just a bit more. Hopefully, I’ll get to it in October, because my plan for the moment is to write that book during NaNoWriMo.
What did you get not get done this summer? What happened instead? What are your fall plans? I’d love to hear the answers to these questions!
While I’m deep in the querying process for my first adult novel and my first secular picture book, I’ve started to research my next book. I began with digging out some old interviews I did for an article I published about the Jewish experience of the Cold War, and have acquired some reading material which should help.
And now I’m doing interviews!
Since my university background is in anthropology, I spent quite a bit of time learning how to do interviews for research purposes. It’s a little different than interviewing for an article, because you ask many people similar questions, and then look for patterns and anomalies in those patterns. It took a couple interviews to get into the groove, but now I’m having a blast, and learning a bunch, too.
I love the way so many questions I ask lead to new questions, unexpected little journeys.
In case you are wondering, the topic I’m researching is living under Communism as a Jewish person. I’ve got many female respondents so far, and many people from Russia or the Ukraine. If you are Eastern European, from a Central Asian republic, or male, who was born before 1984 (so you have some memory from before the fall of the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact), and you would like to be interviewed, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.