Tevet 2007 Newsletter


  1. January 28th Writing Retreat
  2. The new http://www.WriteInIsrael
  3. Jane Doe Buys a Challah
  4. Publication news
  5. Miscellaneous
  6. Interesting web sites
  7. My Writing Life: On Rejection

Dear Friends,

1. Writing About the Body

Response to the Dec. 24th one-day writing retreat on the personal essay was so positive that I am offering another one-day retreat at Kibbutz Tzuba. On Sunday, January 28, 2007 we will gather from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to write about the body (only those who have one.) For details and registration, go to my new web site www.WriteInIsrael.com Cyberspace is boundless, apparently, but space at the retreat is limited, so register early.

2. The new http://www.WriteInIsrael.com

I loved working with Tia Azulay to create my new web site. What you see today is only the beginning. I hope to turn the Resources page into a true resource for Anglo-Israeli writers. If you published a book in 2006 (or forthcoming in ‘07, ‘08) or if you are teaching creative writing somewhere in Israel, send me your web information and I will create links to your sites.

3. Jane Doe Buys a Challah and Other Stories

An anthology of 33 short stories by Anglo writers in Israel, published by Ang-Lit Press, had its coming out party at Beit HaTefutsot on December 29th. It was wonderful to see all the proud writers, smiling, wearing their “Author” name tags. Congratulations to Ruth Abraham, Sylvia Aichel, Shoshana Preiss, Judy Hammond, Barbara Abraham, Vera Freudmann, Jenni Tsafrir, Katherine Shabat, Nancy McClure Galli, Talia Shwartzberg, Francis Assa, Laurie Bisberg-Primes, and Leon Moss, all writers I have met over the years in writing retreats.

Please buy this anthology in your local bookstore. Congratulations, too, to the editors, Shelley Goldman and Elana Shap. Their next project is a collection of short stories (600-3000 words) set in Tel Aviv, to mark its 100th anniversary. Submissions from May 1, 2007, so start writing now.

4. Publication News

  • Judy Gray, Jerusalem, whose “Turning on the Jewish Lights in Europe” appeared in the winter 2006 issue of Women’s League Outlook Magazine of Conservative Judaism, has been asked to write another article for the same magazine.
  • Ruth Mason, Jerusalem, has a new, monthly column in In Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post week-end supplement, called “Life in the 50s.”
  • Linda Goldberg’s (Boston) story “Heads Up” was published in the Nov. 20th (29 Cheshvan) issue of Binah Magazine.
  • Sophie Judah, Hod Hasharon, who completed the Bar Ilan Creative Writing Program, will have her collection of stories, Dropped Into Darkness, published by Shocken/Random House in Spring, 2007.

5. Miscellaneous

  • New Writing Group: Michael Loftus of Mevasseret would like to start a writing group in Mevasseret or Jerusalem once a month, to workshop fiction and nonfiction. Phone or email Michael for details: Tel. 02-533-2306 ml.loftus@gmail.com
  • Techie Tip: Steve Kohn, a business writer from Ra’anana, who participated in my Dec. 24th writing retreat, uses a voice dictation system called Dragon Naturally Speaking. It records and types his words. As Steve says, this might be a valuable tool for other writers who suffer from illegible handwriting, poor typing kills, or arthritis in the hands. You can email Steve directly at stevkohn@netvision.net.il for details.
  • Evan Fallenberg: For a terrific article about Evan, my colleague with whom I lead three-day writing retreats, and whose first novel, Light Fell, will come out in January 2008, click the following link. http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/articles/2006/12/14/features/profile/fallenberg1215.txt

6. Interesting web sites

  • www.nextbook.org – the gateway to Jewish literature, culture and ideas
  • www.zeek.net – Zeek Magazine (online and print) is an independent Jewish journal of thought and culture, which features innovative wrietrs, artists, and critics
  • www.eve-tal.com – From Kibbutz Hazor, Eve writes for young people. She is an expert on writing about the Holocaust for children.
  • you are here: the journal of creative geography is calling for submissions until Jan. 20th for its Summer 2007 issue. You are here, an annual publication, focuses on Place, how Place is interpreted, experienced, and created. For submission guidelines, visit http://www.u.arizona.edu/~urhere

7. My Writing Life: Some Thoughts On Rejection

Being a writer enables me to continually deal with the issue of rejection. All writers, who try to publish their work, have to learn how to deal with rejection. I used to keep all my form rejection letters in a large notebook, until the notebook was full. How masochistic did I have to be? When I renamed the letters “clutter,” I was able to throw them out.

I was so used to rejection that, when I had a story accepted at Kenyon Review, I wasn’t sure I had understood the form letter. It came at a time when my rejection letters were becoming personal and encouraging. The KR acceptance letter was impersonal and dry.

I knew I was in trouble when I started preferring warm rejection letters to cold acceptance. The Kenyon Review acceptance helped me to keep writing, like any acceptance does, but when the issue with my story arrived at my Jerusalem home, no trumpets blew, no angles descended from heaven. I wasn’t invited to one talk show. Again, I learned that writing is its own reward.

Once, I received a two-page letter from an editor after she had kept my essay for nine months. It had gotten lost in some shuffle between Iowa and Florida and the editor was full of remorse and guilt, as well she should have been. Her letter, so warm, apologetic and complimentary, praised my essay. It took me a few days to realize that her letter was a rejection letter. I was angry and for five years rejected the rejecter. Today, I know this is not a helpful reaction to rejection, but then, when I was young, I believed in knee-jerk response.
Lately, I have avoided doing my own writing by pouring my energy into teaching. Teaching is the exact opposite of writing: You get instant feedback, usually from a crowd of appreciative, smiling folks.

Sometimes I think I must be mad to go on writing, when I could spend all my time teaching, but after a drought of 10-14 days, the image I confront in the mirror says Nu? And I know what I must do. I spruce up a piece for the umpteenth time and send it across the ocean to be read by some intern born in 1985.

When the rejection letter comes, I know I am supposed to send off the same piece immediately to another journal, but I usually can’t. First I have to curse the intern and the editor (if my piece got that far) who rejected me. That takes a week or so. Then I have to remind myself that I can write and have published, another two weeks. Then, if I’m not too busy teaching, weeding, planting, dancing, singing, polishing the silver, ironing, trekking, meditating, sleeping, reading, eating, scrubbing the windows, peeling Jerusalem artichokes, listening to friends, children, partner, writers, and cleaning each floor tile with a separate Scotch Brite until the whole floor shines, then, and only then, am I fortified to send out the writing again.

Hurray for writing that enables us all to learn how to deal with rejection!

Wishing you all a year of acceptance, joy, and good health,

About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
This entry was posted in New Writers, Newsletter, Publication News, Rejection, The Writing Life, Writing Groups, Writing Resources, Writing Retreats. Bookmark the permalink.

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