June 2008 Newsletter

Creating community for English writers in Israel

  1.  Shards
  2.  Your Publications
  3.  The Writing Life

1. Shards

  • WriteInIsrael mourns the untimely passing of Judi Widetsky of Tel Aviv, who added color, laughter and enthusiasm to many writing retreats.
  • Reva Mann, author of the best-selling The Rabbi’s Daughter is now reading manuscripts of memoir, essays and fiction. She can advise you on the publishing process. Contact reva_l@inter.net.il
  • Boston writer and teacher Joan Leegant, author of An Hour in Paradise, is looking for a furnished flat in Tel Aviv near the beach. Oct. ’08-April ’09. One bedroom, two studies. Please email Joan at Leegant@rcn.com
  • Tamar Ansh, author of four books and food columnist, is available to answer your questions about article writing, publishing contracts and more.  Email tansh@actcom.net.il
  • Leah Kotkes, features editor for Binah Magazine, is hosting The Writer’s Journey on Tues. July 15, 2008 at her home in Har Nof, Jerusalem. Guest speaker will be Vera Schwarcz,  Chair of East Asian Studies Program at Wesleyan University in CT.  Schwarcz is the author of Bridge Across Broken Time: Chinese and Jewish Cultural Memory.  She will lead a workshop on “The Craft of Memoir: How to Write Better About the Subject Closest to You.”     Kotkes will lead a workshop on “Story: Construction and Implementation.” For details, email Kotkes at lifework@012.net.il
  • On July 7, 2008 Shifra Devorah Witt will lead a writing tour to Kever Dan and Moshav Yesodot on “Shmitta in the Fields,” together with licensed tour guide Zipporah Malka Heller and international Shmitta expert Chava Rifka Landau. Pre-registration by June 30th. Call Shifra at 054-801-8483.
  • DCConnexions Magazine for Teenage Girls , a new teenage monthly magazine is looking for articles for 14-20 year olds. Articles or stories on friendship, self-esteem, leadership, peer pressure, etc. “Kosher yet open-minded.” email DMC2DAY@gmail.com
  • Asher Gelman (thedancingasher@aol.com) organizes open mike at Cafesito at 33 Bograshov. Contact him for details if you want to perform  poetry, prose, music, etc.
  • Mima’amakim is calling for submissions – “quality writing and authentic Jewish experience (up for serious debate).” Poetry, short fiction, visual art. Questions and submissions to Makim08@gmail.com
  • Mike Tannenbaum is running a writing workshop in Tel Aviv. “Nuts & bolts analysis of foremost fiction writers + participants’ own work.” Thurs. evening, 6-8. Call MIke at 03-604-3110.
  • Leah Kotkes has launched a website at www.lifework.co.il to promote Jewish women writers.
  • Arie meir has started “Speechless,” a public speaking club in Jerusalem. In Hebrew. Free. Tel. 054-318-5870
  • Reminder: Write a story 600-3,000 words that takes place in Tel Aviv  and submit it by July 31 to the anthology celebrating Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary.  Email Shelley Goldman at ang_lit.press@yahoo.com
  • Diane Greenberg leads creative writing workshops in Jerusalem (Talpiot).  Small groups begin throughout the year. Tel. Diane at 02-671-9546.

2.  Your Publications

  • Michael Loftus had an article published in the Jerusalem Post Magazine on  May 8th.
  • Shifrah Devorah Witt published Inside Secrets to the Craft of Writing: A Personal Guide to Actualizing Your Potential. The book includes over fifty writing exercises from a Jewish context. You can purchase the book and find out about upcoming workshops with Witt at Consciousliving@hotmail.com
  • On May 19, 2008 Idele Ross had an Independence Day article in The Detroit Jewish News online entitled “An American-Born Israeli.”
  • Mike Benn of Kfar Saba has published his three-part “A Moving Experience” in the last three issues of The Jerusalem Post Real Estate Supplement.  He also published a piece in the Jewish community paper of Perth, Australia.
  • Sarah Kreimer wrote an op-ed about Jerusalem for The Jerusalem Post on June 1, as a result of which she was interviewed by the new Jerusalem Bureau Chief for The New York Times.
  • Jessica Apple published an essay, “A Fortress Called Home” on May 29 on www.nextbook.org
  • Susan Susser had a story accepted at Bridges 13.2 “About a Kaddish.”
  • Sue Tourkin-Komet has 2 pages of  publishing accomplishments. Here’s a brief excerpt.  She had a poem accepted for publication in Exit 13 Magazine in New Jersey. Her essay “A Rectangular Day in the Neighborhood” will appear in The Deronda Review. Her artwork will appear  with two of her poems in The Annual Israel-Voices Poetry 2008 Anthology. Poetica Magazine has accepted her poetry for its next issue and The Matrix Literary Magazine of New Zealand published her essay on studying Russian at Jerusalem’s Beit Ha’am.

Send me your publication acceptances. It helps other writers if you spread the word about your own success.

3. The Writing Life

Each stage of writing has its difficulties. I, for instance, have to finish a book by the end of the summer and send it to an agent. The task seemed daunting, especially after the birth of my second grandchild, the success of the literary evenings at Beit Bar-Ilan in Jerusalem and my excitement to organize more, the growing demands of my day job at Bar-Ilan, my developing relationship with grandchild no. 1 and my decision to promote a good relationship with grandchild no. 2, a visit from my son and his wife from abroad, various smachot, funerals, unexpected visitors, yoga, shopping, gardening, socializing, private mentoring, my beloved Friday workshop, forty-five minute power walks,  and sweeping the ants from the living room floor on a regular basis. How could I possibly finish a book?

The task seemed daunting and impossible,  until I sat with my friend David Kurz, who does  organizational and individual coaching.  David taught me how to plan.  Planning is something I never learned in ninth grade when I did learn how to take notes and  type, two of the most valuable lessons I learned in school.  Planning is something you learn in the army, maybe, if you’re an officer, or if you’re an MA candidate in Business  Administration. Planning is something you do instinctively, if you have a few children who need to eat on a regular basis. But planning to write or complete a book?

After one planning session my anxiety dissipated. Rather than saying “Oy. I’ll never be able to do this,” I said,  “Hey. I can. And I will.”

Here’s how it works. First you state what you want to do (goal) by when (deadline).  In my case it looked like this: I want to send the completed manuscript of Bethlehem Road  to an agent by August 31st.

Then you make a list of all the tasks that need to get done in order to reach the deadline.  In my case it looked like this: Finish one story; rewrite four stories; arrange stories; finish the research by walking on Derech Beit Lechem; edit stories for names and addresses;  send text to printer; review complete text; send to agent.

Then you define a  time frame for each task.  This is such an unwriterly thing to do, but do it you must if you want to reach your goal.

What seemed like an impossible, daunting chore boiled down to only forty-four hours of work. Even if I was stingy, so it was only sixty hours of work.

Then David instructed me to make  a calandar for June, July and August. I crossed off the hours in which I work or have other committments. The empty white spaces were for my book project. I filled them in in three-hour segments. I highlighted them in hot green.  It was fun, but then came the hard part. I had to transfer these new book committments that had specific dates and times to my regular calendar, my yoman.  I balked.  David (david.kurz.ezrach@gmail.com) asked me if I was committed to my goal. I wanted to throw something at him, but instead,  I wrote down the committments in my holy yoman.

Planning goes against everything I ever thought about writing, but if I want to see my stories in a book, I have to plan, which means I can’t live with each story for six months and rewrite it twenty times and think about every sentence for three hours.  I don’t have that luxury anymore. Time is running out.  If I obsess about each story for another eight years, I will have too many hip pains to go on a  book tour.

See, I’m thinking positively these days, to get me through this last crunch. I’m thinking of the book tour for the book that isn’t  finished, that has no contract, no publisher, no cover.  I’m thinking of starting the tour in Omaha, Nebraska and wearing my hot pink Chinese jacket with a new pair of Italian slacks, purchased with this tour in mind.  In the past, I would call this kind of thinking  delusions of grandeur.  David has taught me to reframe my fantasizing and call it “goal setting.” Even appearing on Oprah suddenly seems doable, though I might need a new pair of shoes.

Goals and plans were never part of my repertoire, but they are now.

All of which is to say that I don’t have time for another newsletter this summer, because I will be busy doing what I say I want to do: WriteInIsrael.

Think of me while you’re at the beach or at a movie,  travelling through Spain or visiting family in the Berkshires.  I’ll be here in Beit Zayit at my desk until August 31st, when, according to my yoman, I can celebrate for two hours.

A joyous summer and good luck with your own writing goals.


About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
This entry was posted in Newsletter, The Writing Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to June 2008 Newsletter

  1. Judith says:

    How exciting and how inspiring Judy! Maybe someday when I grow up I can be like you too. Good luck and I look forward to reading the book–and seeing you on Oprah!
    See you in Sept.


  2. James says:

    Hi judy…
    good luck with the writing. Hoping the garden too brings inspiration! warm wishes from green, wet, windy luscious England!
    back in early july to keep the spinach & beans blooming…


  3. judith nusbaum says:

    I just learned of Judi Widetsky’s death. I met Judi in 1972 oh the first Dor Hemsheck mission.

    We served at the Israel Embassy in DC in the late 1990s, and after that we lost touch. I didn’t know that she was so ill. i would appreciate it if you would email me her obituary.

    Thank you.



  4. I look forward to attending the Creative Nonfiction workshop in August 2008. Great topic!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s