For a person who thought a goal was something that only happened in soccer, it was difficult to define my blogging goals when I started to blog. I just wanted to write and for months I hadn’t been writing. The blog format seemed a perfect framework for a blocked writer: short takes and micro essays. Then Lisa Rosenbaum, author of A Day of Small Beginnings (Little Brown, 2006) started a blog called The Write Stop at http://lprosenbaum,wordpress.com In her introductory post she explained that her blog would be a place where she would go when she had to stop working on her novel, “a place to stop for a short visit before returning to what we do.” This seemed so sensible and much more ambitious than my own blog, which became the place where I go to work. Rosenbaum’s blog is like a lounge where we rest from the real work. I wanted to adopt this concept. The only problem was I wasn’t doing the real work. I had no project from which to rest, to stop working, other than my blog posts.
That was my first reaction. Then I remembered that ever since February 2010 I’ve thought about writing a memoir of my bat mitzvah, something like Today I Am a Hot Flash: Celebrating Bat Mitzvah at Sixty-five. I’ve done the research, written notes and some scenes, but have not been able to commit fully, as in “My goal is to finish this book.” Last week when I searched my soul to figure out what was blocking me from committing to writing this memoir, I discovered Jeremiah. Yes, the prophet himself was ranting and raving, intimidating me into passivity.
Once I defined this block, David, my partner and coach, handed me a way out. He gave me Jeremiah written by Rabbi Benyamin Lau, one of my favorite Israeli rabbis. Even though the book is in Hebrew, I started reading immediately. Each page acted like a chisel, chipping layers off my writer’s block. By page ninety I was ready to write.
First I reread what I had written over the past twenty-two months. Not totally bad. Then I organized all the material – one notebook for the research, another for the writing. I want to declare that this stage of organizing the papers, filing the notes, slipping the pages into transparent nylon folders is empowering.
The next day while riding the #400 bus to my day job at Bar-Ilan, I came up with a possible structure. I wrote it down frantically on the back of a flyer for ballet lessons as the bus ground to a halt, stuck in a traffic jam near Ben Gurion airport. I didn’t care where I was or when I’d get to work because I had a map of where I was going. The memoir had direction, a beginning, chapters, an end. I was flying high.
Now I have a project. My goal is to finish the project. My brain is working again. It’s writing. Even as I sleep, it’s threshing the material. A kernel of an idea wakes me at 4:30 a.m. and before I even put on my slippers to walk into the living room to do a few yoga stretches before making my morning coffee and sweeping the floor reading yesterday’s paper cleaning the windows watering the plants and organizing my desk before sitting down in front of the computer to read all my emails and surf a little, I feel blessed that I have conquered my block, at least for today. Now my blog too can morph into an airport lounge, that liminal space between home and take-off where we cajole our faint courage to fly.