On Being Freshly Pressed

I started writing when I was fifteen. Oh, I don’t mean that I learned to write then. I learned to read and write at a pretty typical age. But an important part of the process for me has to do with the fact that I am bilingual. Although I was born in Los Angeles and my parents had no idea, at the time, that we’d end up moving to Israel, my father wanted his children to grow up speaking Hebrew and so from the time that my brother and I were born, he spoke Hebrew – and only Hebrew – to us, while my mother spoke English – and only English – to us. This doesn’t always work, apparently. It very nearly didn’t, with me. I understood my father, but until I was three years old, I would answer him in English, even though he spoke to me in Hebrew.

We moved to Israel when I was three, and I began to be immersed in the Hebrew language. I had to speak it, whether I wanted to or not, because I wouldn’t be understood otherwise. So I did. I first learned to read and write in Hebrew, although my parents both read me stories constantly, every night, in either Hebrew or English, depending on which parent was doing the reading.

My mother had to teach me how to read and write in English, on her own, with the help of little brown books with stick figures in them. I hated the lessons, for some obscure reason. I hated learning to read and write in Hebrew at school, as well. Curious, really, as I loved books and stories. I went to bed every night listening to audiobooks, and I loved being read to.

I did learn to read. And to write. First in Hebrew. Then in English. The reason this is important, is that I think that this order is connected to the fact that I also started writing creatively in Hebrew first. I wrote poems, as many an angsty teenager has. I wrote poems about burgeoning lust, love, trials and tribulations, about friendships and desires and disappointments, about my low self esteem and the way I felt I didn’t have a voice.

When my father died, when I was sixteen, I shifted over to English. Though I had become a voracious reader at the age of nine, with the discovery of the Harry Potter books, I began to read far more than ever before – my need for solitude and escape made me turn towards the imaginary worlds inside books. I began, tentatively, to write bits of things. Poems. Stories. Bits of characters. Nothing particularly coherent, though.

There was a self-discovery to this. When I was eighteen, I started this blog. This very blog, the same one that I have now, four years later. I had written in many diary-like blogs before. I had written and abandoned too many paper-based diaries as well. But this blog, I decided to use strictly in order to practice my writing. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I didn’t know what kind of writing I was going to stick to, if any, though for some reason I thought at first that I was going to try to be funny and witty. I thought I was going to try to comment on my life and write anecdotes about it. I have, and I still do, at times.

But that is not what this blog, or my writing, is really about. Of course, I cannot claim my writing is about any one particular thing, because it’s not. I am young, ridiculously so, and though I am continuing on my path to become a working writer, I also know that there is no single definition to that term.

What I do know, however, is that I cherish stories. Stories, to my mind, are where people can find empathy and relate to others. Stories are the way we communicate with one another on a daily basis, they’re the way we pass things along from one generation to another, and they’re the way we define ourselves. Stories are my lifeblood, they are the way mind works, and they are the reason I love language and words and books so fiercely.

Being chosen to be featured on WordPress’s “Freshly Pressed” page is an honor that I can’t really understand or contain, especially as the story chosen was one that – when I wrote it – I didn’t think was particularly good. It was okay, but it wasn’t one that I was (or am) very proud of. But a writer doesn’t get to choose what others see in her work. Part of what publishing my stories online is about is allowing them to be seen for what they are and to stand alone.

I want to welcome all the new followers I’ve garnered and to thank you for deciding to accompany me on my continuing quest to practice writing. What you’ll find here, most of the time, will be short stories or flash fiction. I will also occasionally write posts about my life, or things I see, although oftentimes I choose to explore those things in story-form as well.

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12 thoughts on “On Being Freshly Pressed

    • Most of us who have been FP’d find that it wasn’t our best work
      A huge “hear, hear” to that! In this case, I don’t believe the FP folks chose wrong. I know, I know, it’s all highly subjective, but it was a breathtaking piece.

      Awesome, too, was Ilana’s response to one commenter stating it was horrible and inquiring why she’d write that. My first (not shared) response was not so kindly, so reading her actual response was an excellent reminder how to respond to like questions in the future.

  1. Erin M says:

    Loved this post, Ilana! I love it when you share your creative work and I love it equally when we get a glimpse into your life, as in this post (not that nonfiction writing isn’t creative, too . . .). (And congratulations on the Freshly Pressed! *goes to check which story it is* *returns having found out*) xoxoxoxo!

  2. I love what you say about stories. “Stories, to my mind, are where people can find empathy and relate to others.” I wholeheartedly agree! Your stories are interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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