New Look

Am thinking about buying my domain name. Have also added my name because it’s visible through plenty of my links, and since this is a professional space, more or less. So hello, everyone, my name is now above, and if you feel like googling me, you’ll find some of my published stuff!

Is there anything anyone here would want more of? Writing prompts, continuing stories, writing about writing, non-fiction?

Advertisements

5 Years of This

This may be a bit of a sentimental post. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
It’s been five years. Five years since I opened this blog. In the past five years I’ve been diagnosed, medicated, enrolled, hired, accepted to, rejected, published – I’ve taken leave, applied, worked, written, studied, shared, departed, arrived at, met, said goodbye, recovered, relapsed, rerecovered, stuck to, made decisions, danced, drank, experimented, read, played, traveled, become. The actives outweigh the passives, all in all.

I don’t regret. It’s not easy, and it takes an active decision not to, but I don’t regret.

In the next week or two, I will be published in my first ever book – e-book first, then physical book. I will be linking here, of course. I will also continue posting fiction as often as I can. I won’t promise to be less sporadic than I’ve been recently, because, well, I know it’s pointless to make a promise I can’t keep. I can promise to try to post more – but I have also just received an acceptance to an internship position, and that and three intense courses at school may keep me pretty busy. Still, I’ve got some posts from this month of writing challenges that I will continue letting out slowly, and hopefully you will enjoy the mediocrity that comes of play as well as the more shining moments that come of experimenting with bizarre prompts.

Five years. Hard to believe.

Frivolicking, a writers’ retreat

Swamping a small space inside an inn that is surely not in Surrey despite its name are several dozen frozen faces, dripping in the heat lamps. Masked in social-butterfly expressions, they eat brownies, pretzels and sip white and red wine. A few of the brave clutch bottles of cool green beer, proving their ability to think outside the box, which in this case is the social gathering they have gathered socially for.
A white man with white hair speaks from a podium to a room of mostly white faces. He is shrivelling up like an acorn’s shell left in the corner of the room during several seasons; the signs of decay are barely there but if you chip the exterior with a fingernail, all the little outside triangles will dust right off and you’ll be left with a wrinkled and broken thing that used to hold a seed of something great.
Polite claps. The writers flee as politely and unobtrusively as they can, in groups of three or four, pretending that their greatest desire isn’t to hide under the covers with their antidepressants, whether in bottle, pill, teddy-bear, book, television, or person form.
It is the beginning of what promises to be a gruelling, frightening and terribly – in all the disparate meanings of the word – illuminating two weeks

Found Poetry – Big Boggle

July 12, 2013 Big BoggleMy mother and I often play¬†Big Boggle¬†(5X5 tiles, not 4X4), which, for those who don’t know, is a word game in which you have a limited amount of time and you have to write down as many words as possible. Since we got to be too good at it, we decided a couple years ago to limit ourselves to four-letter words, eliminating the endless and obligatory three-letter words that show up way too often and make the game repetitive (tea, eat, ate, rat, art, tar, pat, tap, apt, etc.)

Tonight, for whatever reason, this list I made seemed to work very well as a slightly sinister, possibly political (class and gender commentary?) poem. It wasn’t on purpose, but as I was reading the words out, it just seemed to work out that way. So, as you see above: my first ever piece of found poetry. Read it however you want – with the crossed out words or without, across or top to bottom, it works out somehow. I’m quite proud of the bizarre and happy accident (less happy about sharing my atrocious handwriting, but, there you go.)

Introductions [in a post-ironic age]

I don’t quite know why, but I’ve apparently reached the point where I’m gaining new followers ever few days, whether or not I post. So – hi, everyone! I don’t now who you are, and you don’t know who I am, so let’s get some introductions out of the way. I’ll introduce myself, and my goals for how to keep you amused, and if you feel like saying hi and introducing yourselves in the comments, I’d be absolutely thrilled.

But instead of the usual introductions, which can be found at my About Me page, I’m going to list five things that are important to me, and why. Call it a journaling exercise. Maybe it’s just a late-night idea that feels good right now but will end up disastrous.

Important Thing number one: literacy. In the shape of books, in the shape of words on a screen, in the shape of the joy a child feels when she first realizes that the sign she’s seen across the street from her bedroom window since the morning she was brought home from the hospital reads “Abbas Hardware”. Literacy, the ability to read, the desire to read, and the access to life and knowledge that reading brings, is a relatively new priority in human history. More than any other technology, I’d argue that the printing press – invented in the 15th century – is the one that has had the longest-lasting consequences on humanity, and I am forever grateful for it. By being able to share and distribute ideas, we have developed into a people more humane in every possible way, which includes our direst deeds as well as our best.

Important Thing number 2: stories. Stories are everywhere. Did you tell your son about the coffee-machine breaking at work? Did your grandmother die yesterday, and did you run out of your town and into the forest and scream at the trees about how much you’re going to miss her? Did you see two brothers having a brawl in the street? Everything we experience, and the way we communicate it, is made up of stories. We tell stories about our lives, we tell stories about our histories, we tell stories about our opinions and why we hold them. Stories are the magical spark of life that brings two people closer together – what is pillow talk, if not mutual storytelling? – and can rip their relationship apart as well. There are two sides to every coin, but in my experience, people who are aware of the storyness of life, usually don’t exploit it. When they do, there is an element of the admirable fraud about them, a place inside them that seems to love the story for its own sake in addition to what the story can do for them.

Important Thing number 3: empathy. Since reading is my favorite thing to do in the world, and since my writing has been born of that love, I’ve found that empathy – as well as sympathy – are the most important tools for my trade. If that sounds cold… fair enough. You’ll have to trust me when I say it’s probably a defense mechanism and an attempt to not sound a) like a hippie or b) like a spiritual nutjob. Because I am neither. But empathy is important to me, and though I curse my emotionally roiling innards all too often, I wouldn’t exchange them for the world.

Important Thing number 4: comfort. A broad concept, yes, but it is important to me in the broadest sense. Comfort is something that I believe can be found and made for oneself. In a room that is messy, you can find the one spot that you can feel neat in, or, if you’re a messy person, you can find the one spot in a neat room in which you can feel sloppy and unhindered. Comfort doesn’t mean a certain kind of lifestyle; rather, it means making the life you live accommodating in the smallest, minutest of ways. Having a pair of pants that are soft and cozy and that you change into the moment you get home, for example. Or tucking the extra napkins you got at McDonald’s into your bag so that you’re never caught with a runny nose and nothing but long sleeves to handle it with. But comfort isn’t only physical. It’s also emotional, interpersonal. Comfort can be sitting with your friends, the people who you consider your alternate family, and being absolutely silent with them – without feeling awkward. Comfort is being able to tell a loved one that you’re sorry, but you have to cancel plans. Comfort is being able to be alone, with yourself, inside your head, and not want to scream and claw your way out of it.

Important Thing number 5: balance. Specifically, in this case, balancing introversion with the desire and need to lead a semi-extroverted life. Difficult, yes. Necessary, maybe. Possible, absolutely.

 

Well, there’s my ramble. New followers, if any of you are actually reading this and you aren’t spambots, either take up the challenge – what are five things that are dearly important to your life? Or, say hi in the comments, let’s be friends!

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.

Tin House – Master Plotto Student Edition – Second Publication

*Click here to read the story!*

I meant to share this with you guys quite a while ago, but I was in the middle of my second-to-last week of my first (very intense) term at Oxford. So, slightly belatedly, here it is. In November, I got emailed two very specific, quite weird prompts, of which I was to choose one. I had to write a thousand word short story within a week and submit it. The four winners of Tin House’s weekly Plotto competition competed against one another and… you guessed it, I won! The link at the top of this post will lead you right to the page with my story.