I’ve been relatively quiet due to some annoying Internet issues which may or may not be fixed in the foreseeable future, depending on the good graces of Bezeq and its technician.
In the meantime, here’s a post about the book, since I haven’t babbled about it in hours!
That is me, with a huge grin on my face, because I just found my book in Pomeranz Booksellers in central Jerusalem, on display right next to Rabbi Sacks’s “A Letter in the Scroll.” (Ahhhhhhh) (Have I mentioned that I am a huge fan of Rabbi Sacks?) (I am a huge fan of Rabbi Sacks.) (OMGmybookisnextohisinthestore) (Ahhhhhh)
If you happen to be in Jerusalem, drop by and buy a copy before the signed ones are all gone. 😉
And while I’m sharing pictures that make me very happy, here is another pair from a couple months ago. You see, my friend Jo happened to be traveling to Barcelona on business, so I was able to arrange a personal delivery of Josep’s signed copy, and a photographer to capture him reading my dedication. 😉
And also to have him sign my copy. Because I’m sentimental like that.
Also: this past Shabbat, a friend surprised me with a gift. We had Shabbat lunch at their house, and when I was walking out the door, he handed it to me and told me to open it when I got home so he wouldn’t have to see my reaction if I didn’t like it.
To say I liked it is a gross understatement.
Since the photo quality isn’t great: it’s three of the photos from Pomeranz, with the following written on it: “Lifelong dream= accomplished! May there be many more! Love, the Kavitskys”
Thanks so much, guys. It means a lot to me.
Anyway, the friend who gave me that picture, Mike, happens to be a writer himself, who is planning to start his own blog documenting his journey back to the USA for a year with his family. (Right Mike?!?! Now I’ve announced it on my blog, so you have to do it! 😛 ) When he was thinking about how to structure it, he asked me some questions about my own writing process, and I thought you might be interested to learn a little more about the “behind-the-scenes” of the blog.
When writing to a particular (and real) person, how do you prevent that from affecting the universality of your message? How do you avoid catering your writing and concepts expressed to that individual or type of person?
Well, part of the appeal of the letters, I think, is that there’s a balance of both… and the personal touch paradoxically makes them more universal and relatable. It changes the tone of an essay on what may be a huge, grandiose topic from a grave or arrogant “I am telling the world something of deep importance,” to a lighthearted chat between good friends.
I make plenty of personal references in the letters, making it clear that I’m really writing to Josep, not just using the “Dear Josep… Love, Daniella” as a frame for an essay. But at least with letters written specifically for the blog, I’m keeping the rest of my audience in mind. So for example, I’ll clarify concepts that I know he knows but others might not, either with a parenthetical statement or a footnote. Or, when I relate to a personal story, I explain it in the footnotes. Here’s one example of a footnote that both explains a concept that Josep and I know but other readers might not, and tells a personal story. And here’s another example. 🙂
I often use our personal correspondence, both past and present, as a sort of launching point for writing about a topic that I think both he and others might find interesting. For example, in my head covering post, I started off with an amusing anecdote about our correspondence, even adding a picture of a gift I sent him recently, and used that to launch into the topic. Another example is the Holocaust education post, where I started off by relating both to Josep’s experiences of learning about the Holocaust and mine, and connecting that to the Yad Vashem guidelines.
Are you concerned, while writing your letters, about maintaining a broad “audience” and trying to avoid offending/alienating potential readers? If so, how does that affect how you frame your thoughts and does it limit your sense of authenticity?
Aha, yes. Good question. 🙂 Yes, I definitely keep the sensitivities of my broad audience in mind and will word things carefully to avoid offending or alienating readers. That does limit me and my sense of authenticity somewhat… but it also forces me to think harder about what I’m saying and if I can really stand behind it, which can be a good thing. For example, I sent Josep an e-mail a couple years ago (before the blog) about “different kinds of Jews.” Since I am writing from my own perspective as an Orthodox Jew, and he knows that, and it’s a private conversation between the two of us, I didn’t feel a need to be so careful in my description of movements I disagree with. But when I set about the task of turning it into a blog post (it eventually became two!), I realized I’d have to elaborate a lot more and word things much more carefully if I didn’t want to get myself in trouble!
Conversely, though, sometimes I find the fact that I’m addressing the letters to Josep specifically somewhat limiting, too. For example, there has been at least one topic I would have written about freely, but chose to avoid because I know it might be sensitive for him on a personal level.
How do you dedicate the time necessary to make your writing succeed if you’re not being paid for your work? How do you pace yourself? What are some of your goal-setting methods?
Before I answer this I have to qualify it by saying that most writers are not like me in this regard.
Setting daily or weekly goals (in terms of amount of time spent writing or amount of words written) is a good method for pacing yourself and staying disciplined and focused… for most other writers.
When it comes to me, I write because I can’t not write. I write because writing is like breathing for me. It wasn’t that I sat down and decided to write a blog and maybe a book. It’s that I was overflowing with these letters and I couldn’t stop writing them even when Josep himself was not really able to read and react to them. Seriously. The blog was just a receptacle for material that was already practically leaking from my pores. Writing LtJ is not work for me, it is play.
So the answer is, I don’t “dedicate time.” I don’t set goals and I don’t pace myself. I just do it when I am inspired. The disadvantage, of course, is that sometimes I feel like I’m on the verge of running empty, and that the time will come when I’m all out of material. Well, it’s been a year and a half, I’ve written more than 120 blog posts, and haven’t gone more than two weeks or so without posting, so it hasn’t happened yet… 😉
But like I said, most writers don’t work that way. Almost everything I’ve ever read giving advice to writers recommends setting aside a specific time for writing every day and doing that and only that with no distractions. I’ve heard countless writers say that you can’t wait for inspiration and that sometimes inspiration comes while you’re already fifty pages in. That approach doesn’t work for me, it’s just not how I roll. But it may work for you.
If you’re interested in more of my thoughts about writing, I recently started a new blog called The Rejection Survival Guide, which you might enjoy. Be sure to check it out.