Hey OOTOB readers,
It’s been quiet on the blog lately. Maybe because it’s been really busy around here (a lot of travel) or maybe because I haven’t been struck with the muse. Figured I’d check in and say hi.
WHAT I’M READING
The ugly truth is that I’ve never actually trained to be a writer. I write, therefore I’m a writer (like “I blog, therefore I’m a blogger”). I’ve always felt that talent comes in two flavors: the kind no one can do but talented people; and the kind anyone can do, but some can actually do really well. For instance, cartwheels and the splits and eating cars (not recommended) would be in the first category; writing and speaking in the second.
I started blogging over four years ago and via blogging have hopefully become a better writer. But I’ve never been trained. I took the liberty of asking a cousin of mine who’s a published author and editor of a magazine what his training looked like, or if he was self-taught, and he responded: self-taught but with great mentors. Then he recommended a book on writing, which is a dog-chasing-its-tail proposition if I ever heard one. You know, in a good way.
It’s called On Writing Well by William Zinsser which is not a great title, IMO, but apparently the Bible on the topic. I really love it so far, especially because it was originally written in 1976 and has been updated many times, most recently about 10 years ago. The updates are cool to follow – what changed since 1976? What has stayed the same? It also makes me feel normal, to have this need, this drive, to put pen to paper fingertips to keyboard and exhale a message, a message that I want others to read, and that excitement, that fear, that need, is understood by the author of the book and its many readers. Feels nice.
WHAT I’M WRITING
The Book. My prayerbook that I’ve been working on for 2 years now – it’s on the precipice of going to print. There have been a few backlogs like needing someone in Israel to sign off on the proofs (to her delight, my 17-year-old daughter, who’s there for the year). Like fine-tuning the cover (props to a really good friend for helping with this). Like figuring out how many to print (and being told authors always think they will sell more than they do). Like a last-minute title switch due a book with my title being reprinted as we speak.
But as soon as they push “print,” hopefully this week, it’s a matter of weeks before they hit the stores. I’ll let you all know when it’s ready. Conversations with God: prayers for Jewish women. [Commercial warning] a great bat mitzvah, birthday or graduation gift – wedding gift too. Covers the life-cycle and all events in between. Daily, shabbat and holiday prayers, with a selection of psalms. Hebrew, English, and contemporary musings to make your prayers real. Coming soon to a bookstore near you! And available online at Amazon.
Also: The Ebook. So remember when I said that I’m lagging on the ebook of this blog, because I’ve changed and evolved? And someone made an amazing suggestion, to do it anyway and add my updates? I’m doing it. It’s about 20% done at this point. Will keep you updated on that too. Not sure if I should consider a print version. Thoughts?
Also: my next book. About my grandmother. This book will not be specifically Jewish but rather geared to general audiences. It’ll be called How to Live an Inspired Life, but I already know that titles change (cough). In it, I plan to weave the story of my Auschwitz-survivor grandmother, with whom I share a special relationship, into my experience and teachings from Judaism about how to live life to its fullest. I just started. Apparently it is harder than I thought to write long chapters. Yikes! But, I will persevere!
When am I doing all this writing? On Mondays. That’s the day I’ve designated for writing (and for Costco and for blogging and for clearing my paperwork…). Slow and steady wins the race. I wrote my first book on Mondays and airplanes, and it worked – and the ebook really is already written, it just has to be edited. I’m not great with long-term projects – I’m too impatient – but that’s my life so I will need to cultivate some more patience. Deep breaths.
WHAT I’M EATING
Still doing and loving intuitive eating, Some days better than others. Overall good. Weakest time of week: Friday night (duh). Weakest food item: carbs (duh). Especially sweet carbs, also known as cake and cookies. It’s like, with most foods I can do intuitive eating, because I have some, it’s good, I’m no longer hungry, I no longer eat. But with cakes and cookies, it is much, much harder for me to stop after I’m no longer hungry. So now I have a new thing: for the most part, no cakes and cookies during the week. Only on Shabbos. I will make exceptions if certain circumstances are in place: 1. I’m really hungry 2. There’s nothing else I enjoy that’s available (part of intuitive eating is not eating foods you don’t enjoy) 3. It’s portion controlled (I buy one muffin as opposed to a box of cookies).
The other interesting thing I’ve been doing is what I jokingly call “the davening diet.” I say JOKINGLY because I don’t believe in diets. Diets meaning things you do temporarily to get to a weight when you can go back off the diet. Davening means “praying” and it’s my way of ensuring I say my daily prayers before the day goes crazy and it’s too late. The rule I used to have is I had to say brachos – the morning blessings – before I ate or drank anything. But I often found I wouldn’t get to shemonah esrei – the main part of the prayer, also called the Amidah – all day. It only takes like 5 minutes, but it’s 5 minutes of focused concentration whereby I funnel all my hopes and dreams for myself, my family, my community, and humanity, upward toward God in a hopefully passionate appeal. No sweat, right? So you have to be in the zone.
Now my new rule is: no food or drink before shemonah esrei. It’s hard-core but it works. I love the feeling of going into my day knowing I’ve had my important talk with the Big One. I do find it necessary to clarify that I don’t drink coffee. Because I know all you addicts are thinking that.
Tata for now,