December 2011


What makes this post different?

  • It’s not about any topic I’ve mentioned before.
  • I’ve always avoided politics and this is political, although all the political parties, as far as I know, are on the same side.
  • By writing it, I admit that my country is not perfect. (More about that below.)

But:

This is an important issue, one that needs to be talked about and tackled. So I’m doing my bit. For those of you who don’t live here, I want to make two things clear:

  • Most of the ultra-orthodox Jews are against this behaviour.
  • Segregated buses run on specific routes and usually there are regular buses on the same routes. I’ve never ridden on one. No one polices the segregation; it is done by mutual consent.

Now read this.

This problem is at least as old as the state. Successive governments have turned a blind eye to it and let it mushroom, giving in to demands of the ultra-orthodox in return for support in other areas.

Why is it hard for me to admit that Israel is less than perfect? After all, no country is perfect. Why should Israel be any different? Because, when you feel the world is against you and believes all the lies that are bandied about, you want to counteract that with the good things, of which there are many.

I expect to be back to normal in my next post.

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Another blog post made me think today. This one came from Catdownunder:

There is a very, very small Indian community in Adelaide. It is so small that the sight of sari or turban causes people to look twice. It is all so very different from the area of London I lived in for seven years. I still miss the cultural diversity of London. It is quite different from the “multicultural” ethic here.
The sight of an Indian face at the checkout in the supermarket is even more unusual. There was a pleasant young girl in the “fast” lane yesterday. As people went ahead of me I could hear her dutifully saying the obligatory “Merry Christmas”. Some people would say “Merry Christmas” back. Others would nod, too busy to care about something said meaninglessly.
When I reached her and she said it to me I asked, “Do you celebrate Christmas?”
She looked surprised by the question and then admitted, “No, not really.”
So I said, “Well it is really much too late but would it be more appropriate for me to say I hope you had a happy Diwali?”
Her face lit up. “You know about that?” I do.
Now, instead of the professional smile there was a genuine one which reached her eyes as she said, “It was wonderful. Thankyou – and I really do hope you enjoy Christmas.”
If I happen to see her next Diwali I will give her good wishes at the appropriate time. I like it when that happens too.

My first thought was: how thoughtful of Cat. So many people seem to think that everyone must celebrate Christmas. Even if they don’t believe, surely they’d have a tree, give presents, gorge themselves. When I lived in Britain, people seemed to regard me as weird because we didn’t.

Then my thoughts moved on. If I’d been behind that checkout counter, Cat wouldn’t have wished me a happy Chanuka. How could she have known? Unless I’d gone out of my way to look different – maybe by hanging a big Star of David on my neck. But that would be rather in your face, like putting up a sign.

Sometimes I think it would be easier if all differences could be seen. That would avoid confusion and embarrassment. There’s another sign I’d like to put up. It would say:

Please don't go away. I really want to talk to you, but social anxiety makes it hard.

.

I have another three days of gorging ahead – on doughnuts and latkes.

Happy holidays everyone!

Yesterday’s post brought this interesting comment from David Rory:

Sorry if this is one of those daft obvious questions – but why?
I see lots of writers getting involved in this kind of exercise and I’ve always wondered what are they are meant to achieve?
I guess I just can’t get my head round the idea of writing as an exercise in maths or strength building, like lifting weights.
I genuinely don’t get the motivation.
Once I’m ready to write I just do it and go on to the end. The word count per day is just not an issue for consideration. When I’m in the flow it can be anything from 800 to 4000+ per day.
I’m not meaning to be critical at all. I am truly interested to know what benefit you see in this kind of exercise.

I decided my reply needed a new post – this one.

If you can write like that, without any extra motivation, that’s wonderful. Carry on doing what you do. I wrote my first novel in that way. I knew my characters, I planned the whole story and even divided it up into chapters. Then I just wrote whenever I had time. I had a message I wanted to get out and I was keen to do it as fast as possible.

After writing my novel, I sent it to friends who liked it and made a few cautious comments. Then I joined my writing group, where I received many less cautious comments and learned a lot about writing. I rewrote the novel and attempted to find a publisher but eventually realised that my story, despite being enjoyed especially by those who could empathise with the characters, wouldn’t appeal to a publisher.

Now, I have more of an idea of what works and less confidence. I wonder if there’s any point to all this writing. Will I ever be able to get my message out?

Also, I like to write short stories. I’ve had more success with them, at the writing group and in the wide world. But short story writing isn’t the same as novel writing. There’s nothing pushing you to continue. Once you finish a story, that’s it. You can start a new one or you can chat on Twitter, have your goes in ongoing Scrabble games, tidy the kitchen.

Exercises like 100k in 100 days provide the motivation. Participants can post their achievements. And they can discuss any difficulties they might have with others who are attempting to do the same thing and will provide support.

That’s my reply. Would anyone else like to comment?

If I have any chance of succeeding in my attempt to write a thousand words a day for a hundred days, it’s not enough to plan what I’m going to write. I also need to plan my day.

Here is my timetable:

From To Task
8:00 10:00 Write
10:00 12:00 Do my editing work
12:00 13:00 Social media, blogs, emails
13:00 13:30 Lunch
13:30 14:30 Housework
14:30 16:30 Write
16:30 19:00 Cooking and family time
19:00 20:00 Supper and clearing up
20:00 22:00 Ironing, washing

That looks good. I have four hours for writing. That must be enough time to write a thousand words. Right? Well, yes, if I have a thousand words ready to write. But what if I have to think a bit? About the voice, the character, the tense and all those other matters that need to be considered before starting.

Unless I decide to just plunge into it and then try writing the same story in different ways. That’s a good exercise I haven’t really tried. And it will up my word count. Hmm.

And what about all the things I haven’t included in the timetable: folk dancing, shopping, seeing people, reading (because it’s not enough to read in bed) and all the other things that might pop up. And weekends? Hmm.

EDIT: I forgot my writing group, which is a lot of work – polishing off the next submission, critiquing and attending the meeting every two weeks.

Oh well. That’s my plan and I probably won’t stick to it. But I’ll try.

That’s right, it’s Chanuka.

Or Hanukka, or Chanukah, or….

There are about twenty ways of spelling it in Latin letters, but only one in Hebrew: חנוכה

Like the festival of Sukkoth, it’s celebrated in Israel by religious and secular people alike. On each of the eight nights, we light candles (one on the first night, two on the second, and so on) in memory of the time the oil in the Temple lasted for eight days although there was only enough for one. And we eat doughnuts and other items made with oil. And we might play with a sevivon or dreidel or spinning top that will land on one of its four sides, which have letters standing for the words: (a) big miracle happened here.

And we sing songs. Young children love singing all the songs that go with the festival. So do I, but unfortunately I no longer have young children to sing them with.

Anyway, Chanuka is a fun festival, loved by all.

As for that other festival, here where it all happened is one place where you could fail to notice it. Unless you go to the Old City of Jerusalem, where it’s celebrated on three different dates by the different communities.

It’s funny how a blog post can grab your attention, even though it apparently has nothing to do with you.

I was immediately grabbed by this one, even though I don’t have schizophrenia. It discusses delusional thoughts and suggests that a better policy, rather than trying to get rid of them, would be to make friends with them and find value in them.

I don’t have delusional thoughts. I have negative thoughts. (Doesn’t everyone?) I’m told that they’re irrational thoughts. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) says, “Get rid of those irrational thoughts. Swap them for rational thoughts.

So, while I’m talking to someone, I’m thinking, “She doesn’t really want to talk to me. She thinks I’m boring.” CBT tells me to think, “No, that’s irrational. I can’t possibly know what she’s thinking.” But I find it hard to believe the new thought, so I go on believing the old thought. It seems quite rational to me, especially as she’s rolling her eyes / looking at her watch / saying, “Excuse me, I have to….”

Maybe (just maybe, because I know CBT has helped many people), that’s the wrong approach. Maybe I should make friends with my thoughts. Maybe I do seem boring. Maybe if I talked about the things I’m afraid of mentioning, because I’m afraid of being seen as “different,” I wouldn’t seem boring. Maybe if I just came out with it, instead of worrying whether what I want to say is worth saying, I wouldn’t seem boring. Just a thought….

Yes, I signed up for 100k in 100 days, another initiative by Sally Quilford. Can I write one thousand words a day for  a hundred days? I didn’t quite manage it last time, when I only had to write 80k in 80 days, so what makes me think I can do it this time?

Well, not a lot. But one thing I decided last time was that I need to do more planning beforehand. So now I have 21 days to plan. It doesn’t have to be a novel. It can be short stories or even non-fiction, but not a blog post on my own blog.

Any ideas? No, I think I have to come up with the ideas. Now where did I put that thinking cap?

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