March 2014


That month is almost here again and I have to admit to not being completely ready and being involved in several other things. But I’ll manage somehow, as always.

This is my fourth A to Z year.

In 2011, I didn’t have a theme.

In 2012, my theme was Jerusalem. I showed you places in my home town and we learned about them together.

In 2013, I highlighted features of memoir writing and learned so much from your comments. One day, I will write a memoir.

This year, to celebrate becoming a published author (almost), and to learn more about the people behind the books, I’ve decided to write about…

Drum roll…

Authors

See you on Tuesday!

Yesterday was my blog birthday.

Five

Five years of blogging. When I started, I never expected to last that long. It’s been hard but fun and fulfilling. I wouldn’t have done it without your help and encouragement.

24 March, 2014

Hey! They remembered.

HappyAnniversary

Thank you, WordPress.

Yesterday was Purim in Jerusalem, one day later than in most other places because Jerusalem is a walled city.

Purim is the festival for fancy dress. It commemorates the time, in the ancient Persian Empire, when the Jews were going to be exterminated but were saved in the end.

In the walled city of Shushan, fighting continued through the normal day of Purim. Hence the later celebration in Jerusalem and a few other walled towns.

I went out to survey the scene. Fortunately it wasn’t raining, although the sky was rather grey.

Children and parents watched a show.

Watching a Purim show WatchingAPurimShow2 WatchingAPurimShow3

In Safra Square, a dubious-looking wolf towered above the crowds.

Safra Square

As I was leaving, I saw two Arab women going in to watch.

Safra SquareI wouldn’t have taken any notice of them, but I know people who don’t live here would probably be surprised.

Safra Square

Even babies were dressed up.

Babies dressed up

And cyclists.

Cyclist dressed up

And Haredim.

Haredim Haredim2

I also looked back a few years and pulled out this picture probably taken when I was four.

KindergartenQueenEstherOnHorseI’m dressed as Queen Esther, who helped to save the Jews of Persia. I don’t really remember dressing up then. But I remember that horse. It was the best part of the kindergarten. Every time the toys were brought out – usually outside in the playground – I rushed to bag that horse and loved bouncing up and down on it. It didn’t move much, but it did move forwards and I loved it.

Here I am again, in the middle of the back row, older and probably Queen Esther again:

Purim aged 8?What I notice most about this picture is how short I was, although I’m not short now. Short, young and innocent. A recipe for trouble.

The end of Purim marks the start of a month of spring cleaning leading up to Passover. Somehow, I always put it off until I find myself in a panic. Will this year be any different? I doubt it.

I remember three books I’ve read about bullying in the past. In all three, the victims were boys.

In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Piggy is an obvious victim. He’s obese, he wears thick glasses and he says all the wrong things. He remains that way to the bitter end.

Marcus, in Nick Hornby’s About a Boy, is a bit strange. I loved this book but was disappointed in the end when Marcus stopped being strange with no transition from one state to the other.

In Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult does a great job of portraying Peter, the boy who has taken as much as he can and gets his revenge by going on a shooting spree. (I’m not giving anything away because this happens right at the beginning.) When it comes to Josie, the plot becomes unbelievable, in my view, but that’s another topic.

Jeff Gardiner‘s Myopia, which I read recently, has a much more believable plot. It’s aimed at young adults, and so I had to get used to the style, but it works very well and definitely held my interest.

And yet I was disappointed when I finished it. Jerry, the victim, seemed too normal. The bullying eventually turned him into a hero. It all seemed too easy.

Then my vision cleared as I realised what my problem was. This story isn’t my story. It’s very different. But that doesn’t make it any less valid. In fact, it’s probably more typical than mine. And all stories about bullying serve a useful purpose in helping readers to understand what bullying does.

Well done, Jeff, for tackling this difficult topic in such a sensitive way.

***

Writing the above list made me realise that I’ve never read a book about a girl who is bullied. Have you? Can you recommend one?

If you follow my blog, you will have seen this story when I posted it last year, but I’m delighted that Morgen Bailey has now posted it on her blog, here.

Jodie Llewellyn asks this question today:

As a writer, what do you fear the most?

Fifty-three writers, so far, have responded with their fears. Clearly writers fear a lot and want to express those fears.

I could have responded, too. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to talk about fears and I don’t want to think about them.

It’s not that I think I’m a perfect writer. Far from it. I know I have plenty to learn; probably always will.

But if I concentrate on fears, I will never succeed. If I don’t believe in my ability to reach my goals, then I won’t reach them.

I felt this way even before I knew I was going to be published. I saw all those posts by writers in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!, in which they list all their insecurities, every month. And I thought, surely by doing this they are perpetuating the fears. Because no one replies, “You’re doing fine; don’t worry about it.” The respondents write, “Me, too.”

And I still feel that way. I know that getting published is only a first step and I need to stay positive if I want to advance along the writing path. Which I do.

So I’m not going to join that support group or think about fears. I’m going to plod on, because I’m determined to get there.

Hands up those who want to banish fears and believe in themselves.

HandUp

No, this post is not about daleks. It’s about something real and serious. It’s about what the Israeli government is doing to a part of its population.

There. I said it. All those things you heard on the news are true.

NO!

But that’s what the sign said. I read it. I needed to walk along the String Bridge on my way from one errand to the next, this morning. I looked down at the area where yesterday a sea of black hats swayed in prayer and demonstration and there it was: EXTERMINATION.

20140303_122305

OK, so they don’t actually mean they’re being exterminated. They mean that what the government is planning to do to them will cause them to cease to exist as they do now.

And what is this evil government plan? The government wants to conscript all young people, including those who belong to the Haredi community. That doesn’t necessarily mean conscription to the army. It can also be for what’s called here National Service or what you might call Community Service. All the government is saying is that one law should apply to all. All young people should give two years of their time to serve the community or the country.

And probably, if those young people from the Haredi community are conscripted in this way, it will change the whole community in certain ways. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

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