Just back from three weeks in the UK packed with fun and excitement. OK, it started with my mother’s stone setting, but even that provided an opportunity to meet family. Then there was a barmitzvah plus party – all very enjoyable. Then we met and stayed with a few friends of mine from university.

Then I had a week alone to stay with friends and do some interesting things. I saw the houses of parliament and tent city with Gill, and our journey back turned out to be quite an adventure. I saw Swansea Marina with Jane, and Swansea was the only place where I encountered heavy rain. (It always rains when I go to Wales. Either that or it always rains in Wales.) I visited a car pound with Tania, but hasten to add that she also gave me a quick tour of Bristol and took me to a cafe and a restaurant. And I attended another friend’s ballroom dancing class, and even joined in.

What I’ll remember the most are two things I don’t do enough at home. One is walking. D and I both enjoy walking. We always do plenty of it on holiday, but when we’re at home, it’s easy to find excuses: there are other things to do, there’s nowhere to walk to, we need a rest. It’s true we don’t have a river or sea or a large park near us, but we can drive to all of those and should do so more often.

The other thing I need to do more is talking. Talking is a bit of an effort for me, but it’s so satisfying and something I often miss at home. I was going to end by saying that some people are going to have to suffer listening to me, but really my conviction that people don’t want to hear me is one of the reasons why conversations are hard.

I’ll end, instead, with a Stephen King quote that I saw posted at some station:

If you go back and fix the past, make sure you don’t break the future.

That’s it for now. Next time, I might even post some photos.

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I love it when the two themes of this blog come together, as they do in this flash story by Tania Hershman. Have a read. It’s short and thought-provoking – just as it should be.

And remember I’ll be posting every day in April.

Nearly two years have passed since I started this blog. In all that time, I’ve hardly mentioned my home town. Not here, anyway. I did write a bit about why I’m here in a guest post on Tania Hershman’s blog.

Why not? I’m not ashamed of it. On the contrary. I am proud of it. Of the whole country and this town in particular. So much has been accomplished, despite attempts to block all achievements – from without and within.

I haven’t written about it, because where I live is not one of the two themes of this blog: writing and social anxiety. And because it’s not a neutral place, to put it mildly. It’s a place that arouses emotions. In the present climate, those emotions are often hostile and I don’t want to deal with them. My main reasons for being here are personal, and I’m not equipped to take on the rest of the world.

One of the things I’m proud of is the biennial Jerusalem International Book Fair, which has been held since 1963. This year, I did something there I haven’t done before: I attended some author interviews. They were fascinating. I don’t know why I haven’t done that before. These are the ones I heard:

  • Aaron Appelfeld: an Israeli author who survived the Holocaust as a young boy, separated from his parents. What I took away from the interview is what literature is not. I can’t remember all the list, but I remember the last item: literature is not politics. That doesn’t mean you can’t write about politics, he said, but you can’t use it as an outlet for your political views.
  • Robert Cohen, from Canada. He spoke very well and held my interest all the time. As I listened to all these authors, I wondered whether I could ever become an author in modern times. I can see myself doing readings and presentations. But interviews?
  • Marina Nemat: a Canadian originally from Iran. Wow! That was some interview.  The audience was riveted by her story and the way she told it, starting at the end: certain people used strong language to try to dissuade her from attending the book fair, but she came anyway. She doesn’t do boycotts.
  • Guy-Philippe Goldstein, from France, discussed cyber warfare. Software put Iran’s nuclear programme back by five years. What if organisations with sinister motives could do this? I suppose we have to read his book, Babel Minute Zéro, to discover his prediction.
  • Oren Nahari, an expert in Japan, told us a lot about Japan and the Japanese, starting with his meeting with the emperor of Japan.
  • Dr Yohanan Grinshpon, told some stories from India – stories in which abstract ideas become physical objects and real objects and people can be made from thoughts. I found the stories fascinating, as a person and as a writer.

Since getting interested in the business of getting published, I have discovered several published writers who genuinely want to help other writers to achieve this status. I’m going to mention four of them. There are others.

Tania Hershman has compiled a list of UK & Ireland Lit Mags that Publish Short Stories and often blogs about upcoming short story competitions.

Nicola Morgan has posted lots of helpful advice about writing and getting published.

Sally Zigmond is posting a ‘hands on’ short story tutorial.

Karen Gowen is holding a contest and has something to offer to everyone – published, non-published or reader.

I was never good at keeping things in. I did it too much and ended up hiding my personality – even to myself. Even this blog has been suffering from that disease. So now, all is revealed (well, maybe not quite all) in my guest post on place and writing that the lovely Tania Hershman kindly agreed to host on her blog.

Now that it’s all out, I need to add to my About Me page. In the meantime, I will say this: even though I live where I live, I will never intentionally blog about politics. Many people do this, some exceptionally well. I have another mission.

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