Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle · Writing, editing, editorial, philosophy

Why write? Why not write?

Having been in the writing business for almost ten years (although I’ve been writing for quite a bit longer than that, on a non-business basis), I’ve learned many things. My hope is to impart them to my readers, both to share wisdom and to prevent you from making the mistakes that I did.

When you have something to say, say it. Sharing information is cathartic and if you find someone or some entity that wants to read it, so much the better. One of the lessons that I’ve learned through a significant amount of experience is that you are not the same as the work that you create. In other words, people will like you and not your work. Or more importantly, it’s critical to understand that a lack of positive response to what you’ve created in no way diminishes you. It’s simply the taste fairy thing.

Now that I recognize the value of this medium, I’ll be adding comments much more often. If you want to see more of me and what I’ve done so far, my website is http://www.csscribe.com. Looking forward to hearing from you – Shalom.

 

 

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Only five

One of the more shocking realities about the arrival of Jews and others at concentration camps was the way that they were duped into relinquishing all of their worldly possessions. In some cases, internees were told that goods were being held for them; in other cases, they were simply seized.

This reality caused me to wonder about those items that I would choose to keep if I were forced to reduce all of what I own to five items. As I live in a home with three bedrooms, two offices, kitchen, dining and living rooms, the question is a complicated one. But the more I contemplated it, the more educational the question and answer became.

Before I go too far into my answer, I submit this to you as an exercise in determining what is most important to your life. The chances are good that these will be among the possessions that you treasure when you leave the earth; as a result, they will necessarily define and refine you.

Will they be items that you bought yourself or that were given to you? Will they be of substantial material value or strictly sentimental or nostalgic? To be sure, the number five could just as easily be ten or twenty and you would be faced with the same dilemma.

If you are at all like me, you will make a choice and quickly change it. Or you may make one decision immediately, followed by several that are not quite as clearly determined. It really becomes an interesting exercise. In my case, the entire process has to do with my mom, husband, kids and grandkids.

Those who opt out of the activity are entirely welcome to do so – no harm, no foul. But I strongly suggest that it’s an illuminating exercise. As of this writing, I have concluded that mine are a picture of my kids and grandkids; a large cut glass vase of great value to my mom; a necklace made from her wedding ring and – two that are still being considered. Take your time. You will likely find out more about yourself than you expected. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Babies and bathwater

Once upon a time, I wanted desperately to work for a healthcare organization that was and is doing remarkable, worthwhile actions for many thousands of people. This was during the time when I sought full-time, permanent employment, an endeavor that is no longer of interest.

After numerous applications and a few interviews, I succeeded at landing a position with this firm and worked in arguably the most wonderful, gratifying position of my life. One year and a toxic, immoral manager later, my dream job was over. All of this transpired about seven or eight years ago.

This week, I received an invitation from this company, the first email I have received from them since I left, asking me to do a fundraiser 5K that will benefit Covid-19 victims. While I never stopped believing in the company’s mission, I was dumbfounded that they allowed a corrupt manager to prevail.

Did I want to participate in an event that was created by an organization that did not intercede on my behalf? Does one situation delete the other? As one who seeks to help with Covid-19 patients and any other unfortunate souls, I am not sure that there is a decision, moral or otherwise, to be made.

Checking out is simply not an option. It amounts to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, an expression I haven’t heard in a very long time. One manager (who, by the way, left the company shortly after I did) doesn’t define the company mission, achievements, or 5K. I think I’ll do the walk and conclude that the act of helping others is vastly more compelling than my grudge over the dream job that perhaps, I could have handled more competently. We will probably never know. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Giving and receiving

Falling asleep one night in the recent past, it crossed my mind that writing this blog is very much like donating money to a favorite charity, with fewer lives saved. As strange a concept as this may sound, please allow me to explain.

We all have our favorite charities – local, national or international. For a large collection of reasons, the American Cancer Society is mine and I find it necessary if not fulfilling to donate to them whenever I have an opportunity to do so. In addition, I donate clothes and other items to Goodwill and contribute when I can to Red Cross and a few others.

None of us will ever know specifically what happens to our dollars. Some of the money is used for operating and administrative expenses while some goes to research and delivering care. It really doesn’t matter which dollar goes where. I simply do what I can when I can.

It’s exactly the same with writing. Except for those who like my blogs or deliver comments, I neither know who reads them or what effects they have. Maybe I say something to which someone can relate. Or maybe I have expressed a feeling or experience similar to that of another person. At the optimum, I may make someone feel better, smile or simply have some sort of positive impact.

This is quite a tantalizing thought for me. If I were ever doubtful about whether or not I would continue writing blogs, digesting that thought eliminates all of those doubts. So far, I haven’t had anyone objecting to or arguing with any of my observations and all of the comments that I have received are positive. Soon I will issue my 500th blog, a milestone but not a finale.

If you are one of those who have appreciated, liked, loved or enjoyed one or more of my writing journeys, I am so very glad. That idea feels almost as good as helping to eliminate cancer. Ultimately, my writing work does directly connect to that cure as earning money permits me to donate. But otherwise, I will imagine the best and hope that I will continue to educate and inform. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Changing hats

One of the statements/recommendations that I am always issuing is, if you truly want to do something, don’t allow anyone or anything to get in the way of doing it. No matter what or when, I continue to believe that particular message.

When it comes to following my own philosophy, however, I am having a much more difficult time. One of my very dear friends has recently suggested (urged?) that I must remove my editor hat and don my marketing beanie. As easy as it is to write and edit my book, making it materialize is much more difficult. In other words, it is probably past time to begin publishing my book.

Four edits have been painstakingly completed. I have conducted the research, identified a number of relevant publishers, checked out thirty or forty literary agents and found at least one whom I can and should contact. Somehow, I just can’t pull the trigger. It may be because I am not entirely certain as to how I want to proceed. Or it may simply be the lack of determination that the work is as perfect as I can make it.

When I self-published my first book, it was not difficult. It makes no sense that I have come all this way, with 200 books of research under my belt and I am ready to proceed. As an example, today I persuaded myself that one more proofreading trip is necessary. So far I have reread 25 pages and added 100 words.

You might want to make the case that this is the most important writing venture of my life, explaining my apprehension. Whether that should result in urgency or reluctance, only I can determine. But I must be true to myself, especially because I was quite definite about succeeding in my efforts by my birthday, a date that is almost here.

And so, I shall postpone the balance of the proofreading, contact the literary agent and ask God for intervention. To be sure, I haven’t arrived here without that participation. And it’s impossible to arrive at my publication deadline alone. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Kids and schools

It’s not safe. Kids can’t be allowed to return to the classroom. We need to put the students back in school. The teachers aren’t safe. The kids aren’t safe.

We have heard most of the opinions from virtually every side of this complex issue. As an educator, I have strong feelings about exactly what needs to be done.

Our priorities are the children and they must remain more important than anything else. Every consideration beyond that is interesting but not germane. The children need to be in school. If we must assemble very small classes with kids and teachers wearing masks, so be it. If we need to staff the schools with numerous site workers to ensure clean schools, so be it.

But the kids need math, reading, writing, history and everything else we teach. More importantly, kids need other kids. They need to run around the playground to play tag. And they need to be taught the rules of social distancing, handwashing and everything else that adults are doing. Let’s teach them the meaning of words such as virus, antibody, plasma and pandemic.

Spend whatever it takes. Kids must come first and as well as educating, we need protecting, loving and enriching. As far as my safety, I will take all possible precautions while teaching that protocol. If I am missing my kids, you can be certain that they are missing their teachers. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Now is the time

As we come to the end of our fourth month of quarantine, I see more people than I can count who are bemoaning the restrictions and whining about not having their usual amusements available to them. This reminds me of my childhood in Chicago, when I remember telling my mom each summer that I was bored. She would remind me that I could walk to the library, there was a park nearby or I should find something with which to entertain myself. Yes, I realize that many of you don’t have the time to become bored – children at home, working from home, etc. This does not have much to do with you.

Those of you who are in the process of telling anyone and everyone that you are bored ought to back up and identify the many, many pursuits to which you continue to have access. Just now, I sat in our back yard and listened to stereophonic bird chirping, watched a dove hang upside down to attack some tasty worms and seeds in a cylinder and witnessed hummingbirds squabble over a choice nectar access spot.

When I wanted to divert my attention from bird activity, the clouds are always a source for creative imagination. First I saw Shrek leading a team of dwarves; then it was a teddy bear perched on a mountain of mashed potatoes; finally, I saw a cloud-breathing dragon. Still not your style? A bit too ephemeral for your tastes?

Do some research on a subject that you have never studied. Find out why Marie Antoinette lost her head. Dedicate some time to identifying what artists have work in the Louvre. See if there are still some pen pal organizations out there through which you can begin a correspondence with someone from another continent.

If that doesn’t work, investigate things that you can create with avocados or bananas or basil vinaigrette. Your mind is your best resource and happily, it has no boundaries or rules. If you want to organize a food drive for disadvantaged local or global populations, it’s a terrific idea! If you want to make masks for your local urgent care center or hospital, better yet. But don’t waste your time or that of those around you with saying that there is nothing to do. All it takes is a bit of curiosity, action and the desire to expand your world, one day at a time. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Check your sources

Several weeks ago, I ordered a book written by the famous author and storyteller, Sholom Aleichem. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, think of Fiddler on the Roof and you are in the right space. The book that I acquired was a collection of Aleichem’s stories that were expansions of the Fiddler tale and it is filled with wisdom, suggestions and quite a bit more.

As you might expect, the stories center around Tevye, the central and arguably most memorable character in the famous play and movie. But Tevye is a man worth knowing for many reasons. He is forthright about being of humble means  – he works hard for a living and often worries about his finances. This status is likely exacerbated by the fact that he describes his wife as not very smart and they share seven daughters.

Here’s what I value most about Tevye, other than his unabashed and unending dedication to his wife and family. Tevye believes that a man is incapable of being believed unless he liberally quotes the Torah (the Bible or Old Testament), the Talmud (explanatory/descriptive commentaries on the Bible) and Rashi, a well-known and highly respected French Biblical scholar.

My best guess is that most of us don’t use these as resources for the majority of work that we create, share or publish. But there is a message that I truly appreciate. If you are going to make a statement or take a position, make certain that your sources/resources are entirely credible and legitimate. Although you may never use religious texts as sources for your work, Tevye doesn’t think that you can do any better.

Life was quite a bit simpler in Tevye’s time, as he drove his horse and wagon to town to sell his milk, cheese and eggs. But the logic is impeccable and irrefutable. If I am receiving my guidelines from God, I cannot imagine anyone who would be so bold as to doubt my credentials. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Record the present

Those of you who have been reading my blog for the last several years know that I often encourage those who are inclined toward writing to write whatever is in their hearts and spirits. Today I have another message. Take the time each day or every few days to write your thoughts and observations for the day, whether you see yourself as a writer or not. Years from now, you will be extremely glad that you did.

During a recent reorganization of my office, I ran into a collection of notes that I kept during my early twenties. It doesn’t matter how long ago that was but it suffices to say that I have experienced quite a bit of life since then. In any event, it was quite illuminating to read those notes.

Some of my concerns at that time are exactly the same as those that I have in the present. They consist of depositing good into the world, care for family and doing the best that I can at whatever I attempt. While I am not surprised to see those thoughts and priorities expressed, I am glad that I haven’t changed in the most important of categories.

Admittedly, some of the subjects have disappeared. At that time, I was dealing with a relationship that was one of the most significant of my life, one that ended sadly. But I was also wrapped up in the questions of whether or not I would ever love and be loved again, a situation that would ultimately be resolved. And so, some of those things that concerned us then will not do so now.

If you have followed my writing career, you know that my first book was a memoir that was developed in the spirit of sharing the numerous life lessons that I learned along the way. While many of those who read this will not wind up writing memoirs, I offer two thoughts.

The first is that your life and the progress you have made in it are worth preserving and sometimes suitable for sharing. But if you are not interested in a memoir, the notes that you keep will simply be useful for you. Some time in the future, it will be illuminating or valuable to think about where you were then as compared to where you are now. Take the time and you will be grateful that you did. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Dream big

As I’ve reported in the past, it always amazes me when I ask my students what they would want if they had vast amounts of money and they always say, “Lamborghini.” Never mind practicality or miles per gallon. This is the answer, no matter what age and no matter what school.

This crosses my mind now and then when I ponder the aspirations I have as compared to those I may have had twenty or thirty years ago. At that time, I wanted financial security and a group of items of miscellaneous value. By comparison, I think of what I want right now and none of it has anything to do with money or finances.

Clearly, in the midst of a pandemic, I seek good health, for my loved ones and for me. Beyond that, I hope to do some traveling, first to see my kids and then to return to Europe. You can easily argue that travel requires money and as a result, I am looking for the finances to make the trip. But that does not happen to be the case.

Beyond travel, I seek happiness for my children and grandchildren. My hope is that with some resolution to our virus, that will be available to all of them. What else is truly important? It’s not wealth or any of the advantages that it provides in terms of jewelry, clothing, real estate, cars or otherwise. At this point, I have all of those that I want or need.

And so it seems that our reliance on things decreases as our age increases. There are really no tangible things that I want and as I look at catalogs or in stores, I am at the point where I am attracted to this item or that one. But most of the purchases I find myself making are those of necessities or something that will make life a bit more comfortable.

At no time will I ever try to talk my students out of the Lamborghinis. In fact, if achievement, self-improvement and goal development are seen as necessities that will lead to the luxury car, very good. If not, dreaming big is always terrific. My dream for right now is that I will be able to return to the classroom to have the chance to encourage those dreams. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Growing

Most of us had the childhood event that included the purchase of something that was too big. Buying clothes that were a little large was smarter than buying things that fit right now because they would be too small in a week or month. And so, we learned the expression, “You’ll grow into it.”

Those who have been following my blog journey are aware that I have been working for over a year on a book that is more important to me than virtually any other effort I have undertaken. The subject of the book is the Holocaust and I frequently realize that the subject and its importance are so vast that I have scarcely a chance of thoroughly covering everything that I want to and that should be covered.

Yesterday, I realized that in the same way as I “grew into” clothes as a child, as writers, we find the way to “grow into” the projects that we undertake. Thinking about my earliest professional writing events, they were small-scale letters, emails, memos or notes. But with persistence, open-mindedness and more research than I have ever done anywhere, I find that I have grown into the book that I am writing.

This realization comes as an immeasurable relief to me. When you consider that over six million Jews were exterminated in addition to the many million who died while fighting in World War II battles, the subject has rightfully become the subject of thousands of books. My goal has never been to write a best-seller, landmark book or Pulitzer prize winner – most simply, I am doing my part to make certain that the Holocaust is never repeated.

For those who see projects of any type as too big, too important, too long or too anything else, I promise you that with hard work and sincerity, you will grow into that work. Beginning is the most difficult phase but not beginning is worse. Take aim and fire when ready. Shalom.