Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

To be a hero

Following up on the tribute to RBG, it occurred to me, both as a writer and an educator, to imagine what is required to be a hero. What I know about RBG is that she did not set out to be one but achieved that status nonetheless. Her biography tells us that she was committed to working for others, being honest to herself and the rest of the world, and doing what was right.

Let’s assume that you decide at an early age that you want to commit your life to doing good deeds for your world. In order to get there from here, you must first learn as much as you can. Sources of knowledge are family members, religious leaders, educators, and endless books of all types.

We make a mistake when we narrow research to a very small field. No matter the discipline, learn as much as you can about as many subjects as possible. My experience suggests that truly learned people have studied fields ranging from astronomy to zoology.

Defining the scope of your heroism is the next step. If you want to be a national or international icon, you will probably need to distinguish yourself in politics, scientific research, or global humanitarian achievements. If your definition of heroism is more local than global, you may want to focus your time and energy on matters within your immediate space. That may be your block, community, town, religious group, city, or state.

There are numerous ways to make yourself known for good works. Teaching is one choice. If you don’t have the credentials to teach, schools of all sorts always need volunteers. And if education isn’t in your heart, there are as many volunteer organizations as there are diseases, causes, or political inclinations.

And if you choose to be a hero to your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew, that’s a major responsibility in itself. Carefully choose the words you utter. Do everything possible not to insult those around you. The kids are listening and inclined to imitate what you say and do. When you are unpleasant, unpredictable, and unkind; these are the phrases and behaviors they receive.

Most likely, few people wake up and declare, “I am going to be a hero.” RBG certainly did not. That doesn’t mean that we can be reckless or accidental about the messages we transmit. You may never know when a man or woman will one day think of you as a hero. Shalom.

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

If only

To my knowledge, I have never before wondered how it would feel to imagine how an inanimate object would feel if it were suddenly alive and capable of thought or emotion. It’s pretty ridiculous, after all, to wonder how your car feels when you get into it or how your shoes feel when you insert your feet. On the other hand (or foot), I have allowed myself the literary license to imagine what my new book would be experiencing if it had feelings.

There are good reasons for my wandering down this path. The book is the product of many years of the hardest work that I have ever done, other than teaching. It represents many hours of research, pages and pages of notes, and five edits once the book was completed. No, I haven’t lost track of reality. It’s my author frame of mind that causes me to wonder what the book would say if it were capable of speech other than its printed pages.

One message that has been delivered loudly from this item is, “I am your miracle.” It’s difficult to express how the word miracle became attached to this volume except that I worked on it for so long that at times, it was beyond comprehension that it would become reality. After that, the book is telling me to make it available to those who can benefit most from it. This is a long list and while I would love to have the identity of all those who fit into this category, I can only guess (and hope).

Although we are losing Holocaust survivors every day, some remain. Many who do are determined to tell their story, both to provide hope to those suffering in any way and to make certain that the tragedies of World War II are never repeated. Jews were not the only group of people who were targeted. Approximately two and a half million Russians were killed by the Nazis after Germany invaded the Soviet Union. And so, not only the Jews wish to derive hope from stories such as mine; but also, others share that goal.

If my book had the ability to speak, I suspect that it would also provide encouragement to those who seek to create a book or play or musical composition but do not have the determination or confidence to do so. Twenty years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be an author. Now I have two of my own books in print, one collaboration, and three more in progress. Never give up faith in yourself or your abilities. All you need to believe is to remind yourself that you have the initiative and the talent to proceed.

Finally, my book would be saying that I am entitled to feel the joy and gratification that I do each time I look at it. The majority of that joy is directly I attributed to the fact that I have succeeded in sending my message to those alive and remembered, that their memories are for a blessing. We shall never forget what they endured and for as long as God sees fit to continue my life on this planet, I will do everything I can to honor them. Shalom

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

Gifts

Imagine for a moment that you are one of those people who derive enjoyment and gratification from doing good deeds for others. That inclination may take any number of forms. It may be contributing to a particular organization – the American Cancer Society, the Parkinson’s Foundation, the Salvation Army – it doesn’t matter which one.

Beyond that, you may derive enjoyment from volunteering at organizations within your community. That may be a senior center, a pet adoption center, a zoo, or any other group representing a cause in which you firmly believe.

For the purposes of my fantasy, let’s imagine that you suddenly have unlimited ability to distribute good, either in the form of volunteering, donating, or anything else. You weren’t expecting to have that potential and discovering that you have it is both exciting and inspirational.

Today, I had the realization that I am in that position, simply by virtue of publishing the book that I have been occupied with writing for the past number of years. If you haven’t seen it, the book is:

Two papas: a tale of impossible Holocaust survival  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08G3PGK41/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_HHupFbW4BEP89.

While I am certain that I will hear from those who know me or have previously read my work, I have no idea whatsoever who will be reading what I have created. The internet and rapid distribution of publications have made that possible and I am grateful for that reality.

And so, if I have brought understanding, enlightenment, hope, or any other reaction to the readers whom I don’t know, this is my gift. Perhaps I have been so occupied with the way people whom I know will react to the book, I never thought of the others. But I have no idea who else will benefit in any way, either from scrolling through Amazon, word of mouth, or another medium.

Words are insufficient to express how happy this makes me. Call me naive that this is the first time that these thoughts have occurred. That fact would certainly explain why I feel that I have donated to the world in a way that can’t be measured in volunteer hours or cash contributions. Thank you. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Ethical dilemma

Relaxing in my recliner yesterday afternoon, I was beginning to feel guilty about the process of sitting there, doing nothing. You’ve just published a book, I reminded myself. There are numerous actions you can take to promote said book. A few people in your address book haven’t been told about it. You could always create a press release. And on and on it went.

Suddenly, I began to think about the Protestant work ethic that we learned and practiced, no matter what our religion, geography, philosophy, socio-economic level, or shoe size. The gist of that was that if you work hard, and are thrifty and efficient, you would be entitled to eternal salvation.

To those of you who are too young to have heard of the Protestant ethic, we were introduced to it when we were forming methods with which we would be living our lives. Laziness is not an acceptable option. Neither is wasting time. While my personal religious beliefs don’t allow for buying or working my way into heaven, it’s curious that I was feeling that I was committing some type of sin by doing nothing at all.

How do we get to such beliefs? One easy answer is that many of us make ourselves responsible for ongoing hard work and producing results – at all times. In other words, if you are relaxing, you are not accomplishing anything and that’s bad. In addition to working on promoting my book, I could be working on cleaning some clothes out of my closet, dusting, writing my next book, or beginning dinner. In other words, sitting on my chair with only my thoughts for entertainment was a mistake and something inherently negative.

Clearly, I need to redo this type of thinking and allow myself the ability to do nothing without benefit of guilt. But before I do so, I will still need to persuade myself that the Protestant ethic as I interpret it is obsolete or irrelevant.  I’m pretty certain that demanding activity and energy from myself is a reasonable expectation. But maybe, ethics, Protestant or otherwise, can and should be suspended in deference to peace of mind and self-preservation. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Musings

These are my thoughts after publishing what I consider to be a milestone/landmark book. It’s unrealistic to expect that anyone can completely empathize. My feelings are a combination of relief, ecstasy, closure, sadness and satisfaction.

When I began my research into the Holocaust and World War II, I did not do so with the intention of writing this book or any other. In fact, I was learning as much as I could to help the gentleman whom I helped write a biography as a veteran and retired law enforcement officer. But as I continued to read, I soon recognized that while I had no ability to change the past, anything I could contribute would have the inevitable effect of making my statement to the future.

As I prepare for the next book, (part of a trilogy), I must reevaluate my motives and desired outcomes. Commercial success has never been and will never be one of my objectives. Achieving a level of knowledge on my subject, however, is intoxicating. Because I learned so much in writing Two papas – a tale of impossible Holocaust survival, how will I grow or be more fulfilled by the next phase of my authorial journey? From this vantage point, growth and gratification are inevitable.

Although some say that we spend too much time analyzing the Holocaust, I don’t believe that it is possible to know or say too much. And so I reach a few conclusions:

The process of researching, planning and creating the next book will represent a huge positive process for me. My hope is that many will appreciate the work and learn something important from it.

When I stop writing for whatever reason, I will feel confident that I have done everything possible to live up to my life’s philosophy – to inform and to educate. If you are entertained, enlightened or inspired along the way, I cannot possibly ask for more. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Two papas – a tale of impossible Holocaust survival

Following is the synopsis of my new book, released this week. Book is available in paperback or Kindle format. If you enjoy the book, I will greatly appreciate your writing a review and sending the link to someone you know with whom you want to share my work. Here is the link:

Two papas: a tale of impossible Holocaust survival.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/BO8G3PGK41/ref=cm_cm_sw_r_sms_api_XUPpFb3XK9JNX

Two papas – tale of impossible Holocaust survivals is a twentieth-century story of hope, determination and vision. A baby girl is born in a Nazi death camp and she is hidden and raised by her two papas. They live through their Treblinka imprisonment and escape to begin a new life. Her partner will spend two years in a Warsaw attic to avoid Nazis who have destroyed the Warsaw Ghetto, making the city unsafe for Jews. Finally, they meet and find love in Soviet-occupied Warsaw. Together they relocate to Israel and create a family in settings that are removed from hate, oppression and terror. Their survivals become a tribute to faith in God, the powerful will to prevail and strength of the human spirit.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

You can do it

What is it about telling a class of first, second or third graders that I am an author that always results in a big reaction? That is absolutely not why I tell them. In all cases, I choose to tell my students a little bit about me so that they know that I am a real person, not a mannequin dispatched to supervise them.

Ages of the students determine the imminent questions. For the younger students I get, “Are your books in our classroom? How many books have you written?”

Older students will ask the names of my books or if I am a famous author. After that, do I have a book on the bestseller list and am I fabulously wealthy? My usual reaction is that if I were John Grisham or someone similar, I probably wouldn’t be teaching school.

My best guess is that I become as close to a celebrity as have or can expect to experience. If we were in Los Angeles or New York, that might not be the case. But my kids don’t have much chance of meeting someone famous. If my title as author may somehow make me famous, it becomes a major opportunity to tell someone that they know someone who has done the extraordinary of publishing books.

There are other possible explanations. Maybe, having written books distinguishes me from other adults. Or it may be that I now have new credentials that entitle me to review, edit or evaluate their work.

One day, I will have the right occasion to ask a student or two why they are affected by my author title. In the past, I have been told that students want to read my work. And I also believe that one or two have wanted to make certain that I was telling the truth.

Very often, I will add more info, that I am also a writer and editor. They will inevitably ask me to explain and I always do.

Admittedly, I am also creating a teaching moment. Any of you can grow up to be an author and now you can say that you met someone who did. All you need is a subject, the time to dedicate to your work, a good editor and the belief that you can do it. This is the most critical part – you can do anything you want in life if you believe in yourself and your eventual success. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Fiction

Because I’m hard at work on my first novel, I’ve had reason to spend some of my time on the differences between fiction and non-fiction. All of my previous work – books, blogs and miscellaneous editorial assignments – has been non-fiction. An easy distinction is to differentiate events that actually occurred versus those that were created. Whether it is the subject matter or a new set of discoveries, I am finding that there is more fact to fiction than I previously believed.

Let me provide an example. There are four major characters in my novel that takes place primarily in Poland during World War II. They are characters defined by extraordinary accomplishments and they overcome obstacles that few of us who are alive can imagine.

Although I develop their characters within the plot I have constructed, I now prefer to think of these characterizations as biographies. Yes, I realize that biographies require subjects who are alive or have been at some time in the past. But it’s much more gratifying, historically and authorially, to depict players in my book who could very well have existed. And if my purpose (at least one of them) is to commemorate and honor those deserving of recognition, why not believe that they existed at some time, whether or not in the geography of my novel?

As I run through the catalog of the literary works that I’ve digested, I subject that many included persons or occurrences that were actual components of these authors’ lives. In The Great Gatsby, (one of my favorite books) for instance, Fitzgerald generously alludes to parties that he had attended in Long Island, NY. Through those experiences, Fitzgerald intricately relates the greed, frivolity and corruption – all traces of reality that typified the Roaring Twenties of the US.

Because I’m also a fan of Stephen King, it may represent a more formidable exercise to find truth in his numerous creations. At the same time, King is fastidious about detail and I suspect that his work is founded in history and embellished by his incredible imagination.

No, I’m not positing that true fiction is impossible (or fictional, if you like). I’m simply suggesting that any decision regarding the genre of literary work may be a little blurrier than it may initially seem. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Help

If you have been following my blogs for some time,   you’re aware that I have been developing and writing a book since May of 2019. I’m happy to report that I have completed approximately 2000 words or eight typed pages. But like any other life landmark, it’s not easy and will probably continue to be formidable until it’s published.

Here’s where my readers and the rest of my world can provide assistance. Most importantly, please have the faith, either privately or out loud, that I will complete this book that is so important to me. It is a work of fiction and takes place during the Holocaust of World War II. Those who know me know that I have dedicated a good portion of the last ten years to researching and understanding this immeasurable tragedy, making it certain that to write about it is an important component of my learning process.

Joking with my very special, cherished niece, I reported that I had written approximately ½ of 1% of the book but was plugging along. She immediately responded that what I had accomplished was more than zero – a statement of confidence and encouragement that means a great deal to me.

When I told my students that I was working on a new book and had published two others, they always wanted to know if I was a famous author and did I write any of the books in their classroom. Without any trace of sadness, I advised that I was not a famous author but that my books were written not for fame but for the message they convey. And this truth is for any and all who inquire, that I don’t seek fame but to convey the hope and lessons derived from my studies.

If you encounter someone who is on the same path as the one that I travel, it makes a difference to add your encouragement. Please remain with me on my journey and I pledge to add updates as they occur. Yesterday, in fact, I enjoyed the warmth of our New Mexico spring and wrote 300 words while sitting in the sun.

Being part of a support team will be gratifying for all concerned. If you’re not writing a book but have an idea, now is the time. If that’s not your area of expertise, do what makes you feel gratified and grateful. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

If I could

If only I could make difficult things happen in the school environment – my job would be a completely successful journey. That’s quite a request, far beyond the area of reasonability.

One of my third graders sees words that don’t make sentences or sense. If I could, I would inject him or inundate him with remedial reading that would create comprehension.

If I could, I would repair another student’s glasses. It doesn’t matter if they have been broken one day, one week or one month. They are a distraction for him and impede his learning.

If I could, I would make certain that all of my students eat breakfast before coming to school. It’s easy to tell which ones don’t, regardless of the reason. It may be poverty, lack of discipline or simply an unawareness of the importance of morning food. The kids without adequate nutrition can’t wait until snack or lunch and petition for seconds.

If I could, I would be able to see bullying as it takes place, not after the fact. One student accuses another of bullying and the accused denies its occurrence. Do I believe the bully or the bullied? If I could have seen it happen, I could take decisive action.

If I could, I would magically transport my students to other cities, states and countries. We teach history and about cultures other than our own but wouldn’t it be wonderful to take them to Philadelphia and let them touch the Liberty Bell? What about a journey to California to teach them about sea creatures?

If I could, I would take them on a tour of the world’s greatest libraries. It’s one thing to understand the significance of the first printing press but quite another to see a building that contains many historic, irreplaceable volumes. If we need to persuade our students that there are worlds of knowledge out there waiting for them, what better place to start?

And if I could, I would convince my students that the world in which they live is safe. Right now, that’s as easily done as transporting all of them to Paris. The best that we can accomplish is to make them aware of methods to protect themselves and others while understanding the fundamentals of right and wrong. Shalom.