JUST STARTING OUT.

“”I am a writer!” When I dirst started writing, I read somewhere that one should say it to yourself every morning, as a way of validating yourself. As you come to believe it, you will have more motivation and success.

You don’t need to say it to anyone but yourself, if it feels like bragging, although lots of people say things like “I am a lawyer” or “I am a computer programmer” and no-one thinks it’s boastful. But “I am a writer” evokes a response in people that’s often hard to answer. “What have you written?” is the automatic response, and the truthful answer might be: “Not much!”

When I first began, I’d been writing ever since I was a child, but very little had been published. I had a desk drawer crammed with essays, half-developed short stories, some novel outlines and opening chapters I hoped to develop. All that had been published were some poems, some Letters to the Editor, and some fillers that I’d actually been paid for – not big sums, but useful to pay for postage and stationery. But I kept going because I’d read that success is where preparation and opportunity meet, so I took advantage of whatever opportunities came my way, hoping they’d lead to bigger things.

To be a writer, you must be optimistic. My favorite Chinese proverb is: “Keep a green tree in your heart, and perhaps the singing bird will come.” When inspiration does come, you need to embrace it and take advantage of it in every way possible. In the beginning, the only poems I got paid for were verses for a Greeting Card company, and they didn’t print my name. But real poems exist by the dozen, usually written in periods I felt highly emotional … when I thought I was in love; when I felt betrayed; when Nature turned on one of its spectacular displays in Spring – walking through the garden or a park and the air is fresh with a gentle breeze , and you see rows of daffodils and tulips in colours that make you gasp; or there is a border of freesias that perfume the air and send your senses reeling.

Roger White wrote: “When life touches us

Poems appear like bruises”…

Never a truer word has been written. The words should flow spontaneously, , being in love with the moment and letting it flower in the form of a poem.

The really 9important thing is to convince yourself that you are a real writer and repeat the mantra to yourself every night before you go to sleep, and every morning when you wake up. You’ll get there some day. So, in the meantime say it again: “I am a writer!”

I’m always happy to hear your comments, or to help you free of charge with a writing problem. My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me at discount – contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com Happy writing!

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WAITING FOR THE SINGING BIRD Many years ago I read a beautiful Chinese proverb: “Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.” I have spent my life trying to keep the green tree alive in my heart. Now I am two decades past my three score years and ten allotted by the Bible, and I think, in the distance, I can hear its first faint chirping. My life has been devoted to words. I have been writing since I was a child and first learned their magic. I remember I kept a book called “My Beauty Book” into which I painstakingly copied scraps of literature, quotations and especially poems whether written in English or translated. I would sit in the massive Public Library in Melbourne, Australia, my birthplace, with piles of books in front of me, and it was like wandering through an enchanted garden. It seemed to me that there was much beauty in the world, but to capture it you needed to be a poet, a musician or an artist. I used to think: if only I were a musician, I would compose great symphonies, rhapsodies with crashing chords that would let my listeners soar to heights of ecstasy. Alas, I had no musical talent. Then I would think: if only I were an artist. My canvas would show swathes of brilliant color … scarlet, emerald, indigo. I would portray the wonders of creation, and people would be inspired to open their eyes and see for themselves all the beauty that exists in the world and ugliness could be banished forever. Sadly, I had no artistic talent. Writing, however, was something else. I could string words together like a necklace of diamonds and crystals, so they shimmered like stars in the night sky. I would repeat a quotation of just two lines that became my mantra: “Writing is dreaming, head in the skies; Reading is sharing another man’s eyes.” I could dream and I could write. I could write about all that was lovely in the world in a way that readers could share my eyes. I would let them see what I saw; touch what I touched; hear the music that I heard; smell the perfumes I smelt and taste what I tasted, even if it was the salt of tears. I have nurtured and cherished this gift. Writing has been a therapy and a consolation, allowing me to put my life into perspective. As we grow older, we sustain many losses along the way. We lose people we loved, that is inevitable, but we sometimes lose our dreams as well. We can even lose love and that is the greatest loss of all. When that happens, words can be a comfort if you focus on: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Pain accompanies us as we go through life, but a writer can verbalise it in such a way to help it dissipate; and we can use words to help others deal with their sadness. We learn so much from great writers through the ages… those poets who reveal a touch of paradise; the story-tellers who can point a moral that perhaps will light the way for those of us stumbling in the darkness. I love words. They have never betrayed me. They have been my constant companion through life’s journey and sustained me through all the rough patches. Every year that I now live is a gift from God. How fortunate I have been even to be paid for what I loved doing. My purpose has been to try to enrich my life and that of others with the power of words. In that way I have kept the green tree in my heart. I have watched it don new green lace every Spring, have seen the leaves turn to russet and gold in the Autumn. It has been a shelter to build nests. And now, I think, the bird will soon begin to sing! ____________________

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WAITING FOR THE SINGING BIRD

                     Many years ago I read a beautiful Chinese proverb:  “Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.”  I have spent my life trying to keep the green tree alive in my heart.  Now I am past my three score years and ten allotted by the Bible, and I think, in the distance, I can hear its first faint chirping.

My life has been devoted to words. I have been  writing since I was a child and first learned their magic.  I remember I kept a book called “My Beauty Book” into which I painstakingly copied scraps of literature, quotations and especially poems whether written in English or translated.  I would sit in the massive Public Library in Melbourne, Australia, my birthplace, with piles of books in front of  me, and it was like wandering through an enchanted garden.  It seemed to me that there was much beauty in the world, but to capture it you needed to be a poet, a musician or an artist.  I used to think: if only I were a musician, I would compose great symphonies, rhapsodies with crashing chords that would let my listeners soar to heights of ecstasy.  Alas, I had no musical talent.

Then I would think: if only I were an artist.  My canvas would show swathes of brilliant color … scarlet, emerald, indigo.  I would portray the wonders of creation, and people would be inspired to open their eyes and see for themselves all the beauty that exists in the world and ugliness could be banished forever.  Sadly, I had no artistic talent.

Writing, however, was something else.  I could string words together like a necklace of diamonds and crystals, so they shimmered like stars in the night sky.  I would repeat a quotation of just two lines that became my mantra:

          “Writing is dreaming, head in the skies;

           Reading is sharing another man’s eyes.”

I could dream and I could write.  I could write about all that was lovely in the world in a way that readers could share my eyes. I would let them see what I saw; touch what I touched; hear the music that I heard; smell the perfumes I smelt and taste what I tasted, even if it was the salt of tears.

                                                   -2-

I have nurtured and cherished this gift.  Writing has been a therapy and a consolation, allowing me to put my life into perspective.  As we grow older, we sustain many losses along the way.  We lose people we loved, that is inevitable, but we sometimes lose our dreams as well.  We can even lose love and that is the greatest loss of all.  When that happens, words can be a comfort if you focus on: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Pain accompanies  us as we go through life, but a writer can verbalise it in such a way to help it dissipate; and we can use words to help others deal with their sadness.  We learn so much from great writers through the ages… those poets who reveal a touch of paradise; the story-tellers who can point a moral that perhaps will light the way for those of us stumbling in the darkness.

I love words.  They have never betrayed me. They have been my constant companion through life’s journey and sustained me through all the rough patches. Every year that I now live is a gift from God.  How fortunate I have been even to be paid for what I loved doing.  My purpose has been to try to enrich my life and that of others with the power of words.

In that way I have kept the green tree in my heart.  I have watched it don new green lace every Spring, have seen the leaves turn to russet and gold in the Autumn.  It has been a shelter to build nests.  And now, I think, the bird will soon begin to sing!

                 ____________________

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CREATING A MEMOIR

                                  CREATING  A  MEMOIR

                                  by  DVORA WAYSMAN

When we reach a certain age, often our children tell us it is time to write a memoir, a short history of our lives.  Usually the family are happy even to pay for the printing for you. They know, as you do, it’s not likely to be of interest to anyone outside the family circle, and it doesn’t need to be a great work of literary merit, but it is to be valued and even cherished among your children and grandchildren.  I am saddened that when my late father told me stories of Portuguese forebears a few generations  ago that he had heard from his parents, I barely listened.  Now I would love to know more about them, but there is no-one left to ask.  Even if young people have little patience to listen to these old stories now, the time will come, as it did with me, when they will realise that these past generations helped to shape them and will hunger for all the information that is available.

Why does one write a memoir?  There’s an old saying that to die without leaving  a record is to die without an inheritance.  In my religion, every Passover, throughout all the generations, Jews are instructed to tell our children the story of the Exodus from Egypt.  Our personal memoir also tells the story of where we came from and how we got here … to this place in life, wherever it may be.

We read and write memoirs to find meaning in life, and as a kind of cry for immortality. The research begins with a  paper chase,  often difficult when those who  know your history are no longer alive.  You collect photos, anecdotes, records of births, deaths and marriages, anything that will shed light on your distant roots.  A memoir is an impression of life, from which gradually a portrait emerges.  It is a testimony of the life you have lived told in the most compelling, vivid and brave way.  You should not only tell the events of your own life, but those taking place in the larger world around you that influenced your choices.  Instincts and desires are also part of the equation.

It’s something like the old song:  “What’s it all about, Alfie?”  When we write a memoir, we attempt to put our lives in perspective.  It takes perseverance to reach your goal of writing every day (if you’re really serious  about finishing the job), but a dream is like a boat.  To sail, you need some work and skill, but if you make the effort , your dream can eventually take you to a wonderful destination.  There will be painful stops along the way, failures as well as triumphs, setbacks and achievements.    Sometimes it’s not easy to admit to weakness,  but everyone makes mistakes and your readers will empathise with your candour.

In your personal memoir, you will be able to examine who you are and where you  sprang from.  It will be necessary to choose a road between honesty and discretion, so as not to hurt those in the family who may still be alive.  This record of a life lived will be a legacy that may help your descendants one day to charter their own journey through life.

Happy writing! I am always happy to hear your comments or to help you free of charge with any of your writing problems. E-mail me at:

dwaysman@gmail.com My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is now available direct from me.

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THE WRITING LIFE

 

There are two qualities you need to succeed as a writer –  the first is talent, the second is determination.  No, it’s more than determination, it’s compulsion.  Writing must be such an integral part of your life that if you are breathing, you are writing.

 

Talent is a gift and you will know if you possess it. It enables you to “share your eyes” so that readers see what you are seeing.  More than that, you share your other senses too, enabling them to hear, smell, taste and touch the world you have created for them.  If your words speak to them and you can make them feel joy and pain, smile and weep, feel empathy and compassion, then you are a talented writer.

 

But it is no good being talented if your words don’t reach others.  That’s where the determination comes in.  All writers face rejection, often on a fairly regular basis.  Don’t give in to despair and depression, you must search until you find the perfect match – the idea you want to write and the correct medium in which to express it.

Writing is only half the job, selling is equally important.   Craft  magazines such as “The Writer” in U.S.A. or “Writing Magazine” in the U.K  and of course “Poets and Writers”  are invaluable tools  to find markets for  your work, as is reading (and studying) as many papers and magazines as you can. You should look for the age group they are aimed at, the income level (their ads. will tell you that) and the problems and special interests of their target audience.  If you know, for example, of a problem shared by many in that group, and you have a solution for it, your article will be a sure winner, whether it’s on: “How to make your salary stretch further” or “How to prevent your kids trying drugs.”

When I undertake a major project such as a book (I have published fourteen ), I give myself periodic encouragement rewards.  The length of time needed to complete a book can be awesome, so during its writing I submit short stories (if I’m writing a novel) or magazine articles (if it’s non-fiction).  These are much easier to sell and the temporary triumphs are confidence-boosters that provide the stamina to keep working on the much longer projects.

 

Even with submitting articles, I don’t invest time in writing and researching the whole piece until I’ve sent out a few query letters.  Only when an editor, without obligation, indicates that he/she is interested in my idea, do I complete the work.  However, I do make my query letters as creative as I can and give the projected article a title as irresistible as I can make it.

As a teacher of Creative Writing for 35 years, I tell my students that the only way they will never be rejected is never to submit anything.  Then I remind them that every achievement in life begins with the two small words: “I’ll try.”

 

_________________

If I can help you with any writing problems, contact me (free) at dwaysman@gmail.com    I am always happy to hear your comments.  If you want to buy discounted copies of any of my 14 books,  contact me by e-mail.  Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JUMP RIGHT IN

How often have you heard people say: “I’ve always wanted to write”?  If you want something badly enough you’ll do it.    If you really want to write – and I mean so much so that it makes your teeth ache every time you enter a bookshop or library, then nothing should stop you. It’s challenging, but filling you with a sense of achievement when you finally get something down on paper.

Think of it like this: the first tryout doesn’t have to be brilliant (nobody is judging it but you)! It might not be the best thing ever written – at first. Or it might be – until you do it, who can tell?

Put simply, that’s what being a writer is all about – even when you’ve actually been published. You are the judge every time. Before you send it off anywhere, before letting your close friend read it, before  being surprised at how good it feels, before anything, you have to find that sense of achievement at having actually done it.  Then you can move on.

But you won’t get even close until you write something. It doesn’t have to be a book: just see what comes out.

It really is simple. You don’t need specialist equipment, you don’t need anything besides your ideas and a will to fashion them into something you can read back afterwards. Think about it: you wrote things at school, didn’t you? Essays, stories, compositions – call them what you will. In the end, what was put on paper was down to you and whatever was inside your head.  Nobody else’s.

Read lots. It’s the best way of getting an idea about flow, composition and structure. About dialogue and characters, about descriptions and scenes.  Join other writers in a writing group. If you can share your wishes with others who have the same desire, it will be so much easier. But it’s down to you – writing is not a team activity.

I’ve never actually heard anyone say:”Oh, I wish I’d been a brain surgeon” – and I’ve known some brilliant people. But the writing thing, I hear it all the time. To have that regret never fulfilled is a great shame. Because we all have it in us, if we desperately want to write, at least make a try.  Do it. Write something. Enjoy it. You might surprise yourself.

 

And if I can help you in any way, contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com – my advice is free, and I’m always happy to help new writers.  I have taught Creative Writing for 40 years, and have been delighted at how many beginners matured to published writers.  There is no thrill to match it.  Jump right in and give it a try!

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AN UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER

During my 35 years as a Creative Writing teacher, an exercise I frequently gave my students was to write about someone they met – even very briefly – that they have never forgotten.  One talented student started off his piece: “His face was lined with broken commandments.”  I loved that.  I always did the exercise too, and here’s what I wrote – a true story:

 

     THE FREE SPIRIT

 

                                          by DVORA WAYSMAN

She fascinated me from the first moment I saw her.  I had never seen a girl so – so flagrantly sinful. Her red hair hung to her waist; her skin was enamelled white with the Cleopatra-eyes outlined in black; her scarlet mouth pouted and her crimson fingernails looked like she’d been working overtime at the abbatoir.  She was everything I’d been warned against and – oh – I envied her desperately!

 

It was no surprise to learn that she was an artist’s model. There was really nothing else she could have been, other than a hooker, and in those bygone innocent days I had neither heard the word nor knew what it meant. Life classes where she would be completely nude. The students, male and female, would surround her and make sketches – I blushed to think about it.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

Her name was Vali. I learnt that by eavesdropping shamelessly in the Soho Coffee Lounge where she would hang out. It was close to my home, where I lived my sheltered, mundane existence with my parents and siblings.  St. Kilda, the seaside suburb of Melbourne, was considered very bohemian in the late 1940’s, but Vali was light years ahead of her time even for there. When she walked down Fitzroy Street, respectable matrons would mutter: “Shameless hussy!” and propel their daughters along at a faster pace. If they were with their sons, they would point to something on the opposite side of the road in an effort to divert their attention. Of course, it never worked – everyone turned around to take another look – the women enviously, the men lustfully.

 

For she was beautiful. The rich red hair was probably the only part of her that owed nothing to artifice, and it was magnificent.  Her figure was slim, but with full breasts unusual in such a young girl. And despite the macabre make-up, you could tell she had a fragile loveliness that was quite heartbreaking.

 

We were the same age – 17 – that’s what was amazing.  But my life had been a boring round of school, homework and family, while hers – I blushed even to think about it.  She was shocking!  She was wonderful!

 

Everything I had learnt about her was by eavesdropping. I wanted to be a writer, and I’d sit evenings in The Soho over a single cup of coffee (it’s  a wonder they didn’t charge me rent) with my notebook, waiting for life to happen. At some point in the evening, Vali would flounce in dramatically, followed by her train of admirers – young men who had to be artists (some of them wore berets and smoked pipes), and a few women who were decidedly strange.  One of them was an actress who dressed like a man and proclaimed loudly to anyone who would listen that she was “dying for love of Vali.”  I couldn’t work that one out at all.

 

Vali was always the focus of attention. She’d flick a finger and someone would rush to light her cigarette in its long amber holder. She’d drawl out a sentence in her husky, bored voice and all other conversation would stop. I tried to work out which of the group she favoured, but she seemed equally indifferent to all of them, although she’d always leave alone with one of them, and the rest would remain plunged in gloom. Maybe I’m exaggerating. The gloom was part of the Soho’s attraction. You could never see anything clearly for the lighting consisted of candles stuck in old wine bottles, and the ceiling was draped Turkish-fashion in billows of dark fabric, so that the whole place resembled a harem more than a coffeee lounge. The food they served was very nondescript (crumpets or toasted raisin bread), but the coffee – Turkish, expresso or capuccino – was really something, and the fragrance hung heavy on the air.

 

I spoke to Vali only once, but I’ll never forget it. I was lying on the sands of St. Kilda beach one summer Sunday afternoon and I must have fallen asleep, lulled by the lapping of the waves and the effects of the sunshine. When I woke up, she was sitting beside me, filing her long nails to cruel points.  I had never seen her in the daytime and was so astonished, I was rendered speechless. She wore a black 2-piece bathing suit, which was very daring in the pre-bikini era. Her whole body had been painted with a brown lotion we used on our legs in World War II when it became impossible to buy nylon stockings. She had left off the white enamel face

mask, and her freckles showed up, giving her a vulnerable child-woman appearance.

 

“Don’t I know you?” she asked.

 

I looked around to see whom she was addressing and was startled to find that it must be me.

 

“Kind of …” I stammered.  “From the Soho.”

She laughed. “Oh yes, you’re the little mouse with the notebook.”

 

I blushed. “I’m going to be a writer one day.”

 

“Are you? How funny.  I can’t even spell.”

 

“You’re so popular. You have so many friends” I said inanely.

 

“Not much longer. I’m leaving tomorrow.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

A tear squeezed itself out of the corner of her eye. I couldn’t believe it. Vali, with her enchanted existence, was crying.

 

“My lousy family gave me a one-way ticket to Paris. They claim that I’m screwing up their reputation.” She laughed bitterly.

 

“Oh no!” I was horrified. “What will you do there?”

 

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be OK” she replied. “I’ll go to the Left Bank – there’ll be plenty of  artists who’ll want me.”  She tossed her hair defiantly. “I’m glad to be going. I intend to have every single experience life can offer by the time I’m 30. After that, I’ll be ready to die. No-one will miss me, that’s for sure.”

 

“I will” I protested shyly.

She gave me a funny, crooked smile, got up and strode down the beach until I lost sight of her among the crowds.

 

I never saw her again. She’d be a lot more than 30 now. I still wonder about her and if she managed all those experiences.  Maybe they finally killed her – the promiscuity, drugs, who knows what else. But every time I go to Paris, and I’ve been a few times, I find myself in Montmartre. I wander around little art studios or sip coffee at a roadside cafe. My eyes scan all the faces, and I know that I am looking for a 17-year-old redhead named Vali, who wanted so much to taste life’s experiences.

 

I guess I’ll go on searching for her for the rest of my life.

____________________________

I’m always glad to hear your comments.  For new, aspiring writers, I have a large collection of magazines on the craft of writing.  Although many are very old, the advice in them is relevant today and very valuable.  I am willing to give a number of them free to any writers who could come to my home in Jerusalem to collect them.  Call me first (02 6513096) or send an e-mail to: dwaysman@gmail.com     Happy writing.

 

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     THE FREE SPIRIT

 

                                          by DVORA WAYSMAN

She fascinated me from the first moment I saw her.  I had never seen a girl so – so flagrantly sinful. Her red hair hung to her waist; her skin was enamelled white with the Cleopatra-eyes outlined in black; her scarlet mouth pouted and her crimson fingernails looked like she’d been working overtime at the abbatoir.  She was everything I’d been warned against and – oh – I envied her desperately!

 

It was no surprise to learn that she was an artist’s model. There was really nothing else she could have been, other than a hooker, and in those bygone innocent days I had neither heard the word nor knew what it meant. Life classes where she would be completely nude. The students, male and female, would surround her and make sketches – I blushed to think about it.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

Her name was Val. I learnt that by eavesdropping shamelessly in the Soho Coffee Lounge where she would hang out. It was close to my home, where I lived my sheltered, mundane existence with my parents and siblings.  St. Kilda, the seaside suburb of Melbourne, was considered very bohemian in the late 1940’s, but Val was light years ahead of her time even for there. When she walked down Fitzroy Street, respectable matrons would mutter: “Shameless hussy!” and propel their daughters along at a faster pace. If they were with their sons, they would point to something on the opposite side of the road in an effort to divert their attention. Of course, it never worked – everyone turned around to take another look – the women enviously, the men lustfully.

 

For she was beautiful. The rich red hair was probably the only part of her that owed nothing to artifice, and it was magnificent.  Her figure was slim, but with full breasts unusual in such a young girl. And despite the macabre make-up, you could tell she had a fragile loveliness that was quite heartbreaking.

 

We were the same age – 17 – that’s what was amazing.  But my life had been a boring round of school, homework and family, while hers – I blushed even to think about it.  She was shocking!  She was wonderful!

 

Everything I had learnt about her was by eavesdropping. I wanted to be a writer, and I’d sit evenings in The Soho over a single cup of coffee (it’s a

 

 

 

 

 

-2-

wonder they didn’t charge me rent) with my notebook, waiting for life to happen. At some point in the evening, Val would flounce in dramatically, followed by her train of admirers – young men who had to be artists (some of them wore berets and smoked pipes), and a few women who were decidedly strange.  One of them was an actress who dressed like a man and proclaimed loudly to anyone who would listen that she was “dying for love of Val.”  I couldn’t work that one out at all.

 

Val was always the focus of attention. She’d flick a finger and someone would rush to light her cigarette in its long amber holder. She’d drawl out a sentence in her husky, bored voice and all other conversation would stop. I tried to work out which of the group she favoured, but she seemed equally indifferent to all of them, although she’d always leave alone with one of them, and the rest would remain plunged in gloom. Maybe I’m exaggerating. The gloom was part of the Soho’s attraction. You could never see anything clearly for the lighting consisted of candles stuck in old wine bottles, and the ceiling was draped Turkish-fashion in billows of dark fabric, so that the whole place resembled a harem more than a coffeee lounge. The food they served was very nondescript (crumpets or toasted raisin bread), but the coffee – Turkish, expresso or capuccino – was really something, and the fragrance hung heavy on the air.

 

I spoke to Val only once, but I’ll never forget it. I was lying on the sands of St. Kilda beach one summer Sunday afternoon and I must have fallen asleep, lulled by the lapping of the waves and the effects of the sunshine. When I woke up, she was sitting beside me, filing her long nails to cruel points.  I had never seen her in the daytime and was so astonished, I was rendered speechless. She wore a black 2-piece bathing suit, which was very daring in the pre-bikini era. Her whole body had been painted with a brown lotion we used on our legs in World War II when it became impossible to buy nylon stockings. She had left off the white enamel face

mask, and her freckles showed up, giving her a vulnerable child-woman appearance.

 

“Don’t I know you?” she asked.

 

I looked around to see whom she was addressing and was startled to find that it must be me.

 

“Kind of …” I stammered.  “From the Soho.”

 

 

 

 

-3-

She laughed. “Oh yes, you’re the little mouse with the notebook.”

 

I blushed. “I’m going to be a writer one day.”

 

“Are you? How funny.  I can’t even spell.”

 

“You’re so popular. You have so many friends” I said inanely.

 

“Not much longer. I’m leaving tomorrow.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

A tear squeezed itself out of the corner of her eye. I couldn’t believe it. Val, with her enchanted existence, was crying.

 

“My lousy family gave me a one-way ticket to Paris. They claim that I’m screwing up their reputation.” She laughed bitterly.

 

“Oh no!” I was horrified. “What will you do there?”

 

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be OK” she replied. “I’ll go to the Left Bank – there’ll be plenty of  artists who’ll want me.”  She tossed her hair defiantly. “I’m glad to be going. I intend to have every single experience life can offer by the time I’m 30. After that, I’ll be ready to die. No-one will miss me, that’s for sure.”

 

“I will” I protested shyly.

She gave me a funny, crooked smile, got up and strode down the beach until I lost sight of her among the crowds.

 

I never saw her again. She’d be a lot more than 30 now. I still wonder about her and if she managed all those experiences.  Maybe they finally killed her – the promiscuity, drugs, who knows what else. But every time I go to Paris, and I’ve been a few times, I find myself in Montmartre. I wander around little art studios or sip coffee at a roadside cafe. My eyes scan all the faces, and I know that I am looking for a 17-year-old redhead named Val, who wanted so much to taste life’s experiences.

 

I guess I’ll go on searching for her for the rest of my life.

_____

Tel. & FAX: 972 2 6513096                            Dvora Waysman

e-mail:                                                               5/5 Karmon St. Beit Hakerem

ways@netvision.net.il                                      Jerusalem 96308 Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     THE FREE SPIRIT

 

                                          by DVORA WAYSMAN

She fascinated me from the first moment I saw her.  I had never seen a girl so – so flagrantly sinful. Her red hair hung to her waist; her skin was enamelled white with the Cleopatra-eyes outlined in black; her scarlet mouth pouted and her crimson fingernails looked like she’d been working overtime at the abbatoir.  She was everything I’d been warned against and – oh – I envied her desperately!

 

It was no surprise to learn that she was an artist’s model. There was really nothing else she could have been, other than a hooker, and in those bygone innocent days I had neither heard the word nor knew what it meant. Life classes where she would be completely nude. The students, male and female, would surround her and make sketches – I blushed to think about it.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

Her name was Vali. I learnt that by eavesdropping shamelessly in the Soho Coffee Lounge where she would hang out. It was close to my home, where I lived my sheltered, mundane existence with my parents and siblings.  St. Kilda, the seaside suburb of Melbourne, was considered very bohemian in the late 1940’s, but Vali was light years ahead of her time even for there. When she walked down Fitzroy Street, respectable matrons would mutter: “Shameless hussy!” and propel their daughters along at a faster pace. If they were with their sons, they would point to something on the opposite side of the road in an effort to divert their attention. Of course, it never worked – everyone turned around to take another look – the women enviously, the men lustfully.

 

For she was beautiful. The rich red hair was probably the only part of her that owed nothing to artifice, and it was magnificent.  Her figure was slim, but with full breasts unusual in such a young girl. And despite the macabre make-up, you could tell she had a fragile loveliness that was quite heartbreaking.

 

We were the same age – 17 – that’s what was amazing.  But my life had been a boring round of school, homework and family, while hers – I blushed even to think about it.  She was shocking!  She was wonderful!

 

Everything I had learnt about her was by eavesdropping. I wanted to be a writer, and I’d sit evenings in The Soho over a single cup of coffee (it’s a

 

 

 

 

 

-2-

wonder they didn’t charge me rent) with my notebook, waiting for life to happen. At some point in the evening, Vali would flounce in dramatically, followed by her train of admirers – young men who had to be artists (some of them wore berets and smoked pipes), and a few women who were decidedly strange.  One of them was an actress who dressed like a man and proclaimed loudly to anyone who would listen that she was “dying for love of Vali.”  I couldn’t work that one out at all.

 

Vali was always the focus of attention. She’d flick a finger and someone would rush to light her cigarette in its long amber holder. She’d drawl out a sentence in her husky, bored voice and all other conversation would stop. I tried to work out which of the group she favoured, but she seemed equally indifferent to all of them, although she’d always leave alone with one of them, and the rest would remain plunged in gloom. Maybe I’m exaggerating. The gloom was part of the Soho’s attraction. You could never see anything clearly for the lighting consisted of candles stuck in old wine bottles, and the ceiling was draped Turkish-fashion in billows of dark fabric, so that the whole place resembled a harem more than a coffeee lounge. The food they served was very nondescript (crumpets or toasted raisin bread), but the coffee – Turkish, expresso or capuccino – was really something, and the fragrance hung heavy on the air.

 

I spoke to Vali only once, but I’ll never forget it. I was lying on the sands of St. Kilda beach one summer Sunday afternoon and I must have fallen asleep, lulled by the lapping of the waves and the effects of the sunshine. When I woke up, she was sitting beside me, filing her long nails to cruel points.  I had never seen her in the daytime and was so astonished, I was rendered speechless. She wore a black 2-piece bathing suit, which was very daring in the pre-bikini era. Her whole body had been painted with a brown lotion we used on our legs in World War II when it became impossible to buy nylon stockings. She had left off the white enamel face

mask, and her freckles showed up, giving her a vulnerable child-woman appearance.

 

“Don’t I know you?” she asked.

 

I looked around to see whom she was addressing and was startled to find that it must be me.

 

“Kind of …” I stammered.  “From the Soho.”

 

 

 

 

-3-

She laughed. “Oh yes, you’re the little mouse with the notebook.”

 

I blushed. “I’m going to be a writer one day.”

 

“Are you? How funny.  I can’t even spell.”

 

“You’re so popular. You have so many friends” I said inanely.

 

“Not much longer. I’m leaving tomorrow.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

A tear squeezed itself out of the corner of her eye. I couldn’t believe it. Vali, with her enchanted existence, was crying.

 

“My lousy family gave me a one-way ticket to Paris. They claim that I’m screwing up their reputation.” She laughed bitterly.

 

“Oh no!” I was horrified. “What will you do there?”

 

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be OK” she replied. “I’ll go to the Left Bank – there’ll be plenty of  artists who’ll want me.”  She tossed her hair defiantly. “I’m glad to be going. I intend to have every single experience life can offer by the time I’m 30. After that, I’ll be ready to die. No-one will miss me, that’s for sure.”

 

“I will” I protested shyly.

She gave me a funny, crooked smile, got up and strode down the beach until I lost sight of her among the crowds.

 

I never saw her again. She’d be a lot more than 30 now. I still wonder about her and if she managed all those experiences.  Maybe they finally killed her – the promiscuity, drugs, who knows what else. But every time I go to Paris, and I’ve been a few times, I find myself in Montmartre. I wander around little art studios or sip coffee at a roadside cafe. My eyes scan all the faces, and I know that I am looking for a 17-year-old redhead named Vali, who wanted so much to taste life’s experiences.

 

I guess I’ll go on searching for her for the rest of my life.

_____

Tel. 972 2 6513096                                          Dvora Waysman

e-mail:                                                               5/5 Karmon St. Beit Hakerem

ways@netvision.net.il                                      Jerusalem 96308  Israel

website: http://www.dvorawaysman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     THE FREE SPIRIT

 

                                          by DVORA WAYSMAN

She fascinated me from the first moment I saw her.  I had never seen a girl so – so flagrantly sinful. Her red hair hung to her waist; her skin was enamelled white with the Cleopatra-eyes outlined in black; her scarlet mouth pouted and her crimson fingernails looked like she’d been working overtime at the abbatoir.  She was everything I’d been warned against and – oh – I envied her desperately!

 

It was no surprise to learn that she was an artist’s model. There was really nothing else she could have been, other than a hooker, and in those bygone innocent days I had neither heard the word nor knew what it meant. Life classes where she would be completely nude. The students, male and female, would surround her and make sketches – I blushed to think about it.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

Her name was Val. I learnt that by eavesdropping shamelessly in the Soho Coffee Lounge where she would hang out. It was close to my home, where I lived my sheltered, mundane existence with my parents and siblings.  St. Kilda, the seaside suburb of Melbourne, was considered very bohemian in the late 1940’s, but Val was light years ahead of her time even for there. When she walked down Fitzroy Street, respectable matrons would mutter: “Shameless hussy!” and propel their daughters along at a faster pace. If they were with their sons, they would point to something on the opposite side of the road in an effort to divert their attention. Of course, it never worked – everyone turned around to take another look – the women enviously, the men lustfully.

 

For she was beautiful. The rich red hair was probably the only part of her that owed nothing to artifice, and it was magnificent.  Her figure was slim, but with full breasts unusual in such a young girl. And despite the macabre make-up, you could tell she had a fragile loveliness that was quite heartbreaking.

 

We were the same age – 17 – that’s what was amazing.  But my life had been a boring round of school, homework and family, while hers – I blushed even to think about it.  She was shocking!  She was wonderful!

 

Everything I had learnt about her was by eavesdropping. I wanted to be a writer, and I’d sit evenings in The Soho over a single cup of coffee (it’s a

 

 

 

 

 

-2-

wonder they didn’t charge me rent) with my notebook, waiting for life to happen. At some point in the evening, Val would flounce in dramatically, followed by her train of admirers – young men who had to be artists (some of them wore berets and smoked pipes), and a few women who were decidedly strange.  One of them was an actress who dressed like a man and proclaimed loudly to anyone who would listen that she was “dying for love of Val.”  I couldn’t work that one out at all.

 

Val was always the focus of attention. She’d flick a finger and someone would rush to light her cigarette in its long amber holder. She’d drawl out a sentence in her husky, bored voice and all other conversation would stop. I tried to work out which of the group she favoured, but she seemed equally indifferent to all of them, although she’d always leave alone with one of them, and the rest would remain plunged in gloom. Maybe I’m exaggerating. The gloom was part of the Soho’s attraction. You could never see anything clearly for the lighting consisted of candles stuck in old wine bottles, and the ceiling was draped Turkish-fashion in billows of dark fabric, so that the whole place resembled a harem more than a coffeee lounge. The food they served was very nondescript (crumpets or toasted raisin bread), but the coffee – Turkish, expresso or capuccino – was really something, and the fragrance hung heavy on the air.

 

I spoke to Val only once, but I’ll never forget it. I was lying on the sands of St. Kilda beach one summer Sunday afternoon and I must have fallen asleep, lulled by the lapping of the waves and the effects of the sunshine. When I woke up, she was sitting beside me, filing her long nails to cruel points.  I had never seen her in the daytime and was so astonished, I was rendered speechless. She wore a black 2-piece bathing suit, which was very daring in the pre-bikini era. Her whole body had been painted with a brown lotion we used on our legs in World War II when it became impossible to buy nylon stockings. She had left off the white enamel face

mask, and her freckles showed up, giving her a vulnerable child-woman appearance.

 

“Don’t I know you?” she asked.

 

I looked around to see whom she was addressing and was startled to find that it must be me.

 

“Kind of …” I stammered.  “From the Soho.”

 

 

 

 

-3-

She laughed. “Oh yes, you’re the little mouse with the notebook.”

 

I blushed. “I’m going to be a writer one day.”

 

“Are you? How funny.  I can’t even spell.”

 

“You’re so popular. You have so many friends” I said inanely.

 

“Not much longer. I’m leaving tomorrow.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

A tear squeezed itself out of the corner of her eye. I couldn’t believe it. Val, with her enchanted existence, was crying.

 

“My lousy family gave me a one-way ticket to Paris. They claim that I’m screwing up their reputation.” She laughed bitterly.

 

“Oh no!” I was horrified. “What will you do there?”

 

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be OK” she replied. “I’ll go to the Left Bank – there’ll be plenty of  artists who’ll want me.”  She tossed her hair defiantly. “I’m glad to be going. I intend to have every single experience life can offer by the time I’m 30. After that, I’ll be ready to die. No-one will miss me, that’s for sure.”

 

“I will” I protested shyly.

She gave me a funny, crooked smile, got up and strode down the beach until I lost sight of her among the crowds.

 

I never saw her again. She’d be a lot more than 30 now. I still wonder about her and if she managed all those experiences.  Maybe they finally killed her – the promiscuity, drugs, who knows what else. But every time I go to Paris, and I’ve been a few times, I find myself in Montmartre. I wander around little art studios or sip coffee at a roadside cafe. My eyes scan all the faces, and I know that I am looking for a 17-year-old redhead named Val, who wanted so much to taste life’s experiences.

 

I guess I’ll go on searching for her for the rest of my life.

_____

Tel. & FAX: 972 2 6513096                            Dvora Waysman

e-mail:                                                               5/5 Karmon St. Beit Hakerem

ways@netvision.net.il                                      Jerusalem 96308 Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A STEP IN THE WRITE DIRECTION

Many people find the idea  of starting to write a book frightening.  I’ve heard it described as putting out to sea in a row boat, hoping you’ll eventually reach land, but aware of the dangers of storms and disasters on the journey.

But if I had to make a comparison, it would be to that of an artist standing in front of a huge, blank canvas.  He has a palette of wonderful colors that he can combine to make new, exciting shades. He can paint with dashing, bold  swathes or delicate strokes. As he looks at the canvas, his mind is filled with exciting possibilities.

So it is with starting a book, particularly a novel.  You are the only person who can write the book inside you, because even if it’s fiction, it is still made out of your beliefs, your prejudices, the jokes you laughed at, the songs you sang.  You can create characters from the essence of people you loved admired or lost, but still yearn for.

However, to go the distance , you must be compulsive. There is no guarantee it will ever be published.  The New York Times Book Review estimates that first novels have a one in ten chance. It’s a highly competitive field, but you may just be the one.

 

It differs from writing a short story, which usually focuses on one incident and its ramifications. A novel, with its 60,000 plus word length, you have the scope for a complex plot. You can span decades, or cover just 18 days . My novel “The Pomegranate Pendant” which became a movie “The Golden Pomegranate”, covered almost a century in Jerusalem. Another of my novels “Esther”. covered 40 years.

You decide what to reveal about characters in a particular place at a certain time. You can put any words or philosophy you wish into their mouths, any thoughts into their minds.

Aim for a minimum output of three pages a day – anyone can do that. With that quota, in just 90 days, you will have the first draft of an average size book.

Don’t wait for inspiration – that’s only 10% – the rest is perspiration. Writing is the best therapy. Use it to dissipate anger, to celebrate life, to express joy. Put conflict in your novel to keep the pages turning.

When finished, try to get a good agent. Even without one, don’t despair. Write a very creative book proposal – a one-page synopsis, a 1-page letter about yourself, and 2 chapters, and send it to the publisher of your choice.  If interested, he will ask to see more. All writers have rejections – just keep on submitting until someone likes it.

When it’s published, the thrill is like giving birth. You have created this miracle, and readers can share your eyes. And the long, lonely effort is rewarded.

Thomas Wolfe wrote: “If a man has a talent, and cannot use it, he has failed. f he only uses half of it, he has failed.  If he learns somehow to use the whole of it, has has succeeded and won a satisfaction and a triumph few men ever know.”

Happy writing. I am always pleased to hear your comments, and to help you with any writing problems. My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available from me at discount – e-mail: dwaysman@gmail.com

_________________

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STAY INSPIRED

During these terrible times, it is hard to be upbeat.  I have always saved inspiring quotes to keep me motivated, and would like to share some with you.

“It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creation.” Gustave Flaubert

“Don’t go to that boring, dusty computer without something in mind. And don’t make your reader slog through a scene in which little or nothing happens.” Chuck Palahnuk

“Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.”  J. K. Rowling

“The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible.” Michael Morpurgo

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” E.L. Doctorow

“Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted ‘First Readers.’ ” Rose Tremain

“Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained.  If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.” Esther Freud

“Be your own editor/critic, sympathetic but merciless!” Joyce Carol Oates

“Forget all the rules.  Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” Melinda Haynes

And from me – use all this spare time, to start the novel you’ve been thinking about for so long.  You’ve never had so much free time before, so use it wisely, creatively and joyfully. Happy writing!

If I can help you with your writing, contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com    I’ll be happy to help you with any problems, free of charge.

 

 

 

 

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ARE YOU READY TO SUBMIT?

You’ve finished writing your book.  Now you want to send it to an agent or a publisher. Take a deep breath first, and answer these questions:

WHO HAS READ IT?  You need to show it to a few qualified people for feedback – not your spouse, nor your family… the most opinionated person in your book/writing group might be the best person to ask to read it.

CAN YOU HANDLE REJECTION?  Most new books are rejected once or maybe several times.  It happens to the best of us – prepare yourself.

RESEARCH: Do the groundwork.  Read agent’s and publisher’s websites.  You can learn a lot about what they are actually looking for, and what not to send them.

ATTEND WORKSHOPS & LITERARY FESTIVALS: Some have one-to-one sessions with agents and publishers that are very valuable contacts.

CREATE A LONGLIST: Keep an ongoing list of publishers whom you think might want your book. Sort into priority order & work your way down when submitting.

PERSONALISE: Think about what you want to say to each one. It needs to be different each time, you are not sending out a circular. If you don’t have several reasons for sending to that person, then they should not be on your list.

COVER LETTER:  Today it’s an e-mail. 2 paragraphs in this that tells the recipient what the book is about.   A synopsis – a one-page summary of the book and the plot. Sample chapters – 2 or 3 from the start of the book.  A bit about you – basic & relevant information – your expertise for writing on a particular subject; any prior writing successes etc. Don’t make outrageous claims (like it will sell as well as Harry Potter!). Don’t ramble on – be brief, polite and personal.

OK – YOU’RE READY:  Don’t expect an instant answer.  Wait 2 months and if you haven’t heard,  you can send a polite e-mail asking if they are interested.  No answer, move to the second choice on your list.

GOOD LUCK!  If I can help you in any way, contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com  I’ll be rooting for you.

 

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