When you are a writer, inspiration comes from lots of unexpected sources. Maybe you consciously plot the main theme, but often the characters, setting, scraps of dialogue, reflections enter your sub-conscious without your even being aware of it.
Jerusalem has inspired me so many times that it is like a dominant character running through all my writing. Unique, it is like no other city I have ever lived in nor visited. But apart from the city itself, weighed down with prayers and dreams and spirituality, there are impressions on the periphery that you absorb almost unknowingly. There are pine trees outside our building, and if I stand on the balcony at night, the wind in the branches seems to be sighing tragically, yet in the early morning, the boughs are filled with birdsong.
On my early morning walks, I meet many of the same people every day. There is a kind hearted woman who feeds the street’s stray cats, notwithstanding the wrath of her neighbors. There is an elderly lady who walks her dog, chatting to it affectionately as they go, and stopping patiently for it at every tree. There is a young Asian girl, jogging in shorts and tank top no matter how low the 6 a.m. temperature – maybe she is someone’s care-giver getting in her exercise before her day’s duty begins. Then there is the couple walking briskly along the same route I take, who always smile “boker tov”. I don’t really know these people, but as we all live somewhere in Beit Hakerem and like to start our day early, we nod at each other and maybe make some comment in passing.
My walk takes me up the hill in Hechalutz, along Sderot Herzl and down Ruppin Street towards the Knesset, past Sacher Gardens. On the way I pass the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University and the Bloomfield Science Museum, outside which small windmills are whirring like a flock of silver birds flying. I take a short cut home that takes me down a track leading to a beautiful park and playgrounds, with its own promenade – a delightful walk through trees, flowers and fragrant shrubs.
All the time I am walking briskly, I am absorbing these sights and sounds. There are bushes of purple and crimson bouganvillea in some gardens and a few nasturtiums and red geraniums pushing up from the cold ground. I pass hotels with big tour buses already lined up waiting to take their passengers to beauty spots all over Israel. The drivers are already seated, smoking a cigarette or reading the paper while they wait. Some have their radios on, so I get bursts of music as I pass them.
This is early morning Jerusalem. Maybe I will weave some of the sights, smells and sounds into my next story. Even if I don’t, I know they are entering the fabric of my being, and making me proud to be living in such a special and spiritual city.
Happy writing. I’m always happy to hear your comments, and to help you with your writing problems. My latest book (no. 14) is “Searching for Sarah”” – available at discount by contacting me at email@example.com
Dvora Waysman 5 / 5 Karmon Street, Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem 96308 Israel