SHAPING A POEM

                              

                         

The definition of poetry that I’ve always liked the most is “emotion recollected in tranquillity.”  If no profound feelings are involved, then the words could more easily have been expressed in prose.  But sometimes prose just won’t do … the depth of emotion felt by the writer demands the poetic form.

The stimulus that inspires a poem is different for everyone, but you need to be observant and experience all your five senses, absorbing the sights,  sounds, taste , smell and tactile impressions you encounter.  Something is tingling inside you, maybe an excitement that you need to capture.  According to a record left by Wordsworth’s sister, he was thrilled to see the daffodils seeming to dance at Ullswater, but it took two years for him to write the poem we all learnt at school:  “I wandered lonely as a cloud…’His poems originated in stored memories.

Poems can come when we are joyful, dejected, angry, lonely, spiritual or loving. Your feelings color what you see and remember, and even though most subjects like nature, love, death, fame, war and the transience of human  experience have all been covered through the ages, your view can still be fresh and unique.  The subjects may be limited, but there are always possibilities to approach them in a new, imaginative way.

A poem is an intricate composition. There is the narrative poem, tied to events. A.E. Housman’s “Eight O’Clock” is an example. It moves you because it implies the public execution of an un-named man for an unspecified crime. A descriptive poem is different.  It depends on conveying a scene, a sound, a personality or feeling, although you can combine narration and description.  Many modern poets write persuasive  poems deliberately to change attitudes, sometimes using satire.  Although this type of poetry does not appeal to me, it often employs stark realism to shock the reader into changing his or her view on a subject.  Randall Jarrell, Allen Ginsberg and James Wright employed this kind of poetic persuasion.

How do you start to write a poem? Usually you put your feelings into words, jot down images, metaphors, alternate phrases. The days are long past when verse had to rhyme and you had to contrive artificially to express your thoughts. Sometimes beginning with a structured form, however, is the best way if you need that deliberate discipline.  Blank verse is an alternative, comprised of unrhymed lines, each line a pentameter of five metric feet. Each foot is an iamb (a 2-syllable unit) with the second syllable stressed.  Iambic pentameter couplets are also called heroic couplets.

Once when Somerset Maugham was asked how to write  a novel, he said: “There are seven rules to writing a novel.  Only no-one knows what they are.” I feel the same about poetry.  Most of the poems I have loved have been in free verse, not committed to a predictable pattern of rhythm, rhyme or stanza. Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams wrote in free verse.  This sounds as though it’s easy to write, but it’s only easy to write it badly. It may lack metrical precision but it should have cadence, with its own pace and rhythm.  You can even find free verse in the magnificent translated Psalms in the Bible, and you should read T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, a long poem of irregular stanzas and lines; some surprising rhymes as in “fingers/malingers; ices/crisis”.  You are always conscious of the poet’s change in mood, rhythm and vocabulary.

 When you write prose, your first thought is clarity.  With poetry it’s not always the most important choice. A certain ambiguity can sometimes enrich a poem. Also, you no longer have to start every line with a capital letter .e.e.cummings dispensed with them altogether.  Punctuation, too, is optional. If you wish you can let line endings and breaks between stanzas indicate a pause.

Naming your poem is like naming your baby. Bestowing a name is an act of magic, to give reality to a hope or wish to be fulfilled. You can dispense with a name in a very short poem like a “haiku”, but a name confers value,  Usually the title emphasizes an element of the poem.

Although I always loved poetry and memorized hundreds of lines, writing poetry came to me late in life.  Maybe, as we mature, we feel things more deeply.  All the emotions that bring tears to your eyes or joy to your heart are stimuli for poems.  When I turned 70, (21 years ago) the three score years and ten allotted by the Bible, it was a time of deep introspection, particularly thinking of dreams unfulfilled and how short a time was left.  It was truly therapeutic to verbalize this sadness.  I just let the feelings flow, and surprised myself with a poem:

                                              PAST REGRETS

          When autumn lays out her lush carpet

          Of scarlet and gold and brown

          I’ll think back to spring and summer

          And of all I let slip by.

          I had my chance,

          But so many times I hesitated,

          Afraid of consequences

          That may never have happened.

          We do not regret the things we did

          In this life, that passes so rapidly.

          No, it was when we failed to grasp the moment

          The one that never came again.

          To you who are still young,

          Take life with both your hands;

          Laugh and love, travel roads untrodden

          Or, like me, face a winter of regrets.

Let me know if I can help you (free of charge) with any of your writing problems. I am always happy to hear from you.

My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me: dwaysman@gmail.com at a reduced price. Happy writing.

                                   __________________

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                          THE JOY  OF WORDS

                          

                       

There is a beautiful Chinese quotation: “Keep a green tree in your heart, and maybe the singing bird will come.”  For me, the green tree stays alive because of the joy I get from writing – a gift that took root when I was a little girl of seven and had my first poem published in a children’s magazine.  Now, more than eight decades later, I have nurtured it through 5,000  published articles, poems, stories and fourteen books.

If you have an ambition to  be a writer, you should realise that talent alone is not enough. Determination is necessary, but what you really need is compulsion.  Writing must be such an integral part of your life that if you are breathing, you are writing. You want to share your eyes with your readers, and all 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 indeed a writer.

As a teacher of Creative Writing, I also taught my students to be salespeople because you need to learn how to get your words out to the reading public.  They must learn, as you did, sometimes to face rejection and not give in to despair.  My way was always to give myself periodic encouragement rewards.  When I wrote a book, the time to complete it and find a publisher could be awesome, so during the writing I submitted short stories or magazine articles.  These are easier to sell, and the temporary triumphs are confidence-boosters for the stamina you need to keep working on much longer projects.  Usually with articles, I suggest that students do not invest time in writing and researching the whole piece until they have  sent out a few query letters.  Only when an editor indicates that he/she likes the idea, should you complete the work.  However you must make your query letters as creative as you  can, and give the projected article a title as irresistible as you  can make it. I told my students that the only way  that they will never be rejected is never to submit anything, and that every achievement in life begins with two small words: “I’ll try.”

Joy in writing also springs from joy in reading. They are inseparable.  Time and again I travel back to the leisurely, masterful narratives of Somerset Maugham and Evelyn Waugh; revel in the humanity  and poetic descriptions of John Steinbeck; chuckle at the rapier wit of Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker; and dream with yesterday’s poets who didn’t write of politics and technology but were lyrical – Byron, Shelley and Keats; W. B. Yeats,  Rupert Brooke and A.E. Housman.  All these authors probably date me (my grandchildren and great-grandchildren have certainly never read them) but their works are timeless and remain an inspiration.

Sometimes our own words disappoint us. Edith Wharton wrote: “I dream of an eagle, I give birth to a humming-bird.”  So we try and try again, sometimes managing to capture just a little bit of heaven in our quest to be crowned with stars.

And when we do, there is nothing to compare with the joy of accomplishment. Our spirits soar along with our words, and the singing bird builds its nest in the green tree we have kept alive in our heart.

Happy writing. I am here to help you (free) if you need help with any writing problem. Contact me at

dwaysman@gmail.com – I always enjoy your comments.

                          _______________________________

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SOME WORDS TO INSPIRE YOU

We all have “down” periods now and then, when we’ve had a rejection, when we just don’t feel motivated, when we question whether we really can call ourselves “writers.” If you’re going through such a period now, here are a few hints to get you going again:

Make yourself a writing area, no matter how small – a quiet space just for you, your pen, notebook or computer.

Decide when is the best time, day or night, it suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.

Robert Frost wrote: “No tears in the writer, No tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer. No surprise for the reader,”

Learn to enjoy your own company, because good writing requires concentration.

Inspiration is everywhere. Seek it out!

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

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely and see what happens,The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained .Breathe life into your words, and they’ll know it too.

Try to avoid cliches. Make your writing surprising and spontaneous.

Be your own critic. Sympathetic, but merciless.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no-one ever becomes a master.

And finally, forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing!

If you are having a writing problem, I am here to help you (free of charge.) Contact me direct at dwaysman@gmail.com, or to buy one of my 14 books. Happy writing.

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WRITING SHORT STORIES

 Why does anyone become a writer? You could reply facetiously as did a well-known conservation writer, who replied: “If I didn’t write, I might have to work for a living. Shaving every day and all that!”

The truth is no-one chooses a career of writing – it chooses you. Like music or painting, writing is a compulsion for some people, whether they are composing deathless prose or writing a recipe book – they just have to write.

In practical terms, anyone can be a writer. It’s about the only profession you can take up where you don’t need any capital – a pen and paper and you’re in business. But there are certain qualities that are indispensable, even to the beginner.  You obviously need talent and enough ego to believe that others will want to read your work. You need determination and optimism, because the road to success is lined with many rejection slips. And you need enormous self-discipline … there is no office to rush to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. You must face that blank sheet of paper every day (or the computer screen) and sit there and do battle, when outside the birds are singing; the telephone shrills; there’s a great program on TV; friends drop by and there are a million delicious distractions to seduce you away from your work if you’ll let them.

But if you don’t … if you actually start to fill those pages and you know you have something worth saying … ah then, you wouldn’t change what you are doing if you could control empires. Writing is the supreme act of creation, and while you are engaged in it, there’s a bubbling happiness that nothing can equal.

Let’s study the short story.  To be effective, it must convey something from writer to reader. The power of its offering is the measure of its excellence. Apart from that, there are no rules except that to qualify as a short story, it should be able to be read at a single sitting. Like a novel, it should depict character moved by plot.  But it will not elaborate on secondary characters or need sub-plots. A short story must maintain a single point of view to keep the story in focus.

  Your story begins for the writer and reader alike when the confusing outer show of things can be swept aside, when something happens which gives access to the secret pulse of life.  What then is a story? You can say it is a quest for life, both for the writer and the reader.

The greatest source of material is provided by life itself.  But life, with its constant needs, its weight, its multiplicity, has a certain rawness, which is its power. The writer’s role is to refine and sift. While a story is an impression of life, it is never a copy of life. In both life and in a story there are moments that stand out – revelations, conflict, drama, decisions – almost as if time had waited for such a moment, new and unrepeatable, to happen.

When you write a story, you first ask yourself  not only what DID happen, but what MIGHT  have happened – and then write it as if it did happen.

In this lesson, we are going to deal with the SUBJECT  and THEME of the short story.  THE SUBJECT is almost always a character, a place or a situation. You could call it the area of focus.

The THEME is the general comment on this area of human experience conveyed through such specific elements as plot, characterization, tone, point of view, imagery and symbol.

For example, the SUBJECT of your story might be Paris.  Your THEME could be: Paris is a romantic, magical city where it is easy to fall in love.

The SUBJECT of your story might be a woman. Let’s call her Lisa Robbins.

Your THEME might be: Lisa has wasted her life in dreams of the past.

Your SUBJECT might be love.  The THEME could be: the possessive kind of love John has for Ruth leads only to self-destruction. 

When you decide on the subject and theme of the story you want to write, respect your own background enough to write about it. It may sound exciting to write a sophisticated story about the morals (or lack of them) of a   group of jetsetters on a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps – but if you have never mixed with such people and indeed, never visited Switzerland, your story can only be shallow and unconvincing. You could write a really deep, compassionate story about neighbors who live in your own street. It would be far more meaningful from your creative point of view, and certainly more perceptive and enlightening for your reader.

How to get started:

1) Write a description of someone you once met or knew  who made a deep impression on you, even though your lives may have crossed only once. It can be someone you met at a party; or saw fleetingly on a  bus; someone who was wise or charismatic, or even a drop-out from society, but in some way made a vivid impression.

2) Think of someone or something very meaningful to you. Write down what situation, place or kind of person you would like to use as the subject of a story. What would be your THEME – that is, what kind of comment would you make on this subject?

Happy writing. I am always here to give you help (free) on any writing problems you may have. Contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com You can also purchase from me direct copies of some of my 14 novels:

“The Pomegranate Pendant”|; “In A Good Pasture”; “Searching for Sarah”.

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BREAKING THE RULES

Is it possible, in this day and age, to write a romantic novel without sex?  Everyone told me it couldn’t be done, and when I sent a synopsis of the novel I wanted to write  to several publishers, it was rejected for this reason.

“Esther”, sub-titled A Jerusalem Love Story, is initially set in the 1950’s when life was very different.  The permissive age had not yet arrived, not much was known about contraception, and the widely-held belief was “Bad girls do, and good girls don’t.”  This novel was based on my life in London during the years 1951 – 1954 , before moving back to Australia and then on to Jerusalem So although I was told no-one today would read a romantic novel without some graphic sex, I was determined it could be done.

In 1999 my novel was accepted, and published a year later in 2000, by H.C.I. in Florida, home of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” best-selling series, for their Simcha Press fiction imprint.  I was thrilled although they appointed an editor  who, of course, wanted me to heat up some of the love scenes.  We fought quite bitterly at first, but in the end I won. I wanted it to be a tender story of love over three decades that remained unconsummated… that was the whole point.  In the voice of the man, it expresses a yearning for a woman he could never possess due to various circumstances, although they each married other partners.  There is a bit of “off camera” sex but not between the hero and heroine, Max and Esther.  I didn’t want it to be the same as all the other romances and I knew that such a love, impossible as today’s youth might find it, is indeed a possibility.

  In 2001 I did a successful book promotion tour to many cities in the U.S. with book-signings at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores.  “Esther” had some wonderful reviews.  Publishers’ Weekly wrote: “Readers with a taste for tragic romance should clear their calendars for an evening, grab a box of tissues and enjoy this haunting story of a love that could not be.”  Another critic whom I shall love forever described it as: “A veritable ‘Bridges of Madison County’ with a Hebrew accent.

I broke the rules but achieved the novel that is my favorite of the  14 books I have so far published.

Happy writing. I am here to help you free with any writing problems. Contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com

                      

e-mail: ways@netvision net.il

Writers’ Exchange

                 BREAKING THE RULES

Is it possible, in this day and age, to write a romantic novel without sex?  Everyone told me it couldn’t be done, and when I sent a synopsis of the novel I wanted to write  to several publishers, it was rejected for this reason.

“Esther”, sub-titled A Jerusalem Love Story, is initially set in the 1950’s when life was very different.  The permissive age had not yet arrived, not much was known about contraception, and the widely-held belief was “Bad girls do, and good girls don’t.”  My novel is based on my life in London during the years 1951 – 1954 , before moving on to Jerusalem and Lebanon.  So although I was told no-one today would read a romantic novel without some graphic sex, I was determined it could be done.

In 1999 my novel was accepted, and published a year later in 2000, by H.C.I. in Florida, home of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” best-selling series, for their Simcha Press fiction imprint.  I was thrilled although they appointed an editor  who, of course, wanted me to heat up some of the love scenes.  We fought quite bitterly at first, but in the end I won. I wanted it to be a tender story of love over three decades that remained unconsummated… that was the whole point.  In the voice of the man, it expresses a yearning for a woman he could never possess due to various circumstances, although they each married other partners.  There is a bit of “off camera” sex but not between the hero and heroine, Max and Esther.  I didn’t want it to be the same as all the other romances and I knew that such a love, impossible as today’s youth might find it, is indeed a possibility.

                                         -2-

In 2001 I did a successful book promotion tour to many cities in the U.S. with book-signings at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores.  “Esther” had some wonderful reviews.  Publishers’ Weekly wrote: “Readers with a taste for tragic romance should clear their calendars for an evening, grab a box of tissues and enjoy this haunting story of a love that could not be.”  Another critic whom I shall love forever described it as: “A veritable ‘Bridges of Madison County’ with a Hebrew accent.

I broke the rules but achieved the novel that is my favorite of the  14 books I have so far published.

(500 words)                           __________________

Dvora Waysman  5 Karmon Street, Flat 5, Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem 96308  Israel.  Tel: 972 2 6513096

e-mail: ways@netvision net.il

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WRITING AS THERAPY

                                     WRITING AS THERAPY

                                      by DVORA WAYSMAN

Some time ago I read about a group of seven ex-patriate British women, living temporarily in the Far East.  They were all facing new challenges, meeting new people and having new adventures.  They had something else in common …. they were all experiencing a sense of loss for what they had left behind.  For some it was friends and family, for some it was the familiarity of places that were as comfortable to slip into as the folds of an old overcoat.  They were all feeling vulnerable.

They wanted something more than the superficial expatriate relationships.  They decided to form a writers’ circle.  It began casually after they heard a talk by a writer on the benefits of speedwriting, or what is known to writers as “stream of consciousness”.  The speaker explained how this kind of writing can be used to free inspiration and find out who you really are.  Sometimes, while writing on one topic, another will come into your mind as if by accident.  Natalie Goldberg, in her book “Writing Down the Bones” explains it as:  “Shake the apple tree and you get oranges.”

You don’t need to be a professional writer, or even have ambitions in that direction, to benefit from this kind of writing.  You just sit down with a pen and some blank pages and start writing about whatever comes into your mind. Let it flow without worrying about grammar, spelling or syntax.  When you write in this uninhibited way, your internal critic and censor doesn’t get a look in.  You can write on a particular topic (the women I mentioned chose “home”) or you can make up a heading like “Morning Pages” and see what happens.  Random thoughts will flow on to the paper and some of them may surprise you.  You’ll find that you peel away protective facades and allow yourself to express your vulnerabilities.  Whether you decide to do this on your own or with a group of friends as the women in the Far East did, you’ll discover honesty  and maybe it will be cemented in tears, letting you come to grips with sorrows you had buried in your subconscious that needed to be expressed before you could move forward with your life.

If you form a Writers’ Circle, to meet for this kind of speedwriting, it can develop into a closely bonded group.  Members can take turns to think of a topic but it should only be disclosed at the last minute when everyone is ready to write.  I tried the experiment once with a group of my students and the subject was, believe it or not, “door handles.”  It was amazing what they came up with when they let their imaginations flow unimpeded.  Door handles were turned to enable them to step into magic gardens; to new and better lives; to entering places that were forbidden to them until then.  The important thing to remember is confidentiality must be assured when you open up your secret imaginings and fantasies, judgments are never made, all emotions are admissable and both laughter and tears are held in equal esteem.

                                                            

To those who want to write and are just taking their first steps, “stream of consciousness” writing is a wonderful way to overcome writers’ block.  It lets loose intense emotions that can come to the surface and provide inspiration.  In such a safe environment, it is easy to be honest with yourself.

Many authors, like Virginia Woolf, have even published their stream-of-consciousness writing.  Psychologists have often used it in therapy for anxiety-ridden patients or those experiencing traumatic nightmares.  The very act of writing down one’s secret fears helps to banish them.  You should not try to do it on a computer, because the technology interferes with your unimpeded flow of words.  I have tried this kind of speedwriting sometimes, and when I’ve read it over later, have occasionally found an unexpected poem hidden among the words.

When asked why I write (and I write a minimum of 5,000 words a day) I usually reply that I do it to clarify things for myself, to help me understand my life and put things in perspective.  I find this happens even when I am writing fiction and different events are happening to characters I’ve created in my mind.  My motto, printed on my letterhead, has always been: “Every act of creation is a self-portrait. Autograph your work with excellence.”

Godfrey Howard, speaking to the Authors’ Club in London, said: “Writers write because they love language, because they want to share their visions, and because they want to throw a bridge across the void.”

I believe writing is one of the most therapeutic things you can do.  If you have never done more than write letters, try it.  If you want to get rid of writers’ block, try it.  Lose your inhibitions and let the words pour out unimpeded.  You may be surprised and delighted where they will take you.

                              ______________________

Dvora Waysman is the author of 9 published books, including her latest novel “Esther” A Jerusalem Love Story. She has been teaching Creative Writing for 30 years. She can be

contacted on ways@netvision.net.il or tel: 972 2  6513096.

Dvora Waysman 5 Karmon Street, Flat 5 Beit Hakerem Jerusalem 96308 Israel

Tel:972 2 6513096     e-mail: ways@netvision.net.il

                                     WRITING AS THERAPY

                                      by DVORA WAYSMAN

Recently I read about a group of seven ex-patriate British women, living temporarily in the Far East.  They were all facing new challenges, meeting new people and having new adventures.  They had something else in common …. they were all experiencing a sense of loss for what they had left behind.  For some it was friends and family, for some it was the familiarity of places that were as comfortable to slip into as the folds of an old overcoat.  They were all feeling vulnerable.

They wanted something more than the superficial expatriate relationships.  They decided to form a writers’ circle.  It began casually after they heard a talk by a writer on the benefits of speedwriting, or what is known to writers as “stream of consciousness”.  The speaker explained how this kind of writing can be used to free inspiration and find out who you really are.  Sometimes, while writing on one topic, another will come into your mind as if by accident.  Natalie Goldberg, in her book “Writing Down the Bones” explains it as:  “Shake the apple tree and you get oranges.”

You don’t need to be a professional writer, or even have ambitions in that direction, to benefit from this kind of writing.  You just sit down with a pen and some blank pages and start writing about whatever comes into your mind. Let it flow without worrying about grammar, spelling or syntax.  When you write in this uninhibited way, your internal critic and censor doesn’t get a look in.  You can write on a particular topic (the women I mentioned chose “home”) or you can make up a heading like “Morning Pages” and see what happens.  Random thoughts will flow on to the paper and some of them may surprise you.  You’ll find that you peel away protective facades and allow yourself to express your vulnerabilities.  Whether you decide to do this on your own or with a group of friends as the women in the Far East did, you’ll discover honesty  and maybe it will be cemented in tears, letting you come to grips with sorrows you had buried in your subconscious that needed to be expressed before you could move forward with your life.

If you form a Writers’ Circle, to meet for this kind of speedwriting, it can develop into a closely bonded group.  Members can take turns to think of a topic but it should only be disclosed at the last minute when everyone is ready to write.  I tried the experiment once with a group of my students and the subject was, believe it or not, “door handles.”  It was amazing what they came up with when they let their imaginations flow unimpeded.  Door handles were turned to enable them to step into magic gardens; to new and better lives; to entering places that were forbidden to them until then.  The important thing to remember is confidentiality must be assured when you open up your secret imaginings and fantasies, judgments are never made, all emotions are admissable and both laughter and tears are held in equal esteem.

                                                                             -2-

To those who want to write and are just taking their first steps, “stream of consciousness” writing is a wonderful way to overcome writers’ block.  It lets loose intense emotions that can come to the surface and provide inspiration.  In such a safe environment, it is easy to be honest with yourself.

Many authors, like Virginia Woolf, have even published their stream-of-consciousness writing.  Psychologists have often used it in therapy for anxiety-ridden patients or those experiencing traumatic nightmares.  The very act of writing down one’s secret fears helps to banish them.  You should not try to do it on a computer, because the technology interferes with your unimpeded flow of words.  I have tried this kind of speedwriting sometimes, and when I’ve read it over later, have occasionally found an unexpected poem hidden among the words.

When asked why I write (and I write a minimum of 5,000 words a day) I usually reply that I do it to clarify things for myself, to help me understand my life and put things in perspective.  I find this happens even when I am writing fiction and different events are happening to characters I’ve created in my mind.  My motto, printed on my letterhead, has always been: “Every act of creation is a self-portrait. Autograph your work with excellence.”

Godfrey Howard, speaking to the Authors’ Club in London, said: “Writers write because they love language, because they want to share their visions, and because they want to throw a bridge across the void.”

I believe writing is one of the most therapeutic things you can do.  If you have never done more than write letters, try it.  If you want to get rid of writers’ block, try it.  Lose your inhibitions and let the words pour out unimpeded.  You may be surprised and delighted where they will take you.

                               ______________________

Happy writing. I enjoy your comments, and am here to help you, free, with any of your writing problems. You can contact me direct at dwaysman@gmail.com

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A FEW SECRETS OF SUCCESS

Here are some useful habits that can help you on the road to success as a writer:

BE PART OF THE TRIBE: Writing can be a lonely pastime. Develop a circle of creative contacts. A network can be invaluable. Getting high-quality feedback is essential, so try to find a group or workshop where you can get honest and rigorous feedback. Meeting with other writers and going to events also helps you find out about publishing opportunities.

VORACIOUS READING: If you don’t have time to read, you can’t be a writer. If you’re immersed in contemporary literature, your writing will be the better for it. You don’t need to like everything you read, but you need to know who is doing what in your chosen field.

BE SUPERSTITIOUS: One unusual thing often commented upon is the odd selection of habits that creative people develop. Many successful writers have admitted to having lucky charms or strange rituals. Writer Muriel Spark would never write fiction with a pen anyone else had used. Some writers can only write at their own desk, in their own study, not at a laptop. Objects and rituals can act as associative triggers that help us get into the right emotional state.

STOCK THE POND: Keep replenishing your stock of ideas. Go for a walk; visit a local gallery or museum; browse in an interesting shop….or read something wonderful that sparks your own inspiration.

ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES: Prioritize your writing time. Set aside a special time and ‘surround it with barbed wire.’ Don’t discuss your work until it’s done. Negative comments can stop you in your tracks. If asked what your book is about, you can say: “:The usual”; “I wish I knew” or “Not sure, to be perfectly frank.”

WRITE: You are not a writer unless you are writing. We all have excuses for not finding the time. Make sure you write something – every working day.

Good luck. I am here to help you (free) with any writing problems. Contact me direct at dwaysman@gmail.com for any help you need, or to ask about copies of my books. I am always happy to hear your comments.

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WRITE AND BE PUBLISHED

          WRITE AND BE PUBLISHED

              by   DVORA WAYSMAN

“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever” wrote 19th  century writer Martin Tupper, a sentiment almost universally shared.

But what about the author?  Whenever I’ve had a new book published, along with some congratulations, you’d be surprised at some of the comments.  “You’re so lucky” from a fellow-writer, meaning that talent had little to do with it.  Several readers have told me that they have thought about writing a book “but I just don’t have time” as though that’s the only thing needed, and they are far too busy to waste it, as I have obviously been doing. I had one phone call from a lady who gushed: “I was delighted to read that you have a new book out, as I thought you’d died years ago!”

Such is fame!  But what about if you seriously want to write your first book.  What are the chances of having it published?  Think positively and remember no-one was a famous author before writing that first novel.  There is always the fear of “will I be good enough?” because writing a book demands an enormous commitment in time and energy, with no guarantee that it will be successful.  You do need an almost demonic compulsiveness to invest perhaps years in such a project.  You should choose a theme which reflects a way of life with which readers can identify.  If a book doesn’t move you, if its characters don’t arouse your compassion and the emotional progress of the story isn’t fascinating, then the writer has failed.

This applies to every genre, even to children’s books, where a lack of sincerity is immediately spotted.  Each book, like each life, is unique – the rites of passage of courtship and marriage; the birth of offspring; the onset of old age; personal tragedies and triumphs; the painful losses we accrue, and the people we meet and learn to love.  This doesn’t mean that every book we write is an autobiography, yet in a way it is for every work of creation is a self-portrait.  To be a writer, you must autograph it with excellence.

How do you get a book published?  In practical terms, you write it – or a large part of it – and then send it out in the market-place.  If you can’t do it alone, you try to find a literary agent to represent you, although for unknown writers, this can sometimes be more difficult than finding a publisher.  Study successful books of the same genre you are writing, and see who publishes them.  Then you might write to the publishing house, asking for permission to send them a synopsis and three sample chapters (never the whole ms. unless they ask for it).  Don’t send anything without a query letter first – if it just comes across the transom, it will be consigned to the dreaded slush pile.

If your letter, which should be very creative, triggers their interest, you may get a reply – either by e-mail, or if you send a stamped-addressed return envelope, or the equivalent postage in International Reply Coupons (obtainable at main post offices).

  With non-fiction, such as popular “How to….” titles, send a Book Proposal consisting of a cover letter outlining your idea and your personal expertise in the area, plus clippings of anything you’ve had published on the subject.  You should also include a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, with the title of each chapter, plus a brief summary of what it will contain.  Make the Book Proposal as attractive as possible, even using some computer graphics.

The bottom line for all publishers is how many copies they anticipate it will sell, for publishing is, after all, a business.  There are publishers, the so-called vanity press, who will publish your book for a price and you must decide if you want to follow this route, which may be the only possibility for a first novel if you are unknown.  However, there are some publishers who will take a risk if they see great potential and talent, or if they believe the author will enhance their prestige (it helps if you are a famous politician, military general or rock star).

With fiction, whether in the realm of novel or short story, to be effective you need a compelling plot, a hook opening, a successful and satisfying ending, and a middle that keeps the reader hoping, guessing and involved.   Don’t overlook short stories as a break from your novel. In American and British magazines they pay very well and are a good way to give yourself short term rewards while you’re working on that full-length novel.

Very few authors become rich from writing books, unless you’re another John Grisham or can invent a Harry Potter, who is a phenomenon. Usually after your initial triumph, your book will only have a short shelf-life – some of mine disappeared a few months after I finished a book tour across America.  Remember, there are thousands of new books coming out every year that you will have to compete with.

That said, being a writer is an exciting life.  You don’t need capital to begin; you can write at your own speed; you can work from home and, as a male colleague once informed me, “you don’t even need to shave every day!” 

The one quality you need to develop as a writer is the ability to accept rejection, because no writer can escape it.  Insults are also par for the course.  William Faulkner once wrote of Ernest Hemingway: “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary”; while Hemingway replied: “Poor Faulkner.  Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”  But the greatest put-down I’ve ever heard came from someone called Moses Hadas:  “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book;  I’ll waste no time reading it!”

Happy writing! I am always glad to hear your comments, and am available for free help with any writing problems. To ask advice, or for how to obtain any of my 14 books, contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com.

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USING YOUR SENSES

We are each endowed with five senses …. sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell. Our most effective writing is when we bring them into play , and let our readers share one or more of them, to enhance the reader’s enjoyment.

I wanted a powerful ending for my first, and most popular book, “The Pomegranate Pendant” that was made into the movie “The Golden Pomegranate.” It was time for my heroine Mazal, who had started out in the book as a child bride from Yemen, to die; so I decided to make the final paragraph as strong as I could. I did this by employing all of the five senses:

“I looked up through the branches and saw the stars shimmering like a million diamonds, the moon golden like my pomegranate pendant. I listened to the wind sighing in the fir trees that pointed like sentinels towards heaven. I inhaled the fragrance of a magnolia tree in the garden, and rosemary, basil and thyme wafting down from the Judean Hills … herbs that my mother had grown in Sana’a and I had planted in my tiny plot in the Choosh. I stooped and took a handful of soil and let it run between my fingers. I was saying goodbye to Jerusalem and had used all my five senses but one, in this silent dialogue with the city I loved. I hoped that Paradise would look like Jerusalem. And then, I tasted it – the salt of the tears that were slowly trickling from my eyes.

Ezra had been right from the start: we had come to Jerusalem to be redeemed. And so we were.”

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Happy writing. I am always glad to read your comments and to help you with any writing problems free of charge. You can also purchase any of my novels direct from me at discount. Just e-mail: dwaysman@g.mail.com

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WRITING SPACES

                                           WRITING SPACES

                                       by  DVORA  WAYSMAN

How do ideas form?  How do you transform thoughts into words that become stories and poems?  I have often been asked these questions, and my real reply is: “magic and miracles”, but it’s not an answer that would satisfy anyone but another writer.  Yet composers are rarely asked: “Where does your music come from?” as listeners hear a haunting melodic refrain or the awe-inspiring crashing crescendo of a symphony or concerto.  They may query an artist if it’s a “real” place when they see a magical landscape forming in oils on his canvas, but usually the questions are reserved for writers.

I taught“Creative Writing” for 35 years.  I always quoted a two-line poem I heard as a child  from my older sister (author unknown),

            “Writing is dreaming, head in the skies.

             Reading is sharing another man’s eyes.”

I was 7 when my sister read it to me, and at that moment, my writer’s soul was born.  I felt I had all these secrets I wanted to share, and I wanted my readers to be able to see, hear, smell, touch and taste them … to “share my eyes.”

I have written and published more than 5,000 articles in my life, and 14 books.  In one historical novel (“The Pomegranate Pendant” published first by Feldheim and later Chaim Mazo  Publishing, both in English, French, Braille and Hebrew)  I wrote in the first person as a 14-year-old child bride from Yemen who came to live in Jerusalem in the Holy Land 100 years ago.  For the duration of writing that novel, I WAS  Mazal ben-Yechiya even though I had never visited or lived in Yemen, and my Jerusalem is of a different era. That novel was made into a movie called “The Golden Pomegranate.”

In “Back of Beyond” (published by Pitspopany), I was a 12-year-old boy named Danny visiting Ayers Rock in Australia’s north and having all kinds of adventures with an aboriginal boy named Muri.  In my novel “Esther” (published by H.C.I. in Florida) I am a London journalist named Max involved with a three-decades- long love affair with Esther even though in truth I am a woman who was married for 65 years and have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.    My “writing space” involves vivid imagination, nostalgia, reminisinces, dreams both fulfilled and unfulfilled; songs I sang; jokes I laughed at; the pain of loss; the joy of sharing.

I don’t  write at an orderly desk overlooking mountains or lakes.  I do finish up working at my computer, but  the Muse is always with me  –  in my dreams at night; when I glimpse a stranger with a beautiful face, or even one lined with broken commandments; when  a grandchild offers me a tiny hand with love and trust;  when I see a star in a black velvet sky or the dewdrop  that nestles in the heart of a rose.    I write out of love or of pain, out of tenderness or passion.  If I am breathing, I am writing.

So where is my writing space?   I guess it is in my heart.

Happy writing! If you wish to contact me directly, or are interested in any of my books, e-mail me at: dwaysman@gmail . will also help you with any writing problems free of charge.

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