Friday, April 18, 2014

The Israeli Republic of Iran

Prominent Iranian writer Jalal Al-e Ahmad visited Israel before his country's Islamic Revolution, seeing in the State of Israel a model for Islamic Iran. His words are especially significant today.

In February, 1963, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, a prominent Iranian writer who is credited for helping lay the groundwork for his country's Islamic revolution, visited Israel at the invitation of the Israeli government, along with his wife, Persian novelist Simin Daneshvar. His report of the trip, "Journey to the Land of Israel" was harshly criticized by the revolutionary clerics who had seen Al-e Ahmad as an ally in their struggle against the West, and against the Shah.

What upset the clerics so much was that Al-e Ahmad saw in the Israel of the early sixties a model for the future of Iran. Writing in eloquent Persian, the author stated that Israel was a velayat, or guardianship state, due to the fact that it speaks for not only its citizens, but also for the Jews of the Diaspora, who outnumbered the citizens of the state.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Where Do You Go for Inspiration?

The other day one of my Twitter author friends commented that she hadn't accomplished as much with her novel during the week as she would have liked. My tweet in response was, "Relaxing on the weekend can help you write your novel more than you know."

Sometimes the best way to make progress with your writing and/or editing is by taking a break. I'm not referring to a situation where your progress is stymied by writer's block (I've previously written an article detailing How to Cure Writer's Block.) I'm talking about a situation when your writing is proceeding slowly, but surely, according to your vision, but, you need to come up for air, get refreshed, and recharge your batteries.

Getting away from everything, even for a short time, can reignite your creative juices. Take a step back from your writing, stop thinking about your plot and characters for awhile, and instead clear your mind. Taking a break from your work-in-progress can help you refocus on your writing.

So, where should you go for inspiration? Sometimes the answer is right in your backyard. Join me as I step outside.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Words of Simon Schama

The Story of the Jews subtitled "Finding the Words 1000 BC - 1492 AD", is the first of two volumes to accompany the acclaimed television documentary series.

In a video introducing the documentary, which was produced for BBC and is now being shown on PBS, prize winning author and Emmy Award winner Simon Schama states:
"What ties us together is a story.

The story kept in our heads and hearts.

We told our story to survive.

We are our story."

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Walk North of the Old City of Jerusalem

Damascus Gate
Having lived in Israel for over forty years, I am constantly amazed that I can still discover new places, cultures, and religions about which I know very little. There are magnificent buildings, churches, and gardens I have not previously explored. There are shops I have not visited and restaurants where I have yet to eat.

The solution to this is to continue to travel around Israel and learn even more about the country, its history and traditions.

This time my wife and I took a walk north of the Old City of Jerusalem, along Nablus Road in the eastern part of the city. This is the Arab, Palestinian half of Jerusalem, a bustling commercial hubbub rarely visited by Israelis, yet there is much to see, including a cave where many Christians believe Jesus was buried after his crucifixion.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Theodor Herzl Met Kaiser Wilhelm II

Mikve Israel was the first agricultural school established in Palestine. Located just north of the city of Holon, Mikve Israel played an important role in the story of Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael and in the development of agriculture in the country.

Theodor Herzl, born in Budapest in 1860, wrote of the agricultural possibilities available in the Jewish State he envisioned. In his book, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, 1896), Herzl wrote that "The poorest will go first to cultivate the soil... The labor expended on the land will enhance its value, and the Jews will soon perceive that a new and permanent sphere of operation is opening here."

In 1897, Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. After the Congress, Herzl saw the need for encouragement by the great powers of the day. The Ottomans ruled in Palestine, so Herzl planned to meet with the Sultan. Another of the world's most influential powers was Germany, ruled by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Herzl had heard that the Kaiser was favorable to the idea of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Herzl prepared to meet the Kaiser at the Mikve Israel school, which was on the road the Kaiser would take from his arrival in Jaffa to Jerusalem.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Making a Name for Myself in Sri Lanka

For Israelis, as well as for Bulgarians, the island nation of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean brings up thoughts of elephants, golden beaches, tea, cinnamon, and tropical forests. In short - a very appealing, exotic destination.  But, what do Sri Lankans think of when considering Israel and Bulgaria?

"The east European country of Bulgaria is a name that surely evokes an image much bound to exoticism and mysticism to the Sri Lankan mind," states journalist Dilshan Boange.

In an article entitled "Unfolding the beauty of Bulgaria through fiction," which was published in a full-page color spread at the beginning of March in The Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka's English newspaper with the largest circulation, Dilshan introduced readers to my writing.

While many of my answers focused on my life, work, and writing in Israel, it was "enchanting Bulgaria" which truly appealed to the interviewer. Introducing me to his readers, Dilshan correctly wrote that the "picturesque land of Bulgaria brims with a richness of ancient history, culture, lore and legend" and this led to my writing Valley of Thracians.

"It is not often that Israeli authors are interviewed in the Sri Lankan press," Dilshan informed me.

I thank Dilshan for the interview, which can be read online here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Does Caffeine Make You a Better Writer?

Like many of my fellow writers, I need a cup of coffee to stimulate the creative juices, especially when I sit down to write at ungodly early morning hours before the sun has risen. Often my mind is full of ideas which germinated while I was sleeping. I am raring to get started, something that is only possible when a mug of java is steaming at the side of my laptop.

There is no doubt in my mind that we're talking about an addiction of sorts. My daily coffee intake is only two cups, but I find that I need that first cup as a source of motivation. My addiction is therefore not to caffeine, itself, but to the notion that I must drink coffee in order to have a productive writing session.

While it is a given that drinking coffee makes you more alert, does caffeine make you more creative as well? I decided to investigate.