Tuesday, June 14, 2016

About Writing - With Love

My first blog about writing, "With Love," appears as a "guest post" on the site of Gila Green, the talented Canadian-Israeli author of the futuristic novel, King of the Class and many other fine works. Please click on this link and/or read below:

Summer Guest Post Series. Welcome Sari Friedman's "With Love"

With Love
By Sari Friedman

If I’m lucky, something spectacular happens at some point in my writing process. I fall in love. Sometimes I’m in love with my protagonist, but not always— it’s impossible to predict which character, setting, technical aspect or plot sequence will fill me with that combination of tender regard, affection, allegiance and the desire to start writing a sonnet.

As I wrote my first novel, which is about a New Yorker who starts to remember her past-life 4,000 years ago in the Land of Canaan, I fell in love with the antagonist’s manipulative pyrotechnics. I loved the technical challenge of revealing the conniving of a hurt-causing personality. I’m not conniving in real life. I'm nurturing and empathic. Strangers have been known to call me “Mom.” But this meant that I’d never understood how a hurtful personality could function. And that led to my sometimes being very hurt. In practical terms, even when the red flags were waving and the signs were on the metaphysical equivalent of a forty foot high billboard, I could never just “expect” cruelty.

During my writing process, my confusion and fear of this kind of personality were transformed into a sort of comprehension. The process of creating a “mean” antagonist taught me things I needed to know. Dreaming up dialogue and “family of origin” issues, exploring the frosty plains within an unempathic mind, turned out to be therapeutic. I will never love cruelty, that’s not going to happen. But I benefited from the self-healing and solace that can come from understanding and wading through some of the mud that can be found in a human heart. I learned something. I became more whole.

As I write my second novel, which is a YA about a sex-trafficked teen, I'm falling in love again. This time I’m besotted with an outspoken secondary character’s dialect. I’ve never spoken in this dialect, but I love the voice. As Gustave Flaubert replied, when asked who the “real” Madame Bovary was, c’est moi. So okay, writing is a little bit like looking in a mirror; but what's revealed is the rich raw mess of an inner life.

I’m not the only writer who falls in love with aspects of the worlds she creates. That’s the literary experience. Every character has a path, but it is the writer who creates those paths, and wrestling with artistic and craft challenges can make all kinds of answers appear.

Being a writer is hard. The need to write usually feels like addiction. My first novel took years to finish, during most of which I was impoverished. This novel got a great agent, but it’s still unpublished. And the subject area of my current writing project is stressing me out — the sex trafficked teen protagonist may, or may not, have the will to save herself. Her journey is uncertain and it's a struggle to discern her voice at all, to patiently draw it from my unconscious and past the bossy double-Virgo editor I carry around. Fortunately, the secondary character in this novel, and her dialect that I love to write, is helping me out.

Sari Friedman is a Pushcart-nominated writer who earned an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University in New York. She recently moved from Berkeley, California to Tel Aviv, Israel, where she's writing her second novel and still feeding street cats. More info at www.sarifriedman.net


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Lotus Blossom in an Urban Oasis

This photo shows a lotus blossom floating on an oasis’s surface in Sarona Market in Tel Aviv; the scene of tonight's terrorist attack. A lotus symbolizes the journey of the soul, rising from the mud and reaching for the light. Sarona Market was a lot like that — a haven in which people of all kinds reached for a moment of joy. 

Inside there was the stall of an older Arab woman who sold food cooked in gigantic metal pots. A handsome French dude sold fancier cookware. You could buy popsicles, tomatoes, micro-brewed beer and rice paper to make your own spring rolls. Most grocery stores in Israel are sparse (something of a surprise when you get here), so going to Sarona was a treat.

I live about a mile away from Sarona Market, and I walked by often. I was a block away just after nine tonight, when two terrorists started shooting. Four people were killed and more were horribly injured. I heard the sirens but I barely noticed – you hear sirens all the time here. But as I write this it’s four a.m. and I can’t sleep. I'm trying not to hate the killers. I’m trying not to hate the psychopaths who bribed and propagandized those killers to kill. I’m trying not to hate everyone who believes the lies perpetuated about the only democracy in the Mideast, this tiny ancient homeland of the Jewish people, which is basically just a small scrap of desert.

Multicultural Sarona now has uneaten birthday cake and puddles of blood. The sirens are silenced. There’s so much damn mud in the human heart. And I am desperate for light.

Sue Freedland ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ
UnlikeReply2June 9 at 2:57am
Elmore Reese Jr. Sari, please, please be careful.
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 3:06am
Sari Friedman Thank you Elmore. Actually, I worry about the USA and Europe, too.
LikeReply1June 9 at 3:07am
Elmore Reese Jr. I share your concern about the rest of the world, but I only know one person in Israel right now and I want you to stay safe and sound.
UnlikeReply2June 9 at 3:17am
Sari Friedman
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Marjorie O'Meara Be Safe. Will have you in my prayers. Your post is beautifully written. I felt your painm anger and heartache.
UnlikeReply4June 9 at 3:21am
Sari Friedman Thank you very much Marjorie O'Meara, I really appreciate your words.
Sari Friedman
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Daniel Winter Hold on, girl. Hold on.

Hold on to the light within you. You don't always have to let it shine...
...See More
UnlikeReply2June 9 at 3:26am
Sari Friedman Beautiful Daniel.
LikeReply1June 9 at 3:28am
Sari Friedman
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Mary Friedman Horrible tragedy, shame on the whole world for tolerating such sin. Please keep yourself whole and loving, it's better that way. Miss your light terribly.
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 4:07am
Julie Justin Beautifully written. Thank you for bearing witness and raising your voice.
UnlikeReply2June 9 at 4:20am
Vicki Garcia Certainly worried about you today--keep writing, you are awesome. Please stay safe!
UnlikeReply3June 9 at 5:12am
Sonia Blue Sent you a what's up message....keep going towards the light.....sending love and prayers of healing for all.
UnlikeReply2June 9 at 5:17am
Abby Brunka Sari,, I'm so sad about this.๐Ÿ’– please be safe my love to you.
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 5:21am
Marl Ene Before you go out all of Israel needs to bless themselves with this prayer...ready here goes On the right side of me is archangel Micheal, on the left side is archangel Gabriel, behind me is archangel Raphael ,in front of me is archangel Uriel and over us is the shekianu of Hashem watching over us an protecting us. Amen. Hugs
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 5:29am
Sunny Hester Very glad that you're safe Sari. So very sorry for the loss of life, and those with mud (hatred) in their hearts. May God continue to bless and keep you safe. Take care
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 6:12am
Jennifer Morgenstern Where is the link Sari to this blog I wanted to post it and can't find it although saw it w this post . Wanted to share
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 6:28am
Sari Friedman Thank you here: Lotus Blossom at Sarona Markethttp://toi.sr/25NkyN1 via @timesofisrael
A while ago, I took this photo of a lotus blossom floating on an oasis’s surface in Sarona Market......
Sari Friedman Or this: http://www.sarifriedman.net/index.html?m=1
Sari, Sending wishes for a sweet and easy 5776 from Napa Valley. Just came across your…
Sari Friedman
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Liz Fleiss I love sarona market. I am sad. Angry.
UnlikeReply2June 9 at 6:46am
Laura Liora Wilcox Beautifully written
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 9:24am
Marissa Moss Please stay safe!
UnlikeReply2June 9 at 3:47pm
Nagy Rezsล‘ Kรถszรถnรถm kedves Sari Friedman   See Translation
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 5:02pm
Eileen Malone "uneaten birthday cake and puddles of blood" can't get that image out of my mind.
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 8:19pm
David Drapkin Glad your safe. Be careful because it seems these animals are out of their cages. Beautiful writing about a very sad and sobering event.
UnlikeReply1June 9 at 9:44pm
Immanuel Suttner Beautiful post...couldn't find the tears icon on my phone...may the Divine beyond name and form embrace you all in a warm and comforting hug
Neta Basson There's a Tibetan Buddhists mantra - Om Mani Padme Hum- that when you say it, they believe awaken compassion within you. 
When I asked some monk in China about the meaning of this mantra, he told me that literally it means to put the Lotus flower in your heart. Lotus represents compassion, he said. 
So I hope someday soon that the Lotus flower will reach the Terrorists leader's hearts …
...See More
Anne Berson What is wrong with hating the perpetrators of this atrocity? Don't be so PC that it blinds you to justice.
Sari Friedman If all I have in me is hate than they've succeeded at wrecking my inner life. I definitely hate their actions, I hate their hate, I hate the destruction they cause, I hate their lack of empathy. But I will do what I can to have love inside. I do understand what you're saying, though. I really do. Maybe I do still have hate inside if I hate their actions.
LikeReply1June 10 at 4:38pm
Sari Friedman
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Maria Stiltz I miss you... be safe!
Angela Schapiro Beautiful photo and comments. So sad for us all.
Michael Mellon Thank you Sari for your writings and thank you for your acceptance as a friend. As we grieve here today over the mass killings in Orlando, because some deranged Islamic nut got mad at two men kissing, we know that the motivation is hate. It's way easy to hate back, and way harder to love and teach. But we can not become them.
Sari Friedman
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