A Sun-Kissed Interview

Several weeks ago, Ayala, who blogs at A Sun Kissed Life, wrote the 9000th comment on my site, so in celebration, I would like to continue the practice of interviewing each 1000th commenter and am delighted that this time, it’s this talented young poet.

Photo: Ayala, A Sun-Kissed Life

1.   Among your interests, you list travel. How have your experiences in world-wide travels influenced your writing life?

As a child I was fortunate to travel with my parents. I continue to travel as an adult. I love traveling, it absolutely influenced my writing. Each place holds the promise of new experiences, people, sights, smells, food, and art. It moves me and inspires me to write.

2.   Your “About” states I believe in living each day the best way possible.” Can you describe how your “perfect” day would unfold?

A perfect day for me is when my two sons, my husband and I are together. We can be home enjoying conversation, cooking, watching television, or just hanging out. Another perfect scenario is when we all go fishing. We go to North Palm Beach, with a cooler of food, bait, our rods and we spend all day outdoors. Sometimes we stop at Peanut Island for lunch and a dip in turquoise waters. It used to be a deserted island when we first went there in the nineties. Now the city built it up with various facilities docking and camping grounds. It’s quite beautiful.

3.   If I understand your Facebook page correctly, you’ve resided both in Florida and Tel Aviv. How do the places you call home influence your poetry?

I was born in Israel.  I have been residing in Florida for the last 37 years. There are things that I remember about my early childhood in Israel. I treasure those memories. I believe that any place that you live influences who you are, your writing, and how you see the world. 

4.   Aside from your blog, where do you share your poetry? Have you published, or do you plan to publish your work? Do you write other genres besides poetry?

Aside from my blog I have not published my work. When I was in my twenties my dad urged me to publish a collection of poems that I wrote. I paid the publisher but my book was never published due to the publisher getting sick and the company closing down. I had no desire to publish my work afterwards.

I wrote a novel in my twenties and short stories, but my true passion is poetry.

5.   Who or what is the greatest inspiration behind your poetry?

My dad was my first fan. Always supporting me and reading my works. He was an inspiration. A child that survived the ghetto. He witnessed horrors, no child should see. He became a self-made man. He left Europe when he was a newlywed and immigrated to Israel. He spoke several languages and became a success. Even when he was a laborer in a factory, he fought for equal rights of his fellow workers. He was admired by others. He was involved in social issues and was extremely generous. He was involved in politics and later became an impresario, writer, jeweler, art dealer. Some of his work was published in a Romanian newspaper in Israel. He was a poet but he also wrote plays. Listening to him read poetry to my mom early on inspired me. My mom would tell me that I took after my dad. He passed away in 2008 and writing has been a salvation to me.

6.   When do you write? How do you work writing and blogging into your busy life as mother and entrepreneur?

I’ve been writing since I am eight years old. Being a mother and an entrepreneur I find myself juggling most of my days. I write notes when I feel inspired and I have notebooks with half poems written, things that inspire me at the moment. Later when I find time, I return to my notes, try to recreate the moment and write.

7.   Is there anything else that you would like us to know about you, your work, your family or your sweet dog, Daisy?

I would like my readers know that I was a single parent for the first nine years of my older son’s life. Being a single parent, I feel, is a privilege. My son and I are extremely close, because it was always him and I. I think it made me stronger and a better parent. I’ve also raised children as a partner with my husband. This has given me two entirely different perspectives on raising children.

Another thing I want them to know is why I started writing a blog. I began as a way to deal with the loss of my parents. I was in a lot of pain and it was therapeutic. At the time I felt strange exposing myself on the internet. I was reading blogs and writing. It opened me to a new world. I had seen the movie Julie and Julia in which a blogger recreates recipes of Julia Child while documenting her experience on a blog. I found the idea charming. Later I bought the book, The Happiness Project, and read Ms. Gretchen Rubin’s blog. One day I read an interview with a young mom and author named Aidan Donnelley Rowley. She wrote about her girls and the loss of her father. Those feelings resonated with me. She was one of the first people to leave me encouraging comments. Through her blog I found other blogs that I read. I was moved by Belinda Munoz who writes, The Halfway Point. Belinda has extended her friendship to me.  I treasure it and admire her as an activist and a humanitarian. The blogging community has shown me love and support. It allowed me to trust this place and share my deep feelings. Mr. Brian Miller gave me a lot of support in the beginning of my journey as well. He is a generous spirit in our poetry community.  I am humbled by all the great talent and creativity including yours Victoria. Thank you for this interview.  I have always appreciated your kindness toward me.

And thank you, Ayala, for taking time from your full life to be a part of our poetry communities and for sharing a bit of yourself through this interview. I hope everyone who reads this will take a moment and check out your blog, A Sun-Kissed Life…especially those of you who have not “met” Ayala.

Active Waiting

This morning I received an e-mail from my agent, Kimberly Shumate,  in which she stated the obvious…it’s slow-going in the world of publishing. She explained that most publishing houses, like other enterprises, have had to downsize. Fewer staff members translates into fewer people to review manuscripts submitted by agents and authors. When we first began to work together, Kimberly cautioned me to expect a period of waiting up to six months. Now, she says, it’s more like twelve.

Disappointing news, to be sure, but I know my agent is enthusiastic about my novel and working hard to sell it. There’s nothing left to do but wait…wait and write.

I’ve stalled completing the proposal for my second novel. After a while, it’s tempting to become discouraged and give in to entropy. That’s such a mistake and yesterday I made myself begin the tedious task of outlining the manuscript. It has to be a priority. It seems to me that having another book ready to be optioned should be a plus for an editor considering taking a risk on a new author.

If I may be so bold as to throw this out to the world of publishers and editors–many of us hungry, first-time authors are not looking for or expecting large advances. We would be happy just to get a foot in the door and are willing to accept royalties based on sales. Does this make a difference when you’re considering to take a chance on us?

So, to my fellow writers who are in that mode of waiting: keep on writing; don’t get discouraged. Enjoy the process but pray they hurry up!

Spring Cleaning

My current excuse for not writing is spring cleaning. True–it was 28 degrees in Reno this morning and snow flurries are dusting the tomato plants that my husband has covered with plastic and green sheets. It hardly feels like spring.

Clearing out “stuff” is a symbolic ritual–a sort of beginning anew to which the season invites us. We’re invited to prune from our lives those things which impede our growth in all dimensions: mental, spiritual, physical and emotional. The unparalleled sense of freedom that comes with detachment opens the way to new growth.

Once I’ve un-cluttered my life in this way, I will turn to un-cluttering my writing–revising my second novel.  If I remember correctly, in his book, “On Writing,” Stephen King recommends cutting your manuscript by 10% (it’s been a while since I read it) and I recently read an article with an even more stringent criterion of 30%. The bottom line: cut out extraneous words and scenes that don’t move the plot forward.

 “Write tight!” (sic)

Wordsmith Wednesday: Tune In to Inspiration

The drive home and challenges of unpacking have prevented writing and blogging time over the last few days. However, that doesn’t mean that demands of life have the right to completely stiffle the creative process. Tuning into silence, probing the Within, heightening sensory perception–all of these contribute to enrich sensory description, theme, symbolism and plot. It’s good to be home but the return to normalcy is still a way off. In the meantime, I’ll grab a minute here, jot some notes there. And when my writing routine begins to re-emerge, I’ll have a wealth of material to turn to. Successful writing depends on cultivating awareness.

Writing, Touched by Life

Looking back at my writing I see the influence of personal life experiences on the creative process.

My fiction is just that…fiction, but the characters spring out of my perceptions, my beliefs and people I’ve known in my lifetime. (The usual disclaimer: no one in my fiction is based on a single person). Poetry ermerges from what I observe on a daily basis when I’m awake and paying attention. And, of course, the non-fiction articles reflect what I’ve known, my career as a nurse and those things I continue to study or learn.

This realization has led me to update my profile–to acknowledge where I’ve been that’s led to what I write.

Blessings. Happy writing and enjoy the process!

Writers, READ!

Every writer knows the importance of reading and the impact it has on our own skills. Because I write literary fiction, I gravitate towards the same in my reading choices. However, I’ve discovered that it’s critical to pay attention to what is going on in my life at the moment and plunge into different genres to acheive some sort of balance.

Here’s an example. Last night, I began to read the novel “Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova. Beautifully written and intense, it’s the fictional story of a brilliant woman’s descent into dementia. The reading group I attend here in the desert will discuss it at April’s meeting. However,I don’t know if I have the psychic energy to continue. Although I’ve worked with dementia my entire nursing career and have, myself, written a flash fiction piece from the first person point of view of a woman with dementia, I am immersed in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s–my 89 year old mother.
How different it is on this side of the street! I’m not sure I can bear the sadness.

I know that, down the road, “Still Alice” will remain on my reading agenda–maybe even before that next book club meeting. More than likely, I’ll offer it as my suggestion for my Reno book club. In the meantime, I have to listen to my inner self. Tonight I’ll download something mindless. I enjoy a good mystery now and again. Rarely, a romance. It’s important to read great writing to enhance our own skills, but even when it’s less than stellar–isn’t it fun to critique?