I get most of my writing ideas and inspiration on Shabbos. It’s the only time I’m without the distraction of mindless entertainment, my phone to stave off loneliness, or the internet to waste time doing less productive things than actually being self-introspective and listening to my deepest innermost thoughts and feelings.
The only problem with my favorite Shabbos hobby of starting endless pieces of prose is that I can’t remember most of what I want to write once the day is done and the kids are settled.
Like the scene in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, when a famous writer lies in a field and sees the words dancing in the sky above her head and eager to not forget, she yields an invisible lasso around the sentences to literally keep them with her. That’s how I feel as different word imagery slips into my mind and threatens to leave before I’m able to jot it down in my phone.
I think what started this true love of writing was the surprising feedback from a varied number of people as I started writing a year ago.
At first, I assumed it was coming from a place of empathy perhaps, from them trying to help me along an arduous path of rediscovering who I’d be now, shocked from the suddenness of a new life, a grieving mother and newly single parent attempting to stay afloat and leading a family by example. It’s a tall order.
When I started writing, it was a coping mechanism. It wasn’t meant to travel anywhere past my iPhone notes. Past my father’s and therapist’s, maybe. When it began running in the paper, I thought that eventually I’d run out of something to write or say, that there’d be a quiet week, an uneventful one maybe. I wanted my words to matter and mean something and I didn’t want to do this just for the sake of doing it.
But things happen and this new life is a year old. We’re catching up in the baby stages of this new world of ours, and as we do, so as new life scenarios happen daily, so does the writing.
That’s when a friend started prefacing her sentences with “When you write the book,” or “In the book, I think you should start with this…” And that’s when I realized that maybe this was bigger than the daughter of a newspaper publisher placing her writings in plain sight.
Maybe it started as me writing intensely real and raw feelings on paper that people could relate to or be inspired by, but then it continued as me realizing that writing is a muscle that can be flexed the more you use it.
Like exercise for your body, writing is an exercise for your mind and can be so greatly beneficial in many ways. Writing your feelings can clarify how you feel, even if it goes no farther than a journal that only you are privy to reading. When the feels are flying at you at a frenzied pace, the best way of detangling the myriad of emotions is to write them down, one word at a time. Then you can read it all back and it starts making sense.
That’s what I did in the beginning and it’s become a regular habit. It’s what Elisheva encouraged as well. She’d pause for a dramatic moment and a smile would creep up on her face. I knew what she’d ask before she asked it.
“What are you in the middle of reading?” Motioning to her walls of books, ready to lend me things, to show me in books and in the writings of doctors, specialists, and writers that the key to so many of the things I and many others go through are in these books. Practical advice, different life experiences, and studies that were done. People who went through things in the past that I was able to reflect on and learn from, as others do from what I write in the present.
It’s a gift to get an inside look at someone’s life and observe them through adversity that you’d deem unimaginable. It helps you realize that the human spirit is way more resilient than you ever thought.
It helps you understand that although some people are only able to shake their heads and say “I can’t imagine…” there are others who are able to shine a light into their lives via their writings and tell you that they very much could imagine, they’ve gone through the worst and lived to tell the tale and publish it so others could benefit from their experiences.
As I continue writing and the grief sometimes loosens its grip around my heart, I wonder if I can come across as effectively if my writing isn’t coming from a place of pain. I want to focus on different areas of life, I want to be funny and informative and only sad when I feel it and it’s from a place of authenticity.
I hope I’m able to steer this new hobby of mine into my life’s uncharted waters. I hope I’m able to remain real and raw and true to the feelings I have, no matter how scary it might seem as they’re staring back at me for all to see.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away at the age of 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.