Orly Assis – The Space I Write In

Note: Hyperlinks that end with an asterisk lead to Hebrew web pages.


אורלי עסיס (1)
Orly is a poet, a screenplay writer and an author. Her short story “The Tenant”* came 2nd in the 2012 Haaretz Short Story Contest (a prestigious annual competition hosted by one of Israel’s main newspapers). Her first book of poems, “Minor Disgraces”, is about to be published by Iton 77 Publishing House. She also publishes original poetry and prose in her blog Amygdala Visits Once Every 2 Days*. Orly lives on Kibbutz Barkai, Israel.




1. Space

I write in my bedroom in Kibbutz Barkai, about an hour north of Tel Aviv, in my bed. I have always written in bed. Even when I arranged a table for myself with a comfortable chair and a reasonable view – I continued writing in bed. I don’t write in cafes or other external work spaces – I discovered that the distractions are too great; I always wait for the coffee to arrive, for the scrambled eggs to be served; I listen to conversations of those sitting beside me, craving for a moment in their lives; I swat flies, pray that someone I know will pass by, order another Cola Zero so as not to write, and return home just as I left, minus 60 NIS. Bad idea.


2. Window

I need a window in order to write – a big, airy and illuminated window. This time I got lucky, my window overlooks a tree, which I stare at many times a day, when I’m stuck, when I’m reflecting (very often), when I’m bored. Through the window I hear distant sounds of birds chirping, dogs barking, the traffic passing on route 65.


3. Cupboard

On my cupboard I paste poems I cut out of newspapers. Eli Eliyahu, David Avidan, Tom Hadani, among others. I tend to look at them when the thought stops flowing and because someone once told me that when your books stand opposite you – every time you look at them you remember the tale they tell. When my poets stand opposite me – I never forget what I love.


4. Television

I am aware of the fact that it’s a nasty habit, but old habits die hard. I usually write with the TV on and the volume so low it can hardly be heard. I barely look at the flickering screen but the fact that I can feel it, the sense that it’s there, the connection to the world and the knowledge that if World War III breaks out I won’t miss it because I was just writing the 4th paragraph of my short story – gives me a little comfort (and that’s a lot). Besides, the TV is a small treasure of ideas, and despite the slander it receives for dulling our minds, I admire it and its power no less than I admire the written word. The minute it becomes possible I’ll be the first to purchase a ticket, enter the little screen and set out on a journey.


5. Work Hours

I prefer to write from 5:00 pm into the night – and not in the morning. Morning and noon are too difficult for writing and will usually be dedicated to some day job with which I can make a living. I also need a close and tangible horizon in order to write – the idea of dedicating 18 hours to writing is hard if not completely flustering and isn’t doable for me. The missions have to be dissected into small realistic portions and must include built in attractive breaks. For example, writing from 6:00 pm till 8:00 pm – Eight O’clock News – writing from 9:00 pm till 11:00 pm – movie – etc.
I don’t write every day. Not every two days either. Some periods are fertile and some are not. I try not to pressure myself or beat myself up when the pen is heavy on the trigger, and tell myself this is probably a time of ‘input’, a time to learn and take things in, and that the ‘output’ period is still to come.


6. Dog

My dog has no idea what I’m writing about (1st book of poetry, a play and a book of short stories to be published in the next 30 years), he doesn’t seem exceptionally interested either, but the sounds that he makes as part of his existence – scratching, licking, snorts, sighs – have become regular background noises of my daily routine, and of my writing routine. They give me confidence and lessen the loneliness.


7. Pajamas

I write in my pajamas – like someone who needs to be deeply planted in her home in order to be able to surrender to the experience. Not like someone who just got home, or is just about to leave, but like someone who has come here in order to stay.

2 thoughts on “Orly Assis – The Space I Write In

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