David Tarbay – The Space I Write In

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

Tarbay_Portrait2_210x250

David Tarbay is an author, translator and a Tel Aviv University graduate. His list of publications includes novels, stories, reviews*, articles, beside translations of some of the most well-known and valued Hungarian authors – Tibor Déry, Péter Nádas, György Spiró – plays and academic articles.

His book “Stalker” (Am Oved 2004) received praise reviews and The President’s Prize for Literature. “The Emperor’s Dream” (Keter Books, 2010) starred in the best sellers listings. His new book, “Outsiders” is due to come out under Keter Books too.

 

A Moral Space

1. Through the Window

I wrote my last book in its entirety right here. Three and a half square meters, half closed blinds, a hundred year old dilapidated table, and a quad-core computer with a damaged blue-ray drive.

On the other side of the window, two trees intertwine: it’s unclear who is suffocating who. Beyond the fence, a bush, a path. I spy through the half shut blinds, waiting for my daughter to return from school. She stops, glances through the bushes, which are growing even faster than she is. If they aren’t trimmed soon, only a slight crack will allow us to see each other.

desk

 

2. Through time

The new book takes place in 2026, in the Golan Heights, Tel Aviv and Southern Israel, but the characters get as far as Singapore, Amsterdam, Zurich and Serengeti.  I’ve been a frequent flyer since my first book, so I have practice with movements on the timeline. The plot always beats me to it, and time broadens space. I go over the locations on Google. I check the sound of the bell I refer to, hark back to the sight of the Jumbo plane taking off, watch the flight of a flock of birds landing on a placid lake in the middle of a nature reserve. I check the flight number, the diameter of the jeep’s tires, the exact route of each and every character, until I find myself inside the scene.

When I’m in the flow, I sit on the balcony of the Golan Heights house, with the character I’m most deeply connected to, the flower grower’s daughter, the invisible hero of the book, and I sit in the front seat of the detective’s car, a wide board Audi, at 5 AM, while he drives north on the open roads to investigate.

It is no longer clear who the inventor is and who has been invented. The spaces are wider than I could imagine. I grasp at pieces of reality, which may no longer be relevant at the time of the plot. I try to deduce, project and turn what is happening today, into the recollections of a character ten years from now.

The house will have been demolished, the book shelved. But I will still be searching for the characters.

plansheetThe scarred Golan Heights on Google & the original plan-sheet of the Ramat Gan apartment by Salim Goru Ltd’s, 1957. The balcony has since been enclosed.

 

3. Back to Reality

Sometimes I really look forward to getting stuck in the middle of a paragraph only so I can go out for a walk, alone, or with the kids. I can get stuck in the middle of a paragraph even after two or three weeks of not opening the book at all. It’s wonderful to get stuck in the middle. One can also get stuck on a Saturday morning, or in the rain, at 8 Pm, an hour after the heat wave has broken. I’m free to get stuck whenever it suits me. One doesn’t even have to write in order to get stuck. With the kids I go to a picturesque park. By myself I go on an hour’s walk, on a fixed route. Instinctively, I would say that this is the real space, the ongoing forward movement, the space in which the pieces of the mosaic come together.

rainThe little one in his older sister’s boots. There is no plot problem that cannot be solved by the scent of rain.

 

4. Space and Time Travelling

Some of my childhood memories are connected to ‘guesthouses for authors’, one of the blessed institutions of the staggering Hungarian socialist entity of the late 80s. With my mother, we would go to Zsennye Castle, which was surrounded by a spacious park that was bombed and almost completely destroyed during World War II in a joint heroic effort of the Germans and the Russians, but “one thousand year old” oak trees grow there till this day. With my dad we used to travel to Szigliget, to a palace built in the 18th century, which was later passed into the hands of the rich Eszterházy family. One of the family’s descendants, Peter Eszterházy, became a famous author who honored this humble castle with his presence. Well, if a perfect space to create in exists (I doubt it, but suppose it does), I find it hard to think of a better candidate, although through a child’s eye, the honorable authors and painters were no less immersed in intrigues, hearty meals and football games than they were in creating.

writingSilence,  people writing.

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Ido Angel – The Space I Write In

 

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

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Ido Angel is an Israeli author, director and entrepreneur. He was born on October 8th 1974 in Ramat Gan and attended Thelma Yellin high school where he studied theatre. He served in the IDF Theatre and studied film at HaMidrasha Art College; where he went on to teach Narratology for seven years. For five years he worked as a news editor for Channel 2, and has written and directed for TV in Israel and abroad. He has published two novels, a novella, a teen book and some short stories. In 2010 he founded the Misantrope – a workspace for writers, freelancers and students in Tel Aviv, together with his partner, Anat Cohen. Angel is divorced and the father of two girls.

His books:

  • Perhaps he should be Called Brave Yoel? (Teen book. Saar, 2008)
  • The Story of Michael* (A novel. Edited by Dana Olmert. Ahuzat Bayit, 2010)
  •  Nick, a Man and his Words (A novella. Appears in “Behind the Money Lies a Story”, an  anthology edited by Dana Olmert. Ahuzat Bayit, 2010)
  • Children’s Story* (A novel. Edited by Michal Heruti. Modan, 2012)
  • Terrible Poems* (a combination of poems, fragments of prose and illustrations. Self-published, 2014)

For TV:

  • Death of Cain (Written, directed and edited by Ido Angel. 50 minute drama. Independent production supported by the Snunit Foundation)
  • Vipo: Adventures of the Flying Dog (Written and directed by Ido Angel. An animated TV series for children. 2 seasons, 26 episodes, internationally broadcasted)

space

1. The Misantrope*

Pay attention: there is no such thing as ‘writer’s block’ – because there are no such things as ‘writing conditions’. Any condition needed in order to write is actually a disguised excuse not to write in its absence. And the guy telling you this has founded a workspace with an extremely meticulous work (writing, or studying) environment. But that’s where the difference lies: it’s an environment, not a condition.

The Misantrope is: a) Not home. Home is where you live, not where you work. Getting out of the house creates a separation that forces borders upon the act of writing, like any other work. You have limited time in a limited space. b) Not a café. Cafés are for leisure. Writing in a café is like trying to draw while on a carousel. The scenery changes constantly and stability is impossible. The Misantrope is quiet. You’re there with yourself and that’s it. c) Cheap. No waiters, the coffee’s free (as are fruit and sweets), the prices are idiotic and set and you don’t have to bother your mind with anything other than the words themselves. If you’re hungry you can take a break – we have a deal with the neighboring falafel stand, the café on the corner and even the bakery on the opposite corner.
This is where I wrote my second novel and the poetry book I have just published. Here I also conduct my Anti-Workshop for thinking about writing.

 

2. Mistakes

If I was forced to dictate one writing condition it would be to learn how to make mistakes. Mistakes are the real writing space. The search for ‘correct writing’ is no more than a sack of excuses for its nonexistence, just like striving to perfect the search for ideal writing conditions. If you try to write only the right words, you’re just being obstructive towards yourself. In order to learn writing, one must decipher its death (or if you prefer softer imagery – in order to learn what’s wrong with your writing, it first has to be wrong). Think how easier it is to look at writing obstacles this way: inspiration doesn’t always come, but mistakes can always be made.

In my opinion every writer has to learn to write in three roles: as a child, a parent, and a teacher. One needs to skip back and forth from one role to the other. To write completely intuitively, with no inhibitions and then look at the text with a mature yet loving and sensitive eye and then with a cold, critical and analytic eye – over and over again. At the end of the day, writing is a process, not a goal. And the compositions – are no more than crossroads.

 

3. An Ergonomically Padded Computer

My joints are made of cardboard. My right hand has already been operated on because of all this ink I waste on paper. My left hand is heading in the same direction.

 

4. People

Who pay me so that I can sit here quietly and write – before the books are even published!

 

5. A Peach

 

6. Gum

 

7. Water

 

8. The Mother of all Chandeliers

We bought 22 reading lamps at Ikea and welded them together

 

9. Lack of Coffee!

The machine broke down today (this never happens). Tomorrow there will be a full cup of coffee right here at any given moment.

10. The Most Comfortable Chair in the Entire Universe.

I wouldn’t mind having it welded to my ass and walking around with it like Hawking.

 

11. Surrounding all this is a Thick Transparent Cloud of Contempt for Normal Writing.

Enough with the characters who come and go from one place to another, saying sentences, experiencing things.

This is how my next book begins:
Eyes fall on the first words of this book like the bodies of two victims, as they hit the ground. A man carries his name within himself, like a disease: Gideon. He looks at the body lying in front of him, in the mirror. He’s wearing a thought like a hat: Day One. Today is Wednesday. But no day came before this day. The phone rings.