Talia Sagiv – The Space I Write In

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

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Talia zigzags between academic writing (a book based on her research* was published by HaKibbutz HaMeuchad publishing house) and prose (a collection of four novellas she wrote* was published in 2010 by Yediot Books). She’s currently working on a collection of short stories, and makes her living by lecturing and giving workshops on the relationship between the individual and society. She got her PhD from the Hebrew University – Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Talia lives in Beit Zait with her husband and their three children.

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1. Table

I remember how silly, yet determined, I felt going from one furniture store to another and sitting cross-legged next to each and every living room table presented in the showrooms, in search of The One. -The one table I will be able to write on. Recently I discovered that serious workrooms (with a chair, a table, books and office equipment) make me feel stressed and I rarely write in them. This was quite a disturbing discovery, seeing as when it dawned on me we had just moved to an apartment with a small room that was meant to be mine, for writing; furthermore, back then I bought myself a gift to celebrate the publication of my first book – a huge and very expensive office chair.

But the truth is: I prefer sitting cross-legged on the carpet (or a pillow), and writing at the living room table. The table of course has to be high enough for my legs to comfortably fit under it, but not too high, so that my hands and elbows are also comfortable.

When I enter other people’s houses (or even hotel rooms) I always look around and wonder – would I be comfortable writing here? Where would I position myself? If it’s a great house with a good table, I take the trouble to inquire when the owners plan to travel. I like writing away from home: in libraries, cafés and even other people’s homes – when the legal tenants are kind enough to go abroad and leave their intimate space to me.

 

2. Work Hours

Sadly, I don’t have fixed work hours or days. Once in a while a ‘good day’ comes along, a day in which I can hear a click between every two sentences, in which my finger is light on the delete button and clearly recognizes the superfluous, the rest of my fingers fill in the gaps and my head understands where the text is going. On days like these I’ll even print out a draft to read at night in bed. On a day like this – I can’t explain where it comes from or how to stimulate its return, but when it does appear – I try to write as much as possible, from morning till night. But these days are rare. On most days I’m happy if I manage to sit down for 2-3 hours and write, or mostly edit existing materials.

In addition I make sure to artificially create good days: 3-4 times a year I go to an old and cheap (but clean) hotel by the sea (I won’t disclose the name of the hotel). I put the mattress on the floor, drag the old coffee table to the side of the bed and write almost without any breaks. Then and there I am at my best.

 

3. Domestic Landscape

What you can’t see in the photo is that if you sit down to write on the carpet (as I am doing right now) and raise your eyes from the screen, you will see the kitchen. The light coming in from the window floods the sink, the stove, the transistor and the sheepish broom. All these hints of everyday routine actions remind me that I am not obligated to write. If it doesn’t work out, I can always turn the radio on and cook something or sweep a little. On the other hand, the choice between writing and housework is easy, isn’t it? Although cleaning, as opposed to writing, is so measurable, worthy, gladdening and the achievements are so visible. After all, every writing creature sometimes wonders if maybe it would be better to put the pen down, because there are enough books in the world (and articles, and internet publications) – and to add another one, hmmm…. is it really essential to anyone? Quite a bit of hubris is required in order to assume that all the world needs right now is a few more pages written by me.

 

4. Curtain, Pictures, Mortar and Pestle

These are items that I inherited from my grandmothers. The painting grandmother gave me, her dancing sunflowers and a painting of two gloomy friends; my father’s mother crushed nuts and almonds in this mortar for the pastries she made; and on my right is the curtain my great-grandmother embroidered – every time I look at it I think how boring the craft of embroidery is to me and then return to my writing.

These items are nostalgia – multi-generation feminine nostalgia. And it betters me and my writing in a romantic and slightly sticky way – these women, who created me – this is what they did with their time. And now they are no longer here. Thus the words of Walt Whitman touch me through the legacy they left me –

“That you are here – that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

I live, I write, the doubts evaporate. When all of this hits me in the right spot, I run to my computer, shaking off all forms of self-criticism. I must write.

 

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L. L. Fine – The Space I Write In

Liron Fine

L. L. Fine is an author (check out his Amazon profile), scriptwriter and partner in a startup company. He lives in Modi’in, Israel and subsidizes his beloved family. (Photo taken by Bella Fine)

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1. The Space

My study is situated in the smallest room of the smallest apartment in the (almost) smallest building in the (almost) smallest city in Israel. It’s cluttered and windowless, but a huge fan injects turbulent wind into it from the doorway and the garden beside it. I never lock the door; it’s the only aperture in the room.

 

2. Writing Schedule

My best writing hours are at night, but night-writing doesn’t work with family life so I’ve established daytime writing habits. My day is divided as follows: at 8 a.m. I send my kids to school and then I work until they return around noon. Then it’s time for my siesta – yay! At 4 p.m. I get up and write some more until 6-7 p.m. On rare occasions I add another writing session at night.

 

3. Work Screen

It’s nice and big. I use it during 70% of the time when working on my clients’ professional projects and on my new book.

 

4. Fun Screen

Not as nice and not as big. It tends to disturb the work screen, but I accept it with love. I usually write with Facebook open, it makes me feel like I have an audience.

 

5. Cellphone Earphones

Because sometime I have to talk on the phone… I also use them when I need to separate myself from the family noises coming from outside the room.

 

6. Backup Computer

As a matter of fact it’s one of my three backup computers. Incidentally this one is a Mac. It defends my materials against viruses that have amorous feelings for windows. Sometimes I write on it too, but not in my study – in my garden. Anyway, I find it more comfortable to type on an ergonomic keyboard and look at a big screen.

 

7. Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard

It’s a must. It enables one to type very comfortably and provides me with a great advertising contract with Microsoft, they’ve just forgotten to pay me for the last decade or so…

 

8. Bills

To remind me why I work.

 

9. A Cup of Strong Black Coffee

The second out of the four cups I drink every day.

 

10. Music

I usually write with meditation music in the background. Lately I’ve discovered Native American music.

 

11. All the Rest is Junk

Or that it’s so important that there’s no point in stashing it away in a drawer. When I write I concentrate and the physical world disappears, so the junk doesn’t bother me. And when I’m not writing? Well, it doesn’t bother me then either seeing as I’m not writing…

Adi Hillel – The Space I Write In

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Adi is a scriptwriter, script-editor and creative writing instructor. She writes film & TV scripts, short stories, long letters and casual poems. She is also the co-founder of  Hubitus – a space to write in. Adi lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

 

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1. Space

My writing space is located on the second floor of a small apartment in south Tel Aviv, above a spice market. Unfortunately it has no doors, but it has borders. Going in, I know writing is about to take place.

 

2. Work hours

I prefer writing in the morning, when my mind is clear and my subconscious is still approachable. When the day moves along I tend to lose my concentration and my mind drifts to more prosaic places. I especially hate the afternoon hours – between 1pm and 4pm, when the sun is high and bright and there are no shadows. When the night falls, you can usually find me contemplating, not here but in my bath. If needed, I write my thoughts on the walls of the tub with erasable crayons. I envy those who write during the small hours of the night, when the world is asleep. I wish I could do that, but me, I’m more of an early bird.

 

3. Couch

Every day, with my first cup of coffee, I write 3 morning pages in handwriting in a designated notebook; I write them on this couch. Following the advice of the person who introduced the morning pages to the world – the writer and mentor Julia Cameron, these pages are not of an artistic nature. They are not a diary, nor a documentation of my life; they’re just what they are – bits of sentences, lost thoughts, unspeakable desires, old obsessions, random memories and broken words. I’ve been doing it now for 2 years, and I have filled 5 notebooks, leaving no margins to breathe in. When I find it hard to wake up and pull myself out of bed, they are the ones who do it for me. Deprived of any censorship or self-criticism, they are my anchor in my everyday life.

 

4. Coffee

I need coffee to write; it’s a life-long addiction and a daily ritual. After a long day of writing, my desk is covered with more than 6 half-empty cups. Whenever I feel I can’t sit and write, I “force” myself to go to a nearby café where I treat myself to a strong café au lait and a carrot cake, a bribe for the writer inside me, to start justifying the money she has just spent. It usually works.

 

5. Hourglass

When it comes to writing, I feel like time is on my side. Before I start writing, I usually determine a time quota – 2 hours for example, or a daily schedule – from 9am to 12am. I use an hourglass, and whenever I need to, I watch the white sand as it pours down. It relaxes me and keeps me focused at the same time. When I take a break, I lay it down horizontally, to better separate my net writing time from the gross. I’ve noticed that 2 gross writing hours usually add up to 1.5 hours of pure writing, and 6 hours become 3.5. I believe that better understanding this mechanism can help me manage my time more precisely and meet my goals.

 

6. Computer

I write on a pc laptop, using Microsoft Word 2010, with a scriptwriting program named Dialogue. I often use the internet (google chrome), mainly for research and idea hacking. I tend to have more than 10 tabs open simultaneously, and I save the most inspiring pages, like this one, as potential starters for future stories. Most of my characters’ names, by the way, were chosen from name-your-baby web sites. A few years ago, I decided to teach myself touch typing, using web apps, and since then I write in the rhythm of my thoughts. Whenever I’m stuck, I just let my fingers go with the flow, without thinking.

 

7. Phone

I’m not easily distracted by phone calls while I’m writing. I just don’t answer (it’s usually the bank anyway, and we have nothing to talk about). But I do use my Smartphone for time management and inspiration, with apps like Work Logger and Inspiro.

 

8. Board

I have a great passion for boards. Their nature – to be erased – ignites my imagination and urges me to free associate. When needed, I take a picture of the board, before I erase it.

 

9. Drawers

I tend to work on various projects simultaneously. Each project receives its own drawer (I can literally say I write to my drawers). Most of these drawers are filled with half-baked texts, such as: 1) A mystery novel about an isolated kibbutz in the desert. 2) A script for a feature film about a broker who ends up killing her boyfriend during a trip to Georgia. 3) Short stories, waiting to be gathered into an anthology named: All the Stories that Didn’t Win 1st prize in any Competition (or 2nd, or 3rd). 4) An autobiography which deconstructs and reconstructs my family structure. 5) Poems never to be read by anyone, semantic souvenirs from all my broken-hearted episodes.

 

10. Bookshelf

These are my dictionaries. I use them constantly. Among them you can find bilingual dictionaries, a visual dictionary, a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus. An unknown word is a good excuse to start an unknown story, and a fine word always opens your appetite for more. I also keep books concerning my writing themes near me, for example the Deuterocanonical books or a birds manual. Books about writing are kept next to my desk, on my bed and even in my bathroom, so that I’ll never feel alone in the writing process. They give me strength. They ease the pain.

You can find Adi on LinkedIn right here…