David Tarbay – The Space I Write In

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

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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.

Inbal Ganor – The Space I Write In

אני

Inbal Ganor is a screenplay writer and editor. She did her Bachelors and Masters at the Tel Aviv University’s Film and Television Department, where she went on to teach screenplay writing. Inbal lives and writes in Tel Aviv.

Capture1. Cafés

At home I get up, walk back and forth, open the fridge door, look inside, close the fridge door. In a café I am bolted to my seat in a representable and obedient way, ashamed to even go on Facebook. The people around me, the motion, the buzz – bring back my inner serenity; I am part of the human brotherhood, everything is ok.

I tend to choose cafés in which it’s ok to sit for hours, very unpopular cafés and if possible a little musty.

There’s no heat wave outside, I’m not in a busy Tel Aviv street, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath are sitting at the table next to mine, with their laptops open, sipping double espressos.

2. Books

Anything that can give me inspiration, throw me into a different world, a different time, into someone else’s existence and experiences. During writing periods I find I prefer reading non-fiction: sociology, psychiatry, religion, holocaust, psychology, holocaust and psychology. And more.

3. Music

I like having a soundtrack accompanying me and influencing my mood, the characters’ mood and the atmosphere as a whole. The disadvantage of this is that sometimes when I finish what I was working on, I can’t listen to that music ever again.

4. iPhone Notes

If ideas, fragments, dreams I dreamt, or maybe a story someone told me that affected me in some way pop into my mind – I quickly write them down in shorthand on an iPhone note. Sometimes I even manage to make the connection between what I wrote and whatever the hell it was I was thinking at the time.

5. The Lives of Others

Thankfully, most of the people around me are interesting characters with interesting points of view, and there’s nothing I love more than hearing people tell about their everyday dramas and the dramas of the people in their lives. If they’re funny, it’s even better.

6. Wisława Szymborska

This poster I once made (instead of working) at a workplace I no longer work at, goes with me wherever I move. Her presence, her naughty gaze and defiant cigarette, make me feel good. People who carry themselves gracefully and not too gravely, make me happy. Even if I don’t get to meet them personally. And I haven’t even said a word about her writing (who am I, what am I).

Rotem Malenky – The Space I Write In

 

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Rotem is a writer, video director, cameraman and editor. He has been writing since he was 11 and gradually moved from writing short horror stories to radical poems, documentary and fiction scripts and recently blogging. He believes you can fly.

WritingSpace#

1. Movie Posters
It’s important to surround yourself with inspirational images, even if you don’t write for cinema. Your book’s readers are mostly people who are interested in colour, design, shape and form. How many posters can you recognize in this pic?

2. To Do List
Just one of the many tools I use in a desperate attempt to be more efficient.

3. To Do Pile
The obese, 3D brother of the To Do List.

4.  A Good Chair
More important than one may think. Get yourself one today and don’t compromise, or your bad chair will send you off and away many times a day, without you realizing why.

5. The Good Screen
This is where I write, read, fill in my schedule, back up and get down (to business).

6. The Bad Screen
Satan’s own. This is where my time goes to waste. I need it for video editing though.

7. Me
As a 4 year old. This is also a very inspirational image for me. Sometimes I look at this boy’s eyes and try to guess what he would say and do in the scene that I’m writing.

8. A Fax Machine
Yeah, I have one.

Ella rose Levenbach – The Space I Write In

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Ella is a frustrated writer, who published a few stories about a decade ago and has been meaning to get back to it ever since. She used to be (and will be again because she misses it dearly) a teacher of art, creative writing, project learning and social activism. Ella is also a translator & editor and the co-founder of Hubitus – a space to write in. She currently lives and works in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

 

ella

 

1. Bed.

It’s not that I don’t have a desk. I have a desk which is fully equipped and ready for use. Except for a chair. I’m missing a chair, but that’s beside the point. I was never a table and chair kind of person. As a child I would do my homework on the floor despite the gentle parental objections and educational explanations. I’d sit on the floor, cross-legged with my notebook in front of me, leaning my elbow beside it and my head on my hand. That was the most comfortable way for me to think and write. I guess it made me feel grounded.

As I grew up I became less flexible physically and more flexible mentally, so now you can find me trying to write on couches, buses, cushions, or even at tables… but mostly on my bed in various positions: upright & leaning on the wall; stretched out sideways; legs spread out straight in front of me, laptop on a heavy book on my knees, back bent forwards towards it; lying on my belly, feet dangling in the air, head held up, notebook on the floor, my hand holding a pen trying to reach it. And there are still many options to explore and discover. In my bed I feel most at home and least aware of myself, which is essential for me to be able to enter a creative mode.

 

2. Notebook\Sketchbook.

When I was younger I wanted to be an artist. I had the whole romantic dream going of being fully and totally embraced by the powers of creativity. It was wonderful, powerful and rich but gradually the intensity of this experience subsided, due to the equally strong (if not stronger) powers of self-criticism and self-doubt. I left art and writing for many years. It felt a bit like an angry divorce with many issues left unaddressed and exposed.

Lately I’ve been trying to return to the inner zones of creativity. The notebook is the arena I search in. It’s where I try to find the door to ‘the zone’, let out all the self-inflicted venom, clear my mind. I prefer sketchbooks with thick paper and no lines so I can doodle and write and just hangout on the page in different colors and textures. The notebook can’t be too fancy so that I won’t feel obligated to create something good. I like to have fun pens and pencils. They keep me curious and playful.

 

3. A Laptop Named Samantha.

My laptop and I are kind of close… I love Sam’s rhythm, the gentle clicking sounds her keyboard buttons make. Sometimes the potential sounds are enough to get me writing even when I feel I have nothing to say.

 

4. iPhone.

I use my phone to jot down thoughts on the go. Later these thoughts are used as anchors for writing session. Evernote & Notes are my preferred apps. Evernote because of the option to combine mediums, I find it easier to write when I can start with a picture; and Notes because that’s all they are, notes. There is no order in them. I often forget about them and then later return to find words I can’t imagine were written by me. It’s a puzzling and sometimes inspiring experience.

 

5. Café.

When the writing just doesn’t happen and the home brewed coffee isn’t a strong enough incentive there’s no choice but to get out of bed, get dressed and go to a café. That’s the only place where I work like a normal person, sitting on a chair with Samantha on the table in front of me and a quality macchiato beside her. It can’t be any café. It has to be comfortable, but the parameters of comfort aren’t quite clear to me. It’s more of an intuitive and spontaneous decision even though it often tends to be the same one. Some of the questions that buzz through my mind before I sit down: Are the other customers busy enough not to notice me? Does the staff seem judgmental? Will they mind if I stay long? How’s the lighting? Is there an open corner? Where can I plug Samantha in? Is it too warm in here? How many laptops can I see? Where’s the bathroom? Yes. I tend to linger.

When I finally sit down in a café and write I am very aware of myself, but I feel like a writer. I stop being me for a while and become this cool character from a story about a writer who sits in cafés and writes captivating and important stuff. Suddenly it becomes easier for the words to appear in my brain and find their way to the page without becoming too heavy and serious on the way.

 

6. Friends.

Another way to free the words in me when they really want to stay clustered inside and chained to themselves is to write beside friends. It can be one friend who is working on something too or a group of friends doing anything. As long as I’m not expected to interact it’s helpful. It takes the severity of writing out of the equation and puts me in a more nonchalant writing mode.

 

7. Books.

Oh how I love my books. Their smell, their feel, their prestige, all the words they hold inside. I have many books. Among them quite a few about creativity and writing. Their presence soothes me. The thought that they may carry a solution, even one small tip that will enable me to write. One of the books I have opened and read many times is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Every now and again when I feel motivated yet completely stuck, I randomly open it and find my way into writing.

 

8. Bedside Lamp.

My yellow lamp follows me from every apartment I leave, to every apartment I move to. I have had it with me since I was a little girl.  I like reading and writing beside it even when I don’t need its light. It symbolizes the feeling of home for me, reminds me who I am in a way. It shines a light on the things I want to do for myself.

 

9. Red Reading Glasses.

They aren’t really necessary. Their number is very small and the difference in vision very slight. But they make me see more clearly on a metaphoric level. So when I find it difficult to concentrate on my writing I put them on. They help me focus.

 

10. The Walls.

In the days when I was creating more intensely, every surface was a potential page. I saw letters not only as symbols which create verbal meaning but also as visual patterns. Painting and writing belonged to the same world. They belonged to me and I belonged with them. My walls were full of secretive phrases and intimate graffiti that were actually a conversation between me and my room.

Now ‘La Linea’ is on my wall. He was situated there by Michal, my flat mate a year before I settled in. I like to have him there. I know he’s probably criticizing me and complaining about life, but he has a sense of humor and so reminds me I have one too.  I’m looking forward to a future moment in which I will feel comfortable enough with my pen or pencil to give him a visual-verbal companion. The moment is close. I can feel it in the tips of my fingers.

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.

 

orly

 

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.

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.

 

בלוג תמונה

 

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…