Thursday, July 11, 2013

Still Writing That Journal

It's almost four weeks since my mother passed away in Tempe, AZ, very quietly and undramatically while napping after breakfast.  Since I played no part in planning the funeral, and due to American laws and customs, the funeral was a half a week later.  That left me in a very strange halachik Jewish Law status.  There wasn't all that much I was permitted to do, or really felt like doing.  It also took a couple of days until I knew for sure when the funeral would even be, which delayed the purchase of plane tickets to New York.

I kvetched on facebook about my forced inactivity, no going to work, no reading fun books, no watching TV or movies etc.  David Bedein--Behind the News in Israel quickly came up with a suggestion:
"You're a writer; keep a journal.  If you don't have a laptop to take around when you're traveling, get an old-fashioned notebook."

So I sent my husband to the local store and he got me a small (half-size) notebook.  It's a amazing how quickly it began to fill.  I wrote a lot.  I started it when I was home. I wrote when in the airport, on the plane, at my sister-in-law's, again in the airport, airplane then home in between shiva visitors.  I even had to ask my sister-in-law to buy me another one. (She got me a set of three from Staples.) I take the notebook all the time with me and write on buses and when waiting and at home and babysitting at my daughter's.  I admit that sometimes days pass when I haven't found or made the time to write, but when I write there's so much to write.

When I began writing it, I figured that it would be a good activity for the first thirty days, aka שלושים Shloshim.  In my mother's case it's really more than thirty days, since the halachik end of shloshim is calculated according to burial, and hers was delayed a couple of days.  Since I haven't committed to saying a daily Yizkor, I did not think I needed the year of reflection that Ari L. Goldman used to frame his memoir of his father, Living a Year of Kaddish, which my friend lent me, so I'd have something permitted/suitable to read.

The Goldman book was the perfect book for me to read at the time.  It's honest and reflective.  It doesn't claim perfection, not of his father nor himself.

Ari Goldman is a well-known published writer, not a blogger.  He wrote an excellent book, which I recommend reading. 

I do plan on "doing something" with this journal I'm writing, most probably make it into an e-book, which can be accessed through one of those e-publishers, or whatever.  If by some strange unexpected miracle, the book gains some commercial popularity then maybe there would be a paper version.  But the main reason for writing this journal is, like my blogging, to keep me sane and express my thoughts and feelings.  It's not meant to be a classic biography or autobiography.  It is a memoir with all the quirks characteristic of that genre.
Memoir (from French: mémoire: memoria, meaning memory or reminiscence), is a literary nonfiction genre. More specifically, it is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private that took place in the author's life. The assertions made in the work are understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of autobiography since the late 20th century, the genre is differentiated in form, presenting a narrowed focus. Like most autobiographies, memoirs are written from the first-person point of view. An autobiography tells the story of a life, while memoir tells a story from a life, such as touchstone events and turning points from the author's life. The author of a memoir may be referred to as a memoirist.
I've been including things that some people may find unpleasant, but that's all from my truth, how I remember my mother, my life.  None of us are perfect, and if life was perfect, it would make a very boring read.

PS re: the old-fashioned pen and paper method of writing
I actually find it much more efficient and less distracting than when I type on a computer.  At first my handwriting was terribly "rusty."  I wasn't used to writing more than a few words by hand.  But now I really enjoy sitting with my little spiral notebook and pen.  Of course there will be a need to type it all up, but that will be the first stage of editing, no doubt. I'm not the type to hold a laptop on my lap in all sorts of places.  I don't even have one of those lightweight computers.  I do my "heavy typing" on a pc in the den.  The dining room laptop, lives on the dining room table during the week.  It's more tiring to type on that the pc.  I was taught touch-typing in the 7th grade, JHS 74, over half a century ago. I need a good standard, old-fashioned keyboard.  Or I need a pen and paper.


rutimizrachi said...

Keep writing your journal. It will have value, if only to capture your dear mother for her great-grandchildren, and your voice for yours.

Sara Layah said...

very therapeutic, too.

Batya said...

Ruti, well, honestly, it may be too honest for that.
Sara Laya for sure, thanks

Sandra said...

While I was sitting Shiva for my Mum alone (I am an only child) some years ago, I kept a journal. Mine was only short, but contained only the positive or amusing memories. I look at it from time to time and gain great comfort from it. More importantly, it keeps alive memories of small things which may have slipped away in the rushed everyday and over a period of time. On her Yartzeit, I particularly like to sit quietly and read it. It helps me to keep my memories vivid.

Batya said...

Sandra, that does sound nice. Since my relationship with my mother was apparently different, my story will be, too. There are people who find my story comforting, showing that they aren't alone, the only ones...

Sandra said...

Batya, I too may have some difficult memories. But I only wrote the good in the hope that what would be read by me and be my reminder, would be the good. I do agree though that people will be comforted by knowing that some relationships can be difficult and they are not alone in that experience. Whichever works for you is good. Fast well!

Batya said...

Thanks, Sandra, I've noticed the journal changing.