2000 was a great year for me. I had a dream job as a co editor in a literary magazine. I was working on a thesis for my Master degree. A paperwork I wrote during one of my courses was published as an article in an academic magazine. I had already published one children book, completed my second book and was in the process of finding a publishing house for it. I was very happy that year.
That year I also met my husband Ari online (on mIRC). A year later we were married and I moved from Israel to the US to be with him. The move was good for my thesis work. In the US I found a wide range of books and research than I had in Israel. In my work I explored the image of women in Irish national poetry and its development in history. Research of Irish Literature, culture, and history is not very developed in Israel as it is in the US. I kept on writing fiction in Hebrew, though the geographical distance from the Israeli culture made me feel like an orphan, a cultural orphan. My editorial skills were in the Hebrew language, not in English. I went though a period of grief. The immigration striped me off from my lingual professional skills.
At a young age I promised myself that will never become an immigrant. I was very much aware of the social setback, the hardship, and struggle that my family had experienced for three generations since the immigration from Yemen to Israel in 1949. It is not easy to live on the outskirts of society and be a sub citizen in a country you call home. My parents never had the chance to peruse higher education, but they knew that this would be the key for their children's ability to assimilate in the mainstream society. They worked really hard to be able to afford higher and wider education for their children.
I did learn English in Israel. Most of my learning books were in English. Understanding a foreign language is different from speaking it. Writing is by far the hardest thing to do in a foreign language. Writing in the mother tongue language is scary. writing in a foreign language is terrifying on the verge of paralyzing. The biggest mistake people do, when speaking or writing in a foreign language, is crafting their sentences using their mother tongue’s syntax. Some kind people would say it is poetic. English teachers would simply say it is a bad English.
For me writing in the local language means to take part in the society I live within. But for many years in the US I was terrified to write in English. I was terrified of making mistakes. For many years I lived feeling like a handicapped, not being able to use a major part of me. The change came in 2005, at the dog park where I met Paul. He told me about writing classes he took at the University of Washington in Seattle. I wasn’t sure if my English was good enough to write literature, but Paul had no doubt that I will do fine. I took the challenge. My first writing teacher was the author Scott Driscoll. In 2008 I took the UW screenwriting class with Mark Handley (Nell) and Mary Elder. These two classes were life-transforming experiences for me. With the guidance and encouragement I got from the teachers and students I realized that I was able to communicate with people who grew up in different cultures through my writing.
Despite my initial literary despair, today I look at my immigration as a blessing. I had an opportunity to experience myself what it means to be an immigrant. This process sharpened my sensitivity to different social and environmental issues. Had I stayed in my birth country I would have never been aware of them. My ability to see events from different points of view is much wider than ever before. My teacher Mark used to say that problems are opportunities. Eventually it was my choice to stop grieving and feel sorry for myself, and start taking advantage of what I have around me. When I started writing this blog I decided that it is time for me to dare and write in English to the public. I have stories to tell.