You don’t have to be Jewish to love the tradition of dipping apple slices into honey. This Sunday night we celebrated the start of the Jewish New Year – a/k/a Rosh Hashanah (rosh = head; ha = the, shanah = year. thus endeth my Hebrew lesson.)
The custom of dipping apples into honey is to express our hopes for a healthy, sweet and fruitful new year. Since I’m way too old to be the fruitful in the biblical sense, I will settle for a sweet and healthy new year instead.
Unfortunately, the new year in my family has gotten off to a rocky start. My friend Liz reassures me that if your year starts off poorly, it can only get better. I am relying on her prognostication abilities.
Let me also take retract what I just said about not expecting this to be a fruitful year. Not in the sense of producing human offspring (now that would be a miracle) – but in the sense of producing another kind of product. You see, this fall I returned to school. Not just “taking a class” but I made the leap to formally enroll – with the photo student I.D. to prove it – in a university graduate school program to “pursue” (such a lofty word) a M.A. in Writing.
I am thrilled to be back in school.
If only there had been a high-paying career called “student” where I could have earned a salary to go to class, do homework diligently and study hard for exams, I would have done that instead of becoming a lawyer. Studying is something I find fun. Learning is even better. And wow, am I learning.
The class I am taking is called “Techniques of Fiction”. What, I can hear you say, there are techniques involved in the writing of fiction? Yes there are. Moving right along in the syllabus from character, setting/place, plot and structure to scene v.s summary, point of view, voice, dialogue and description – and I am loving every classroom minute of it.
The great irony is that while I am taking a course in the writing of fiction, my real life seems to be blurring a bit into the territory of fiction. Or what I wish was fiction (e.g. events that really did not happen to me.)
My fabulous (she really is) professor told us that it is acceptable to steal from your real life to write fiction.
That seems like cheating to me. Although right now it seems appealing to base a short story or novel on deeply upsetting real life events where you get to change the way the characters behave, modify the plot and write a totally different ending. That would be a form of therapy, I guess.
But I don’t view writing fiction as therapy. I am taking this Fiction course in order to learn a craft, to become very good at it and to produce work that other people will want to read because it is well-written, not because it is an endless, Nancy-filled, woe-is-me-story.
We all have our problems, don’t we?
If you had looked at me last Saturday night when my husband and I attended the wedding of the daughter of a close friend, when we were dancing to every song the d.j. played, raising our hands in the air to the music and pretending we knew the words, you would likely have never guessed we were going through such rocky stuff in our non-dancing lives. The photos taken will no doubt prove I had a big smile on my face.
And I bet others on the wedding dance floor who were also smiling were doing so despite whatever personal difficulties they are enduring.
So here’s to a sweet, fruitful and healthy new year for all – whatever you celebrate – and also to the reading and writing of fiction.
Now back to my homework.