When I was in college I took a class called Fantasy Literature, which I thought would be nothing but fun and actually turned out to be a lot of hard work. On the first day of class, our professor told us that we would be reading one book a week, and a paper on that book would be due every Monday. The class collectively groaned, until he smiled and said our papers only needed to be one page long. Then we all cheered. And that’s when he got this wicked little smile on his face.
I’m always looking for good memoirs by women writers and I devoured this one in just a few days. Kvetch is about growing up an Orthodox Jew and a tormented child piano prodigy in South Africa, and offers a rare look at Jewry’s response to the events of apartheid, circa the 1960s. It also goes behind the scenes of two rarefied worlds: classical music performance—and the workings of a California metropolitan daily newspaper.
Before I became a writing coach I didn’t even know that writing coaches existed. However, I did know about editors. I had been running a writing group for a little over five years and had heard various stories—some good, some horrible—about the editing experience. Some of the writers I talked to loved their editor and couldn’t imagine getting to a final draft without them. Others had been burned and vowed never to go back. But no matter what kind of experience they had, one thing was very clear:
A few years ago I found out about synesthesia and yet another piece of the strange way I viewed the world started to make sense. The short explanation is that it’s a neurological phenomenon that causes the senses to get mixed up in some way. So, someone who has it might smell lemons when they hear a particular piece of music. Or see numbers or letters as each having their own color. For me personally, I had always felt like each letter of the alphabet (and numbers too) had a specific gender. I knew that it wasn’t something I had invented with my imagination. It was just the way things were for me.
Out of all famous people—living or dead, fictional or real—who do you feel most strongly drawn to and why?
One friend immediately piped up. “Ellen Degeneres,” she said. “Because she’s warm and approachable. She makes me feel like it’s okay to be myself.” Then she paused. “And Mick Jagger,” she added. “Because he’s a free spirit. He doesn’t need anyone else’s approval.”