Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “mother”

She Hates Mother’s Day

I am a big admirer of local author, Anne Lamott. Along with a number of novels, Anne has also written what many writers consider one of the top How-to books on the market, Bird-By-Bird.


She seems a stable, level-headed woman at first glance, until you discover that she hates Mothers Day.

“…Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path.”

“I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s.”

But before you think that she is picking on Mums, don’t worry. She hates Valentines Day as well. This is a must read article, especially if you know a woman who isn’t a mother, or who is estranged from her children.  Or maybe someone who’s mother is dead. She also needs a hug and would happily share a drink with a non-judging friend, who wants to be with them for who they are and not the title they hold.

Oh, and if you’re reading – Happy Mother’s Day, Mum!

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Amy Chua – A Great Response And A Serious Revelation

I can’t resist. I wrote earlier about Amy Chua and her  Here is a great response from a woman who is not a mother, possibly not an Ivy League lawyer, and definitely not an experienced podcaster. But it is very cute.

Here is possibly a more balanced reaction to Chua’s assertions. And there is one study which has startling revelations. I would love to hear your response to the study.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

Writing: The Solitary Path?

Picture the author: He (or she) is quiet, brooding, drinks and smokes too much, sits in a dark attic and pounds the keyboard. His hair is wild, uncombed, his razor unused, and his clothes ill-fitting and ill-matched. When forced out of his lair, he is socially awkward and impatient.

We’ve seen it in a dozen movies, read it in a hundred novels. Right?

But it’s wrong! It is a stereotype, possibly based upon someone, but I don’t believe it is the norm. True my social life mostly revolves around family, work, neighborhood, the boy’s school friends, synagogue, but I seem to have married or stumbled into these relationships, dictated by wife, children and geography. Let me stress that I love these people and value their friendship.

But there is something special when writers get together, something different. Whether this occurs at a chance meeting by the park playground, or by semi-chance while at a book signing, an author’s appearance or lecture.

Or whether it is organized – at my Writer’s group, at a California Writers Club meeting, a conference. Perhaps it is not even in person and happens online through a forum on LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo Groups or a dozen others

I love it when someone says: “Hey, I’ve just read your book.” I hope that thrill never disappears. But it’s an even greater thrill when a fellow writer tells me approvingly that they’ve read it. To hear someone praise your work when they truly appreciate, not just the plot, but the work that went into creating and finishing, and polishing, and putting it out there, and publishing, and marketing and…and…and…

I assume it is like this for all artists. When I tell a painter that I like her painting, or a musician that I like his music, does it matter that I can’t draw stick people without inflicting upon them unintentional deformity? Or that my tone deaf flat voice has been known to empty rooms before I even reach the chorus? Surely they appreciate the compliment more from a fellow artist or musician?

And then there is the critique, the honest suggestions from fellow writers who are investing some of their time and energy to help you craft a better story. And they are there for support – like when only two people attend a book reading that you painstakingly prepared for (and one of them is your mother).

I could never imagine writing collaboratively: my work is my own. But I could never imagine living as a writer in isolation. I would never survive the setbacks and would feel lonely even in my successes.

So here’s a Labor Day toast: to friends, to the rich literary scene and the Internet that helps bring us together.

Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

And They’re Off…

I really feel, in many ways, like a racehorse, fresh out of the paddocks and charging around the racetrack. Last Friday was the beginning. In the preceding days I sent emails to everyone I know and asked them to consider buying Oilspill dotcom on Friday, which happened to be my birthday.

My Amazon.com ranking improved from around #1,200,000 to #4,500, so it couldn’t have just been my mother! I promised myself that I would not go into Amazon to check more than once an hour – a logical decision given that Amazon only updates their numbers once an hour – and, well, I rarely went in more than 2 or 3 times an hour.

Along with the messages from friends telling me that they’d bought the book, were numerous emails congratulating me and offering many words of encouragement. I feel blessed with a large group of people who care about me and are excited for my progress.

Now I need to move on and focus on my book launch party, this coming Saturday night at 7.30pm. As already mentioned in past postings, the venue is the Bread Workshop, on University Avenue, Berkeley.

The Bread Workshop (1398 University Avenue, Berkeley) is a small community-orientated café and bakery that tries to use only sustainable products and produce. It is a favorite haunt of mine and I am proud that we are holding the launch at such a venue. There is a poster of me in the window staring out as you drive past (trust me and keep your eyes on the road) and I get a thrill every time I pass by.

I plan to have friends reading passages from the book and I am excited at the prospect of sharing the book face-to-face with people who are not in my writer’s group or family.

So if you are around on Saturday, please drop by and be a part of the experience.

It’s beginning to feel real!

Good Writing,
Alon

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