Writer, Jessica Fishman is here with us to talk about her writing and her newest novel Chutzpah and High Heels.
Having grown up in calm, dreary, and cold Minnesota, Jessica decided to give up the comforts of American life in the Midwest and move to a land in the Middle East that is full of idiosyncrasies, terrorists, and beautiful, olive-skinned men.
When she arrived in Israel, at twenty-two years old, she was a wide-eyed immigrant hoping to survive on idealism, ideology, and optimism.
Instead of working the land on a Kibbutz or being swept off her feet by a strong, yet sensitive Israeli soldier, Jessica is faced with a barrage of ridiculous obstacles – fighting a bureaucracy worse than FEMA’s, embarrassing herself daily with kindergarten-level Hebrew, serving as a soldier in an army in which she could have babysat her commanders, working under bosses who made Ahmadinejad seem like a peacemaker, and dating Israeli men who made Hamas terrorists seem like potential husband material.
With a self-deprecating wit, Jessica takes us on a personal journey through these challenges, one of which will shake the core of her identity and threaten the very ideology that brought her to Israel. This universal story – about a young woman losing and searching for identity, overcoming heartbreak, and finding her place in the world – gives a seldom-before-seen snapshot of Israeli culture.
And onto the interview....
My ideas come from my experiences. But considering, that my book is a memoir that would only make sense! My memoir is sort of a combination of a chick-lit and travel genre. It is chick-lit because it has the same sarcastic and light tone as chick-lit, but it is also travel as it deals with going to a different and new place to really find your true self.
However, not every experience of mine was worthy of a memoir. I was inspired to write Chutzpah and High Heels: The Search for Love and Identity in the Holy Land after a life-changing event in Israel. I decided that I wanted to share my experience in order to inspire social change.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
My writing style depends on what I’m writing and what stage I am in the writing process. My first draft of this book was just a purge of my experience. It was very cathartic. I then took a step back from it and gave it some space. When I came back to it after a long vacation in India, I started outlining each chapter. This was important to transform the manuscript from diary-style writing to a structured book that had a story thread and page-turning tension.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
I really enjoy the editing process. I like revising, finding better ways to express myself. That being said, sometimes just sitting down to do the editing process is hard, but once I do it, I always enjoy it. This may because I also worked with some very skilled editors. For me, one of the hardest parts was trying to look at the story from the reader’s point of view. It forced me to look deep into myself and gain insights into some of my deepest darkest secrets that I don’t think I was willing to beforehand. But in the end, I felt the only way I could be honest with my reader was to be fully honest with myself.
What is the hardest thing about writing your current book?
When I write, I fully experience what I’m writing about. So, when I write about a really emotional event that took place, I’m transported back to that very scene. I hear, taste, smell, see, and feel everything that I felt at that time. While this helps to more tell the story more accurately with more emotions, sometimes it can also be very draining.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Since I’m very passionate about the topics that I was writing about, such as feminism and human rights, I felt as if my story had a purpose larger than myself. Trying to turn a negative experience into positive change made it a lot easier. I loved having an outlet to use my sarcasm to deal with any past pain and trying to make it into something funny too.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
This was my first novel. It took me about a year to write it and edit it. But then, once I thought it was done, I got more feedback on it and began editing it again. However, at that point in time I was working full time. So the editing process took me another year since I could only work on it a few hours a week.
Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it?
I’m not sure if I get writers block. But there are times when I procrastinate more or less. There are some scenes that I really dive into and can just write and write for hours. While there are other scenes that when I was writing them, every other paragraph I would check Facebook, my phone, basically anything I could get my hands on. Sometimes that was because it was a hard topic and other times it was because I felt that I wasn’t getting the scene just right. However, research shows, that sometimes procrastination can lead to creativity. So, I embraced those times too!
Thanks Jessica for joining me today.
Thanks for having me.
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