I went to bed late, unsurprisingly when the fast didn’t go out until after 10pm. I don’t know if it was the heat or the fact that I slept so much during the day or the fast disrupting my body’s natural rhythms or the fact that I hardly did anything all day or all of the above, but I did not sleep. Not one wink! About 4.00am, the neighbourhood dogs started a barking contest and I had to shut all the windows despite the heat (although I never leave my main windows open for fear of burglars). At 4.40am I finally decided that I might as well get up and start the day in the hope that I might get an early night this evening.

This was not the best start to my Hebrew birthday! My Hebrew birthday falls on the nineteenth of July this year. My secular/Gregorian birthday is the twentieth, although we’re really celebrating on Wednesday as I have shiur (religious class) tomorrow evening.

I managed to stay awake at work; coffee was drunk, more than usual. I stayed awake even though the tasks today were very boring: copying and pasting from a spreadsheet to a Word mail merge and deleting old emails from my predecessor. I was glad that in the afternoon I could listen to music again, as the Three Weeks of mourning are over, as I needed help getting through it.

I went home on the Tube today as J isn’t driving to work now lockdown is officially over. I was glad to be able to read on the journey home, which I couldn’t do in the car, and not to have to listen to talk radio. Mask compliance was very bad on the Tube today, unsurprising as there are no signs up saying that masks are actually still mandatory on it.

I shaved my Three Weeks beard off this afternoon, so I no longer look like a bohemian and/or religious extremist. I Skyped E and had dinner with my parents, watched Doctor Who and will shortly go to bed as I feel very tired and ill (headache, nausea).

***

E sent me a link to something on Instagram the other day. I could read the post, but not the comments, as I’m not on Instagram. It said something I’ve thought for a long time, that rather than complain about the misrepresentation of Orthodox Jews in the media (I mean in fiction here (novels, TV, films), not the news media, which is a whole other problem), the Orthodox community should produce writers, directors, producers and so on who can create stories of their own set in the frum (religious) world — but that these stories should be real i.e. show the frum world in its complexity and with its faults, not just the positives in “soft focus.” E said the comments showed a lot of support for this.

As I say, I’ve thought this for years, and I’ve thought it long enough and hard enough to try to become one of those writers (we’ll see how that goes…). I worry whether the Orthodox world puts enough value on fiction and creativity generally for a whole wave of Orthodox creators to take off. There has been some movement in this direction, but there’s a long way still to go.

I do feel that I want to move on with my novel. I feel I’ve done as much as I can do to it without outside help from an editor. I do really just want to get it published so I can see if writing for a living, or at least a meaningful addition to my income, is going to work. This then ties into wanting to earn more money so I can marry E (partly to pull my weight in the household, but also because immigration is going to be really hard on our combined income level).

I think I also finally feel in a state of ‘flow’ first time in a long time, perhaps in my whole life. Writing is hard work, but I feel that I’m thinking of ideas and finding the words to say them. Dating long-distance is hard, but our Skype dates and texts flow very naturally. Things feel “right” at the moment in a way that I’m not used to.

11 thoughts on “Creativity in the Frum Community

  1. I think I’ve mentioned the Faye Kellerman novels to you before. They are probably “lite” on the Orthodox Judaism but do give the rest of us a peek into the culture, which is fascinating to those of us who aren’t Jewish. Happy Birthday today AND tomorrow! Slick to have two birthdays. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like the “become a content creator” message is way more positive than what I was seeing on my Facebook feed in response to the My Unorthodox Life controversy! (I haven’t seen it yet)
    I don’t think Orthodoxy is necessarily against creativity. I remember Imamother had some interesting posts from frum writers talking about the challenges of creating good content within the confines of frum publishing standards. The publishers seemed to keep moving more and more to the right, making it difficult to write good fiction (with imperfect characters, real challenges, etc.) I think what’s really needed are Jewish publishing houses and producers that are willing to show realness and challenges.
    Happy birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      Yes, I don’t think Jewish publishing houses are really willing to show challenges. I’m hoping Koren might publish more fiction, but so far I think the only fiction they’ve published is reprints of S. Y. Agnon’s work.

      Like

  3. Happy birthday!

    I was recently reading something about attitude change, and the author was saying that you can only get so far by simply misconceptions; for real change, it’s important to offer new, more realistic alternative beliefs. Creative media could be a very good way to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

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