I stayed up late last night blogging, which was probably a mistake, although I thought I wouldn’t fall asleep easily as I slept so much during the day, finally getting to bed about 2.00am, just before the fast of Tammuz (see below) started. This was probably a mistake, as at 5.30am I woke up with a headache and even after it went, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I did eventually fall asleep midmorning and sleep for another three hours or so.

This week is set to be a disrupted week. Today is 17 Tammuz, a Jewish fast day and the start of the Three Weeks of mourning (no haircuts, shaving, music, weddings, parties, etc.). Fast days always feel strange and disrupted to me, even though I haven’t been able to fast on the minor fasts for fifteen years or more because being on lithium makes the risk of serious dehydration too great. This year, my family aren’t fasting either; both the United Synagogue and the Federation of Synagogues put out warnings that people in various categories of vulnerability should not fast because of the heatwave and dehydration risk. So it feels a strange day.

J said I could work at home tomorrow because of the heatwave that we currently have in the UK, but there isn’t really any work I can meaningfully do at home right now and I didn’t want to do pointless make-work, so I suggested going in on Wednesday instead, when it should be cooler, as I don’t have therapy this week. I’m probably going to see a friend sit shiva (mourn) for his mother tomorrow. And it’s my birthday on Wednesday and my sister and brother-in-law are coming round. I’ve moved some other parts of my routine around to accommodate these changes. I hope I cope OK with everything, as disruption to my routine can be difficult. And the heat makes everything extra-hard.

***

I thought I had an idea for an article that I could sell to a Jewish website. I spent an hour procrastinating and not starting it, which was a bad sign (admittedly I did about fifteen minutes of novel research in the procrastination). I spent half an hour or so writing it, but only managed 400 words and don’t think it’s going anywhere. I could try to expand and improve it, but it’s a news-related story (Jewish websites like to be topical for some reason) so it has a limited shelf-life and I’d need to finish it soon.

Admittedly it is very hot today and hard to work, and there was also a lot of noise from children playing outdoors and people playing music with the windows open. Still, I don’t feel confident in the idea any more. Possibly I am too much of a perfectionist to be able to write for websites, magazines and newspapers, which seem to need a lot of copy to be produced very quickly to generate enough income to live off. I was discussing monetising blogs, and writing in general, on Ashley’s blog today and I gloomily concluded that I’m not good enough at selling myself to make writing a really good career for me, but as I don’t seem to be good enough at anything else, I feel I have to try it anyway.

I feel I should be able to pitch articles to various Jewish sites, but somehow I don’t know how to generate ideas, and, as I said, Jewish kiruv (outreach) sites tend to like a ‘hook’ linking the topic to the news (which means writing very quickly) or to popular culture (which means writing quickly and also having more pop cultural awareness than I’ve ever had). They generally aren’t interested in a straightforward devar Torah or textual/philosophical insight, as they’re aiming at people who aren’t frum, trying to show the relevance of Judaism to their own world of politics and pop culture. Some people I knew from Hevria write for the Haredi press, but I don’t think I have the right understanding of frum culture for that, and I don’t want to work for papers that won’t print photos of women (which is all of the Haredi papers now, sadly — despite this, the people I know who write for them are women. I don’t think they like the situation, but they seem to have accepted it, on some level). I tried pitching to less religious Jewish newspapers in the UK a number of years ago, but didn’t get anywhere.

***

Other than that, I didn’t do a lot today. I Skyped E for a while and went for a walk at dusk, when it was cooler and did a tiny bit of Torah study, but I didn’t get to write more of my novel, which was a shame.

The fast is over now, and I should think about heading for bed, but it’s too hot to sleep and despite/because my disrupted sleep last night/this morning, I don’t feel at all tired.

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17 thoughts on “Pitch Imperfect

    1. Don’t get me started! This ends with burkas and the Taliban… I honestly don’t know how it started, as it has no basis in traditional Jewish law. But somehow someone thought it would be a good idea and then the ‘arms race’ in the Haredi world took over, where if someone adopts a stringency, everyone else has to adopt it or be thought insufficiently religious for not adopting it. Now there’s no way of getting rid of it.

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  1. I think that people who appear to “write quickly” have a bunch of articles semi-written and are waiting for a news event to shoehorn into their idea. Forex, you could have a topic about women’s clothing (as you discuss above with Ashley), have some paras of research done, some op-ed, and wait for some kerfuffle in the news to add to your piece.

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  2. Reminds me of my old Christian college in which you could go to the library, open a book or magazine, and the college had censored images with black Sharpies. That included old Greek and Roman statues as well as modern things they deemed immodest.

    Please don’t give up on a writing career. Though it’s a challenge to sell anything creative, it’s not impossible. You are a writer because you write regularly. But you may need to get help through a capable writing mentor or a writing class, someone to help you learn how to market yourself, and so on. It’s very easy to get discouraged as a Creative, particularly if given to depression and anxiety.

    Near my home are two different autism help centers. I wonder if you have anything like that near you or an autism foundation of some kind? If you could write for their own literature that might get your foot in the door as well as establish you as a credible voice in the field. I think any creative work requires a lot of self-promotion, which can be a challenge. I know you can do it, though. A good website, a public blog, those kinds of things linked to other articles online so you have a viewable portfolio would likely be good steps if you haven’t taken them already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for saying I’m a writer, sometimes I need to hear that! Yes, I probably need help with those practical things.

      There is a charity that deals with autism and learning disabilities near me. I did go to some of their things, but I found it hard to find things that were relevant. I don’t think they have much literature though. I probably should think about setting up a website (although not until after I’m married).

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  3. They won’t print pictures of women? I don’t know if I am more angered or saddened by that. So sorry about your hot weather. I dislike trying to sleep when it’s too hot. It’s miserable.

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  4. You might also want to consider branching out into technical writing. I think you’d be good at researching complicated topics and then expressing them in more widely understood ways. It’s not as “glamorous” as getting your own byline, and yes, you’ll need to get training in whatever technical subject you’re writing about, but I feel like getting an entry level technical writing job also doesn’t rely on self-promotion and marketing the way that pitching and query letters do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have thought about that. I think I may even have applied for a couple of jobs, but didn’t get anywhere. I’m open to it in the future, although I don’t think it’s the right time at the moment.

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