Writing, Etgar Keret, and where the &%*# is Peter Pan?

Every year or two I get an itch to complete something on my bucket list. Last year, it was performing in the Vagina Monologues. For the past six months, it’s been getting back into my writing habit.

I’ve been on a quest to discover the right outlet for skill-sharpening. It’s no shock that Israel would lack easily-accessible writing courses for English speakers. There are a few here and there, amateur and professional,  and I’ve been dipping my fingers into different pots trying to find the right one.

I recently completed a memoir-writing course with Madelyn Kent, a former NYU-Tisch writing instructor turned olah chadasha. She led me to Evan Fallenberg, a seasoned oleh (1985), who writes, translates and teaches, operating from The Studio, a workshop for writers in his home. On his website I found out he was bringing Etgar Keret to speak there the next week.

So last night I drove the hour and 45 minutes in evening traffic, up past Netanya, to hear Etgar Keret talk. His writing and his speaking go hand-in-hand, which was fun to discover.

It was also funny to hear him say that he can’t write from truth; he needs to make up his stories and keep the true experiences unwritten. He has trouble taking the experience and turning it into a written story. Opposite problem from me, you see.

The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God was the first present my then-boyfriend/now-husband ever gave me, and I became completely enamored and inspired with Keret, seeking more. But since then (2005) I have not been able to tap the inspiration the way I’ve wanted.

The last time I wrote something I was really, utterly, completely proud of was in 2003. It was a series of short-short stories about some of the very first ways I experienced Israel. The truth of it and passion behind it lent me a hand I never realized I had before.

And slowly I began to come to the conclusion: it’s much easier for adult-me to write based on experience than actual story-telling. Kid-me could tell you tales of worlds and planets and creatures; at sleepovers with my best friend, from my sleeping bag on the floor I would sprinkle her and her younger sister with colorful characters that just flowed from my mind to my mouth. I would dream of places I knew by heart, and before I went to bed, I’d think up new chapters for my reappearing players. I didn’t just have imaginary friends – I had fine-tuned characters.

But somewhere along the way, Peter Pan grew up and I can’t find that place anymore. And now that I have a kid, I really, really want to. Maybe it’s what will help me reunite with my story-telling. That, and working on this item from my bucket list.

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