One year ago, the Jewish Book Council launched the 8 Nights of Stories series on The ProsenPeople. For each of the eight nights of Chanukah, the Jewish Book Council set out to help our readers find more stories — to read to children, to share with young adults, and to read on your own after the kids are in bed. For Chanukah 5775, we’re delighted to partner with the writers of Hevria, a new collaborative of Jewish self-identified creators, as guest contributors over the next eight nights.
When I was a kid, I had an old, heavy hardcover edition of the book Stories of King Solomon by Lillian S. Freehof. The illustrations were vintage ’70s papercuts in psychedelic colors. Each story wasn’t more than 2 or 3 pages, and I hadn’t yet learned to call them midrashim. But the stories it was filled with were magical and miraculous: his magic carpet, the quest for the worm that could cut through mountains, the demon Asmodeus who was as clever as Solomon, but was evil, and once altered his image and replaced him. Disney princesses serve their own purpose, but I want my kids to grow up to think that THIS is royalty.
If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland changed my life. I walked into Barnes and Noble, a young college kid who just realized he wanted to take up writing. Then I saw this book that seemed about right called, If You Want to Write. I wanted to write! So I picked it up, having no idea what was inside.
It turns out that it was written by a cool beatnik lady in 1938 named Brenda Ueland. Ueland opened my eyes for the first time into what writing, and all art, was at its core: an expression of our soul.
From the very beginning, she writes with enthusiasm and a clear love for her reader, showing that heart is so much more powerful than “mere memory” and that a writer must learn to rise over the traumatic rejection they’ve often had to face as sensitive people in a world that is often cynical and negative, crushing the potentially positive, alive people of the world.
Ueland guides her readers as only she can into an exploration of the artist’s essence and potential, showing them what they really can become when they stop listening to the people stuck in their minds and start embracing the part of themselves that just wants to cry when it sees a sunset.
An absolute necessity for anyone who “wants to write”.
Check back tomorrow for the next installment of Eight Nights of Stories, in partnership this year with Hevria!