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  • kchanaharris

I'm a Writer

Every week I pile all the magazines I can into my shopping cart at the grocery store.

No, not gossip mags, or Town and Country. I only read Jewish magazines.

As someone who grew up in a non-religious environment, I can see why this would seem weird, and maybe even a little elitist. However in my current culture, its the social norm to (generally) stick to our own genre of reading.

I still read secular novels sometimes, although I vet them first. Nonfiction is a favorite of mine, especially memoirs. But as an Orthodox Jew I have a responsibility to keep my mind clear. That doesn't mean religious Jews aren't well read or educated. I'm just careful about what I let into my house, my mind and my heart. No sexy stuff and limited violence.

Which is why the magazines I choose every week are Jewish. Mispacha, Ami, Binah, sometimes others. Our small subculture has managed to create several high caliber weekly magazines that are read by a significant amount of Orthodox Jews from all over the world. Some people have complaints against them, which is reasonable seeing that anything worth doing sees resistance. I'm sure they can improve in several areas. But overall, I enjoy them and so do my kids.

My dream is to one day be a columnist for a Jewish magazine.

The thing I love the most is when I read a well written article that speaks to me. I feel like the person just "got" me. Throughout my life I've been blessed to read many amazing pieces of literature that stayed with me because I could relate to them, or better yet, they changed who I am as a person. As an English major in college, I was known for my pickiness in what I read. It had to read like how people talk. Real people. I guess it's my authentic streak.

More than anything, I want to write for the Jewish people. I want to write something that resonates with them, stays with them, and keeps them thinking after they've put it down and gone about their business.

I want to say what's on my mind, what bothers me, excites me, and worries me about our community.

I want to open up that glossy magazine, turn the pages, and see my name printed in ink. Not because of pride, but simply because it means my dream came true.

I've always known I was a writer.

So why did I stop writing for so long? (Stephen Pressfield would call me an amateur) Why did I do so many jobs that didn't involve writing at all?

When people ask me about my degree I tell them, "Oh yeah, that. It's in English. It was the easiest way to graduate, doing what comes naturally." (As if that were a CRIME.)

And trust me when I tell you I tried different avenues. I couldn't get Calculus.

Shouldn't we all do what comes naturally to us?

In the classic Jewish work Duties of the Heart, Gates of Trust, Ch. 3 we find this exact advice:

Every man has a preference for a particular work or business over others. G-d has already implanted in his nature a love and fondness for it, as He implanted in a cat's nature the hunting of mice.

Writing is the one thing that has never left me bored, and it's helped me process countless situations that would have otherwise swallowed me whole. As long as there is a pencil, pen, computer or a phone, I know I can make it through anything. I just have to write it out and slowly I make sense of it.

One day I will grace the pages of my favorite magazines. Until then I'll write everywhere and anywhere because that's who I am. I'm a writer.

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