Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Insights from Author Uvi Poznansky - The Writing Process

Hello, MB4 friends and fans,

Today we welcome a wonderful writer, Uvi Poznansky. I read and loved APART FROM LOVE and would recommend it and especially the beautifully produced audio book, to anyone who loves to read about family and the complicated relationships that result. 

Uvi will share some of her writing insights with us today, as well as a few choice samples. 

Welcome, Uvi, and thanks for being here on Murderby4 today.

Aaron Lazar

copyright 2014, Uvi Poznansky

How does my writing process work? 

In any task you undertake, you often hear the advice: start at the beginning, continue down the middle, and finish at the end. Writing is no different. Problem is, as you advance diligently down that path, you may find–to your surprise–that you are getting better, more proficient at your craft. Suddenly the opening of this chapter sounds so much catchier than the previous one; and the ending more powerful. You must constantly re-evaluate and rework previous chapters. So in my opinion, the process of writing is cyclical. By the time I completed the last chapter of my novel, APART FROM LOVE, I knew I had to discard–or at least, rewrite and restructure–the first chapter.

This, then, is the first page of the first chapter, in which Ben is about to return–reluctantly–to his childhood home, and to a contentious relationship with his father: 

“About a year ago I sifted through the contents of my suitcase, and was just about to discard a letter, which my father had written to me some time ago. Almost by accident my eye caught the line, I have no one to blame for all this but myself, which I had never noticed before, because it was written in an odd way, as if it were a secret code, almost: upside down, in the bottom margin of the page, with barely a space to allow any breathing.

The words left some impression in my memory. I almost wished he were next to me, so I could not only listen to him, but also record his voice saying that.

I imagined him back home, leaning over his desk, scrawling each letter with the finest of his pens with great care, as if focusing through a thick magnifying glass. The writing was truly minute, as if he had hated giving away even the slightest hint to a riddle I should have been able to solve on my own. I detested him for that. And so, thinking him unable to open his heart to me, I could never bring myself to write back. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake.

Even so, I am only too happy to agree with him: the blame for what happened in our family is his. Entirely his. If not for his actions ten years ago, I would never have run away to Firenze, to Rome, to Tel Aviv. And if not for his actions a couple of weeks ago, this frantic call for me to come back and see him would never have been made.

And so I find myself standing here, on the threshold of where I grew up, feeling utterly awkward. I knock, and a stranger opens the door. The first thing that comes to mind: what is she doing here? The second thing: she is young, much too young for him. The third: her hair. Red.”

How did I embark on writing this story? 

Over a year ago I wrote a short story about a twelve-year-old boy coming face to face, for the first time in his life, with the sad spectacle of death in the family. In the story, Ben watches his father trying to revive his frail grandma, and later he attempts the same technique on the fish tilting upside down in his new aquarium.

“I cannot allow myself to weep. No, not now. So I wipe the corner of my eye. Now if you watch closely, right here, you can see that the tail is still crinkling. I gasp, and blow again. I blow and blow, and with a last-gasp effort I go on blowing until all is lost, until I don’t care anymore, I mean it, I don’t care but the tears, the tears come, they are starting to flow, and there is nothing, nothing more I can do—” 

I set the story aside, thinking I was done with it. But the character of the boy, Ben, came back to me and started chatting, chatting, chatting in my head. It became the seed of my novel, APART FROM LOVE.

In writing it I asked myself, what if I ‘aged’ him by fifteen years? Where would he be then? Would he still admire his father as a hero, or will he be disillusioned at that point? What secrets would come to light in the life of this family? How would it feel for Ben to come back to his childhood home, and have his memories play tricks on him? What if I introduce a girl, Anita, a redhead who looks as beautiful as his mother used to be, but is extremely different from her in all other respects? And what if this girl were married to his father? What if the father were an author, attempting to capture the thoughts, the voices of Ben and Anita, in order to write his book? 

So the process of writing became, for me, simply listening to the characters and trying, as fast as I could, to capture their thoughts. My role as an author became simply suggesting a place, coming up with the stage set and illuminating it as appropriate for the mood and the time of day, and allowing the characters to describe what they see and to act out their passions, fears, and hopes. 

The truly magical part happens once the ink dries. It is then that you, the reader, come in, to open the cover and let the characters spring to life in your own mind, which connects it to mine.

About the Author:

Uvi Poznansky is a California-based author, poet and artist. Her writing and her art are tightly coupled. “I paint with my pen,” she says, “and write with my paintbrush.” 

She earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. During her studies and in the years immediately following her graduation, she practiced with an innovative Architectural firm, taking part in the design of a large-scale project, Home for the Soldier.  

At the age of 25 Uvi moved to Troy, N.Y. with her husband and two children. Before long, she received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she guided teams in a variety of design projects; and where she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. 

During the years she spent in advancing her career—first as an architect, and later as a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant (with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices)—she wrote and painted constantly. In addition, she taught art appreciation classes.  

Her versatile body of work can be seen on her website, which includes poem, short stories, bronze and ceramic sculptures, paper engineering projects, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media. In addition, she posts her thoughts about the creative process on her blog, and engages readers and writers in conversation on her Goodreads Q&A group. 

Uvi writes across a variety of genres: Apart From Love (literary fiction), Rise to Power (historical fiction), A Favorite Son (biblical fiction), Home (poetry), Twisted (fantasy), and two childrens book: Now I Am Paper and Jess and Wiggle.

Author Links:

Books (available in print, kindle, and audio editions):


Uvi Poznansky said...

Thank you so much Aaron for inviting me here, and for the warm introduction!

love this blog!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your insights with us at MB4, Uvi. Off I go, to pick up my paintbrush. :)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Uvi, it's our pleasure to feature you here on MB4. Come back soon!