What I’m Writing
I’m up to 502,000 words in my current WIP, Chapter 63, with the working title “War Comes to America.” This is probably a good time for a little break to focus more on research than writing. It’s going to be super-important to have everything right in the remaining Part III material. I’ve already started listening to radio broadcasts about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and I’ll also need to research details of homefront rationing, victory gardens, the enlistment and training procedures, key battles, the French Concession of Shanghai in 1942 (the only foreign concession still allowed to function by that date), and the 18th Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division.
My Army characters’ division will be unnamed, so there’s full leeway to write the bittersweet, emotional final chapter of Part III the way the story dictates. If it were dependent on Fedya, Vasya, and Osyenka being in a set division, I’d have a lot more constraints on the contents of that chapter, “Bittersweet Reunion.” I’m also leaning towards making Canadian Army medic Yuriy’s division fictionalised. Yuriy is actually pursuing a veterinary degree, not a degree in people medicine, but when you need a medic, who’s going to complain about being helped by an animal doctor in training?
What I’m Reading
I need to catch up on the reading for my most boring class, IIST 602, Organization of Information. The professor is very nice, but the subject matter can be pretty damn dull and overly technical. But for my favourite class, 617, Academic Libraries, I’ve really enjoyed the articles I’ve found for the weekly citations and my papers. This past week, I read a bunch of articles in old issues of The ALA Bulletin and College & Research Libraries from the 1950s.
What Inspires Me
I had a dream about visiting Iran, and it left me even more convinced that this is a sound travel plan. I really, really want to go there for some firsthand research for my eventual second draft. It’s odd, but I’ve never felt so sure and passionate about visiting any other place for research. I love travelling and would love to visit quite a few countries, but I just feel a pull to go there as soon as I can.
You have to apply for a visa through a special division of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, D.C., and you have to go through a tour, not make your own trip. And since I’m planning to go back to Israel at least once within the next decade, I’ll need to have a second passport when it’s time to renew next June. Americans also aren’t allowed to bring back more than $100 in Iranian goods. (Not that I recommend lying to customs, but I have smuggled in certain types of food I bought in Israel, like honey and seeds, rather than declare it and have it thrown away as some kind of biohazard.)
My parents and some friends have thought it’s a really bad idea when I’ve brought it up in the past, but I’m totally unafraid and really excited to schedule and plan this trip. Obviously there are places I wouldn’t want to tour anytime soon, like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea, but there are so many people who’ve ignored the propaganda and had a great time in Iran. I even think it’ll be fun to wear a hijab, jilbab, and abaya. It’s like taking on a temporary new identity and trying on a uniform I otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to experience.
This really has to be beshert (destiny), since my original outline/notes for this book back in 2001 had Inna, Mrs. Brezhneva, and the new orphanage children fleeing to Austria, and didn’t even include Alina, Ohanna, or Izabella and her mother. What a difference a geographical change and attachment to secondary characters make!
What Else I’ve Been Up To
Hopefully, the whole roommate situation will be ironed out soon and my new roommate who’s waiting in the wings will be able to be approved by the landlady and moved in by Halloween. The only other living beings who’ve been here for the past few weeks are my 13-year-old spider plant Kalanit and a new sansevieria plant my oldest friend gave me when she came to visit.
My ex-roommate really isn’t a bad person; she’s just not in an emotionally or psychologically stable place at this point in her life, and our personalities aren’t a good match to live together. She deserves someone who shares her overly crunchy views (like not wanting to buy anything with plastic, aluminium, or non-stick), very Orthodox views on kashrut, and extreme attention to avoiding any contact with ticks. I deserve a roommate who’s more low-key, laid-back, and relaxed about certain aspects of Judaism. I’m used to living and eating in homes that don’t have kosher kitchens, not starving myself and forcing other people to work around my restrictions.