Usually someone writes a book and then it becomes a play or movie. But I did it backwards.
I never planned or dreamed of writing a book, I never imagined it was anything I was capable of doing.
But in the winter of 2014 I gave a key note presentation, Connecting Across Conflict – Storytelling & Peace Building at the Timpanogos Storytelling Conference in Utah, and a man who introduced himself as a publisher came up to talk with me. He said his publishing house, Familius, had just published the works of two other storytellers, and that he had heard lots of good things about my work and – would I be interested in writing a book?
This was most flattering and I said, “Thank you, this is most flattering!”
And then I said, “To be honest, I’m not really a writer and English is my second language…
and I never really….” but as I heard these words come out of my mouth I said to myself,
self stop apologizing so much! so I stopped apologizing and said:
“But I’ve been traveling with this one woman show, A Land Twice Promised, that I’ve created based on my friendship with a Palestinian woman, and I do have a lot of stories around this relationship and the show and… YES, I’m interested!”
“Great” he said, “send me a proposal.”
And so I wrote what became a memoir… A Land Twice Promised – An Israeli Woman’s Quest for Peace.
Between December of 2014 and December of 2015 I dived into a whole new world. I always knew that writing was different from storytelling but I never imagined it would be SO different. I’m a speaker, when I write it’s for speaking – the written words are just the sketch, a scaffold upon which the story is created as I tell it.
When I tell about my mother, I don’t need many words to describe her. I use my voice infused with her intonation, pitch and volume, my facial expressions, gestures and body language – and then the words she says and her entire personality come alive. But when I wrote about my mother I suddenly had to find words for everything – how does one even begin to describe her voice so central to her entire personality!?
This was just one of the challenges on this most fascinating journey of writing. It also included delving into old journals I haven’t opened since high-school; resurrecting old conversation transcripts with my Palestinian friend; and daring to have a conversation with my brother I dared not have before.
I’m eager to share the fruits of this journey with you all – whether you’ve seen the performance of A Land Twice Promised or not – this book will enrich your experience. It will add more background and details about the lives of Israelis and Palestinians in this entrenched conflict, as well as invite you behind the scenes into the creative process of a storyteller. And of course as any memoir would, it will tell you (almost) everything you never knew you wanted to know about my life…
Here is part of the Author’s Note that opens the book:
This book is my attempt to shed light on how people experience and remember history. Not all people – just me and one Palestinian woman I met in America and our families. It is the story of our friendship and of my becoming a storyteller and using the art of storytelling as a peace-building tool.
In an attempt to explore the elusiveness of peace, I have gathered clues from memory’s secret hideouts to create stories. I try to give shape to the subtle and mysterious shifts in perception on my journey, from the secure black-and-white narratives of my childhood to the uneasy place of complexity, where multiple narratives, ambiguity, and contradictions reside.
I also try to reconstruct my creative process as a storytelling artist to reveal the transformative power of my art form. The art of storytelling is an ancient and re-emerging performance art form that is not just for children. It borrows from principles of traditional storytelling as well as uses tools from theater to evoke a story in the audience’s imagination.
My hope is that this exploration will encourage you to deepen and expand your listening to “the other”, I hope it will inspire you to look at your own quest for peace and seek out more stories and encounters with those you see as most different from you or even as enemies.
A Land Twice Promised – An Israeli Woman’s Quest for Peace is available for pre order on AMAZON