Tel Aviv is a haven for Israeli artists whether they are bards, thespians, sculptors or wordsmiths. Yet many artists never get their work noticed by anyone other than friends or neighbors. That’s alright if their ambition isn’t to share their work with a larger audience or to make a living off their craft but what if they do? Julie Gray, an immigrant from California, is guiding English language writers towards getting their written words noticed in whatever format they choose.
As someone who worked as a screenplay reader in Hollywood, Julie has years of experience vetting manuscripts as to how marketable they are for a wide audience. Through her Tel Aviv Writers’ Salon which meets weekly, Julie hosts formatted evening workshops each with a theme for the evening of a dozen or more writers
I recently attended a workshop on Ways to Approach Writing a Novel. As someone who’s focused on non-fiction articles and poetry for decades, I’ve wondered from time to time about dabbling or diving into the freer field of fiction (though what some people try to pass off as non-fiction is questionable to its accuracy and authenticity).
It was a casual yet informative gathering with a bit of guidance on how to structure an outline in starting a novel or a screenplay which included notes on essential elements. A 45 minute flash fiction exercise challenged those who attended to choose from a few opening lines and write a 1,000 word short story. Switching recently from a Mac to Windows used up a precious ten minutes for me yet I scrambled together a story I thought was a fair first effort and it did leave me wanting to write more of the same. It was fun to hear what other writers came up with using same the same opening line and no two stories were even remotely similar in style or tone. Not only did Julie give good notes to each writer but the other scribes gave good feedback as well and it was a friendly forum where no one was taking cheap shots. Any criticisms were constructive and even those were few and far between with words of encouragement more forthcoming.
With 300 plus members who come and go to workshops that fit their schedule and areas of interest, each workshop averages a dozen to a score of writers from various backgrounds and experience with different aspirations of what genre they want to write and where they want their work to appear. On this particular evening, the mix of women to men was about 2 to 1 though ages varied from beginning writers in their 20’s to more experienced writers in their 70’s and geographically from the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and Eastern Europe. Julie asks writers to reserve a spot so she can promise them a seat and charges 80 NIS for an evening’s tutelage. Classes tend to start at 645PM and can change nights from week to week depending on Julie’s schedule and are often held in a central Tel Aviv café.
Julie acts as more of a writing coach than a teacher and offers encouragement and tips on how to take your writing to the next level no matter what level you’re at. Although I don’t imagine someone without a clue of structuring a paragraph would get much out of a class, anyone who’s submitted a story or an article and been rejected and would like to get accepted more often or yearns to write a memoir, novel, screenplay or short story will find kindred spirits to swap stories with and Julie is a learned and supportive mentor who seems eager and able to help an aspiring writer find their inner voice, put a story down on a page and get it out there in front of a wider audience to experience.
Julie Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org