Writer’s Dilemma

There’s this thing called NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and it happens in November. The basic premise is that it encourages writers to complete a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30, writing approximately 2,000 words a day. There are kickoff events today and lots of cute reminders about it online, and while I might actually attend a NaNoWriMo event near me for fun, I’m not going to be writing a novel. At least, not a new novel.

I’ve written four novels in my life. You probably know about the first two, which were written for the Orthodox, Jewish community, and were sold in your local Judaica store. It took me one to two months to write each of those novels although the editing and publication process took longer.

My third novel is a bit more complicated. I wrote it over the course of several years. I edited and re-edited as my personal views and beliefs evolved. You will never see it in your Judaica store although the main character is an Orthodox Jew — or at least she starts out as one. It took me a long time to decide that I would try to get this book published. About six months ago, I started trying to find an agent. I know nothing about this process and there’s been a lot of trial and error, but I’m still working at it.

I just finished my fourth novel. I think it took about three months to write, but I’m not good with timelines, so it could have been less, could have been more. It’s based on a true story and was my first time writing an adult novel, as opposed to my first three, which have a teenage protagonist. This manuscript is in the early editing stages. I currently have a group of trusty Beta readers looking it over, but I asked them to give me a few weeks before responding with feedback because I needed an emotional break from the material.

So what will I be working on at the NaNoWriMo kickoff event that I plan to attend later today? I’m revisiting my second novel. Due to contract violations, my publisher no longer owns any rights to my first two novels and I’m free to do with them as I please. My first novel, Dancing in the Dark, is already available as an e-book and paperback on Amazon. During this month, I’ll be readying my second book, Stand Your Ground, to be sold on Amazon as well.

Stand Your Ground underwent heavier editing than Dancing in the Dark. I’m not sure why the publishing company felt pressure to do this, but I was asked to take out many “questionable” things… and by questionable, I mean references to cell phones and email. I complied, because I didn’t want to limit the sales of my book, but it didn’t sit right with me. In addition, the ending of my book was drastically altered. Some people have commented that Stand Your Ground is relatively short for a novel, and that’s because is it. It started out at a decent length, but I had to chop so many chapters that it ended up noticeably shorter than a standard novel.

This month, I’ll be reversing many of the unnecessary changes to Stand Your Ground. When I’m done, it will still be a kosher novel. It will contain nothing scandalous or salacious, nothing to offend the senses of the average person. And that may be the biggest indication that this censorship by the Orthodox publishers has gone too far.

Although my fourth novel is at the earliest stages of creation, I haven’t decided what route I will go with regard to publishing. I would love for it to be sold in Judaica stores. It will have the biggest impact if it can be marketed as an average “frum” novel. However, I’m not willing to edit out the very things that make this book an important read. I will not water down the realities of this painful, true situation. I cannot allow this particular story to be censored.

I’ll keep you posted.

About the Author
Shoshana is an author and social worker living in South Jersey. She works primarily with teenagers and has mostly worked in urban environments. In her spare time, she can be found rock climbing and drinking iced coffee, occasionally at the same time.
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