We are all too familiar with those instances when we are told about the latest start-up success and immediately think to ourselves how incredibly obvious the new concept is. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before? Why didn’t I think of that?

Hearing about the idea of JWOW was one such ‘start up’ moment for me. The need to establish a writing platform for Jewish women in Melbourne seemed perfectly obvious. Jewish women are naturally women of words – we are smart, we have ideas, opinions and infinite wisdom. We love to share and learn from each other, we love to empathise and to advise. We need a home for our diverse collective voices.

I felt compelled to join the team converting the inspired and obvious vision of JWOW into a wonderful reality. In doing so, I have been afforded the exciting opportunity to fulfil my longstanding dream of writing and being published.

Throughout the planning phase of the past six months, I was extremely motivated and excited by our mission. However, my enthusiasm dissipated as soon as I was required to start working on a piece to submit for publication. Suddenly, I seemed to have completely lost my written voice.

The desire to write, to be published and to be read by others is a dream many of us hold secret. The true depth of our ambition tends never to be fully revealed or explored.

For many years I suppressed and buried my writing ambition deep within my love of books, bookshops, libraries and successive models of kindles. I attended numerous writers’ festivals and enthusiastically sat in the audience admiring all of my favourite authors. I listened intensely to their answers about how they write, where their ideas came from and the challenges they faced. I yearned to do what they do.

I read the work of friends who are established authors and journalists. I enjoyed recognising their conversational voice in their books and articles; they appeared to write so effortlessly and yet so eloquently.

Through the recent proliferation of professional blogs, I have admired the courage of my ‘non-writer’ friends who submitted their writing to well known blogs such as Mamamia and Women’s Agenda. As each successive article was published, these friends graduated from ‘non-writer’ friends to ‘writer’ friends. I diligently read each of their articles on a variety of topics spanning from the very personal through to controversial political commentary. I often inwardly contemplated that I too could write about these issues and questioned why I never had the courage to do so.

Upon honest reflection, the fear of not being accepted for publication was most likely to blame. And yet now, when my work is being actively solicited, writing has become incredibly challenging. Curiously, my persistent procrastination makes no sense particularly as throughout my career and communal role, I have written professional articles, newsletters, media releases and speeches. When given a specific task or topic to write about, I am able to quickly identify my audience and tailor the writing style appropriately. I have worked within pre-determined frameworks with ease. JWOW provides the forum to write about virtually any subject and provides the liberty to design one’s own framework. It can be fiction or non-fiction, personal or communal. Surely it can’t be that hard?

As progress to launch the new JWOW platform gathered momentum over the summer, the opportunity to write morphed into an intimidating responsibility. Despite having a plethora of ideas I wanted to canvass in writing, I spent the summer unable to decide what I was going to write about. Figuring out how on earth I was going to do it without the security and comfort of a familiar framework was a mighty challenge. My colleagues counselled me with the somewhat cliché advice: “the first article is always the hardest”.

I have found the experience of sharing my vulnerability profoundly frightening and confronting. However, I suspect that I am not the only Jewish woman who wants to write and yet feels threatened by the opportunity to step out of one’s comfort zone to crystallise a dream. I am writing ‘freely’ for the first time on the JWOW platform because providing Jewish women with a voice, both established and emerging, is central to the rationale for which the platform exists.

How did I overcome my fear? Here is my very cliché response: one word at a time.

To all aspiring women writers in our community, allow JWOW to be your forum to take the first step and the many more that will surely follow.

Let this be the place where confidence to write is attained, strengthened and nourished.

Let the many conversations we want to have in our community begin.

To all those more established writers out there, please share with us your talent and thoughts. In doing so, you will surely help inspire and empower us all to be proud Jewish Women of Words.

Article by Author/s
Simone Szalmuk-Singer
Simone is passionate about developing strong Jewish communal leadership for the future and is involved in many initiatives to build and develop leadership capacity.

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