Monday, 21 August 2017

Giving, Writing and Receiving

This is a guest post by Jenna Zark 

I was a newly single mother, recently separated from a husband of 13 plus years, with a three-year-old son. I was living in said husband’s home and working on moving, trying to stay sane and trying to sell a couch.

Moving was going OK, but the other two points in my three-point plan were less successful. I have found that the more I need money, the less it tends to come my way, and this instance was no exception.

All I knew was I didn’t want that couch to follow me to the new apartment I’d picked out for myself and my son. I wanted and needed to start fresh. So instead of selling, I decided to give the couch away.

I called up someone I know in the Russian community, and she put me in touch with a place that communicates with immigrant families. Within a day, a Russian man called and asked if he could come by.

We sat on the couch together while my son played with his toys on the floor. The sun poured into the room, and I couldn’t help but wish it was a happier occasion. Yet, the man told me stories that made me feel a lot better than if I had just sold the couch.

“In Russia, you live like wolf,” he said. “You get up and all day you are just trying to get something—food, clothing, shelter,” he continued. “In America, you have no idea.”

I knew where he was coming from, because being a suddenly-single mom when you were not expecting to be is certainly no picnic. Still, I had found an affordable apartment pretty easily and even had an appointment for a job interview that week.

Listening to the Russian man made me count my blessings. It also helped me realize that giving away your possessions can make you feel rich in a way that selling never can.

The man and I talked a bit more and he said he would stop by later with a van to take the couch away. We said our goodbyes and I took my son out to the playground. Some weeks later, the man called and invited me to dinner with him and his wife. It was another way to connect to the world at a time when I was feeling pretty lonely.

If you’ve had a chance to read my book The Beat on Ruby’s Street, you know that my main character Ruby is dealing with issues in her family, too. While nothing in the book is the exact same as my experience, there is a lot I went through that informs the story and how Ruby reacts to crises that befall her.

I bring this up because I think writing and giving things away really saved me. When I think about it, I see those two ideas as connected. Because writing is also giving up something of yourself to (hopefully) reach others who may be going through some of the same things you are.

And because giving can make us feel so rich, when the world and universe brings us empathy and friendship in the form of readers and friends.






This guest post comes from Jenna Zark a columnist, lyricist, playwright, and novelist. Her play A Body of Water was published by Dramatists Play Service and produced regionally after its debut at Circle Repertory Company in New York. Other plays were produced in the Twin Cities, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and St. Louis. As a former staff writer at Scholastic Choices magazine, Zark wrote extensively for middle school and junior high students. Columns, poetry, essays, and articles have been published in TC Jewfolk, Stoneboat literary magazine, Minnesota Bride and numerous other publications. Zark is also a member of a lyricist’s collective in the Twin Cities that performs at local cabarets. She’s still trying to figure out if it’s harder to write a play, a novel, or a song. To share your thoughts on that or to learn more, please visit jennazark.com.




Find Jenna at

Author Website: http://jennazark.com



The Beat On Ruby's Street;

It’s 1958 and Ruby is the opposite of a 1950s stereotype: fierce, funny and strong willed, she is only just starting to chart her course in a family of Beat Generation artists in Greenwich Village. Ruby dreams of meeting famous poets while becoming one herself; instead, she’s accused of trying to steal fruit from a local vendor and is forced to live in a children’s home. As Ruby struggles to return to family and friends, she learns her only choice is to follow her heart - Goodreads


If you wish to purchase a copy of The Beat on Ruby's Street or learn more, please visit;

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Goodreads:  

Dear Jenna, thanks for sharing your book and a little of your life with readers of my blog. I smiled when I read your comment about needing a little more money only to have far less come your way - I've been there and know exactly what you mean!  As regards giving to feel richer, you are absolutely right. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gift, a kindness or a smile is often enough. Thanks again, Barbara.  

 “Give others all that is alive in us—our interest, understanding, our knowledge, our humour, everything in us that’s good. In doing so, we enhance the sense of aliveness in others while enhancing our own. When we give, we get a “heightened vitality” of what it means to be human.”  Erich Fromm


54 comments:

  1. Thank you for a lovely post. It was very moving. Love your cover. Sounds like a great story:)

    Have a good one, Barbara:)

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    1. Thank you so much, Sandra! I'm glad you like the cover - Gwen Gades is a wonderful artist!

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    1. Thank you - and thanks for reading!

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  3. I really believe that in our darkest moments when we are the most vulnerable, we are actually open to miracles. And those miracles can be very small in the world scheme, like meeting the Russian man and hearing his story.

    I love the look of your cover. It's fresh and exciting and gives me a sense of expectation. TBR!

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    1. Thank you SO much - and I agree with you, sometimes we find - unexpectedly - what we most need to find!

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  4. Exactly this book I'll read for sure. After Living long years in Russia and Ukraine and now with my living place in Western Europe I also realized some differences in mentalities in Estern and Western cultures... I'm very curious of this book and a lot of thanks for your recommendation!

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    1. Thank you, Shon, I have always wanted to live in different countries because it gives you a new way of looking at the world and a completely different vantage point - which is a writer's dream, of course! Thank you for your curiosity.

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  5. Looks inspiring! Great interview.

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    1. Thank you - I truly appreciate you reading it!

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  6. Wonderful post, and I love the cover!

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    1. Thank you, Linda - I love the artist - Gwen Gades - she is also now my publisher at Dragon Moon Press. She is amazing.

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  7. What a truly lovely post. Giving is something I have definitely found provides benefits on both sides of the equation.
    The book sounds great too.

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    1. Thank you! I so agree with what you say about giving! And thanks for your kind words.

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  8. We all have a story to tell but not everyone is willing to tell it. WELL DONE!

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    1. Thank you for reading it, and writing to me. It means a lot to know others feel the same!

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  9. What a great post. I love that Jenna gave the couch away and made a friend too. I agree with her that when I need money the most it seems to be out of grasp.

    I recently saw her book somewhere and I am trying to remember where! Sounds like a great read. I wish Jenna the best of luck. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Stephanie. It's funny how money never seems to be there when you need it most. :) And thanks for reading my post!

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  10. Writing can save you from so much. Sounds like a great book Jenna. Best of luck!!

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  11. What a lovely interesting post
    Thank you

    Julie xxxxxx

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    1. Thank YOU, Julie, for reading it - and for sharing your thoughts here!

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  12. Congratulations, Jenna! 'The Beat on Ruby's Street' looks like a fun read and I enjoyed the book trailer. Best wishes for continued success!

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    1. Thank you, Marcia, we had a lot of fun making that trailer - finding music was the most challenging part. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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  13. Your story of giving will go on and on. The ripples go outward in ever widening circles and touch far distant shores you never dream of.

    Your book sounds like something I'd very much like to read.

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    1. Wow, thank you Bish, that's wonderful to hear! I too believe the ripples go out and it's amazing because I think the stories we all tell are so universal.

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  14. Great trailer! Lots of great tension.

    Waving to Barbara.

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    1. Thank you - and I'm waving to Barbara too! I am so glad you find the trailer interesting - it's always a challenge to figure out how to tell a story in just a minute or two!

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    2. THANK you, Barbara. Your blog is wonderful! I am so honored to be able to participate!

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    3. Thank you so much Jenna, I loved sharing your post. Thank you too for replying to all the comments, I really appreciate it. Barbara

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    4. It is so very much my pleasure, Barbara!

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  15. Dear Barbara - thanks so much for sharing Jenna's interview. Such a good thought about giving something away. I agree we can always give something to someone. Thanks you again. This sounds like a wonderful story. Hugs!

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    1. Thank you, Debbie - I agree and sometimes think it's the things we give away that we remember most.

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    2. Hi Debbie, I was delighted to share Jenna’s post, and I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. Hugs Barbara

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  16. What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your experience

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    1. Thank you, Shashi, for reading it and taking the time to share your thoughts!

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  17. Thanks for sharing Jenna's interview.
    It is so true giving, helping each other is and can be so rewarding.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hello Jan, I agree with you, giving really is its own reward, and it was a pleasure to share such a lovely post.
      I hope your week is going well, Barbara

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    2. Thank you, Jan, I think you are right and it certainly made me feel a lot richer than I would have otherwise!

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  18. Thank you, Barbara for introducing us to Jenna! YES! The more we "need" the less things (especially love and money) come to us. Love, money,etc. FLOW Get the flow started by giving away a bit and watch the "magic" happen. I learned this the hard way! Great story, Jenna! Your posts always make my day, Barbara!

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    1. And your comments always make my day dear Colleen. Thank you!

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    2. Wow, Colleen, I love what you are saying here. I take it to heart and have to say I really needed to hear this right now! Thank you.

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  19. Hi Barbara & Jenna!

    It was great reading about how and why you wrote this story, Jenna. I wish you mega sales because I like the idea of how this book came about. I've just one-clicked the Amazon.

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  20. Hello Nasreen, thank you for taking the time to call in and read Jenna's post, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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  21. Thank you, Nasreen, I am really honored you want to read the book and hope the story speaks to you. Thank you, too, for your kind and supportive words! You have a beautiful name, by the way!

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  22. A wonderful post! Very moving!!! I love the trailer and the book sounds great!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading it! I truly love hearing from you!

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  23. I think most of us can empathize with the less money when we need more situation. And what a way to turn a negative into a positive.

    Wishing all a great day.

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    1. Thank you Sandra, I think that was my only alternative - and want to thank you for your kind words.

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  24. It can be better to give away than sell. I've been tempted to do a garage giveaway to get rid of all the things we don't use.

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    1. YES and what a great idea, Tamara! I am giving away as much as I can right now to get more space in our house! :)

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  25. Such a beautiful post. Giving often does make a huge difference, even in the worst of circumstances.

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  26. Thank you, Misha - you are so right, and it certainly did for me!

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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