The transition to the new year brought good news for my book project in the form of a grant from the Stiftung Zurückgeben, a foundation that supports the creative work of Jewish women living in Germany. It helps to have support beyond my inner circle of family and friends, the cheerleaders who are a part of my book journey. Institutional support will boost my research and outreach efforts and help bring this multi-pronged, organically evolving arrangement of prose to publication.
Getting to know some of the people who are contributing their stories for the book has been a highlight of the past year. Low points have come when getting tongue-tied trying to explain the book to people in German, being unsure of next steps to take, and receiving comments like the following from a reviewer of an early draft of my memoir chapter: “This draft feels very much like the outer layer of an enormous onion that you’ve only started to peel.”
The journey to my inner voice has been slow and bumpy, with lots of sweating and squirming in my seat for hours on end. But sometimes I look up from my keyboard and find my daughter Olivia, sitting across from me at the table where we often work together and deeply immersed in a drawing project. She shows extraordinary discipline in her own artistic endeavors, a young role model who is also my most constructive and dedicated editor.
I’ve started the year with a good dose of inspiration, support, and determination, ready for the next steps in my effort to make meaning out of the thousands who have reclaimed their German citizenship in the post-Holocaust era.
Drawing by Olivia Swarthout