Interview with memoirist Dorit Sasson

My special interview guest today is Dorit Sasson. She’s chatting with me about her memoir Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel
Defense Forces
.
Bio: 
Dorit Sasson is the founder of the
Giving Voice to Your Story website and 
Giving Voice to Your Courage weekly podcast. Her mission is to support
heart-centered business owners and heart-centered authors as they find their
brand voices, share their unique stories, gain more visibility, establish
themselves as experts, and create authentic marketing messages, all through the
use of smart content strategy and engaging copywriting. Giving Voice to Your
Story was named one of Top 100 Websites for Writers by The Write Life in 2016.
Dorit inspires others to take risks and
work from a courageous heart at various speaking events across the country.
Dorit continues to inspire others as a content strategist and copywriter
through her blog, guest blogs, and podcast appearances. In addition to business
writing,Dorit writes passionately about courage to reinvent herself as a
soldier in the Israel Defense Forces and the courage to find passion and
meaning from everyday living even if that means leaving your comfort zone. She
is a regular contributor to 
The Huffington Post.
Sasson’s memoir, Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of
Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces
 (She Writes Press, 2016), is the story of how she dropped
out of college and volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces in an effort to
change her life — and how, in stepping out of her comfort zone and into a war
zone, she discovered courage and faith she didn’t know she was capable of.
Sasson is transparent about sharing her vulnerable journey of combining
motherhood, writing, and blogging and promotion over at her website, “
Giving Voice to Your Story.”
Welcome,
Dori. Please tell us about your current release.
At age nineteen, I was a dual American-Israeli
citizen trying to make the status quo work as a college student―until I
realized that if I didn’t distance myself from my neurotic, worrywart of a
mother, I would become just like her.




Accidental Soldier: A Memoir
of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces
is
my story of how I dropped out of college and volunteered for the Israel Defense
Forces in an effort to change my life―and how, in stepping out of my comfort
zone and into a war zone, I discovered courage and faith I didn’t know I was
capable of.

What
inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always wanted to try my hand on
writing a different genre having written academic articles and books for
teachers. I wanted to challenge myself to write a memoir having also written
creative type stuff.
Having lived in Israel for eighteen
years, I wanted to write about an experience that would connect me to the
country I felt strongly connected to – Israel. 
Although my service happened so many years ago, I was still struggling
to find a sense of home in what felt like a new Pittsburgh community. In fact,
the opening chapters start in New York City so I was now able to understand why
it was important for me to leave my Mom and New York City.
I was inspired by this intertwining of
past and present, and wanted to give voice to an experience I took for granted.
There are many
sections where I’m trying to navigate both the militaristic and cultural worlds
as an American-Israeli trying to fit in.  
Singing Ella
Fitzgerald’s version of “Summertime” on a dusty base in the middle of
the Arava desert in the chapter “Giving Voice” would have to be one
of my favorite scenes. As a graduate of vocal music of the FAME school in New
York City,  I’m finally able to give a voice to the experience of serving
in uniform on a settlement where the “distance” between myself and
our commanding officers is rather friendly. All throughout high school, I felt
“voiceless” and unworthy. Ironically, as an IDF soldier, I learn to
trust the process of finding my voice on an unknown dirty and tiny base in the
middle of nowhere.
Excerpt from Accidental
Soldier:
 
At
seven o’clock in the evening two days later, I appear on a bungalow stoop
facing an empty desert, wearing a dusty civilian shirt, my hands tucked into
the pockets of my army work pants. The sun’s still high above me, and my
“audience”—members of my garin and the Israeli-born garin—sit on the grass. Our
commanding officers stand behind them.
Silence.
I
take a deep breath and introduce each song in Hebrew briefly.
Some
of the commanding officers’ hats are pulled down to block out the glare of the
sun, so there’s no way of seeing their expressions. Will there be a cringing
face, or whispers of disapproval?
I
decide to go with the flow: I lift my chest and open my mouth.
I
have the entire “stage” to myself. I trill on the high notes without belting.
My voice travels. With each note, I feel the distance between my high school
self and who I am today becoming smaller. My entire body shakes with nervous
excitement and anticipatory anxiety.
As
I get deeper into “Summertime,” I try to avoid focusing on the garin and their
expressions. This hot desert is the perfect setting for the song. I try my best
to execute Ella’s flawless, melismatic style, letting thoughts of her rich
voice carry me like warm honey. Each time I end a cadence, I control and deepen
my voice just like she does in the recording I know so well.
As
I near the end of the song, my heart beats fast.
What’s
this? There’s clapping. They liked it! Even as I run to sit on
the grass, avoiding people’s eyes, the clapping is still going. I squeeze in between
two of the Israeli garin members on the ground. Someone reaches from behind and
squeezes my hand.
The
next day, Michal, Hiyah, and Miki from the Israeli garin, and even a second
officer named Debbie, approach me at breakfast.
“Wow,
Dorit, you sang great. We didn’t know you could sing like that.”
I
smile widely. I didn’t know I could sing like that, either.
It
occurs to me: I’m not just a soldier anymore. I’m someone with a voice.
What
exciting story are you working on next?
My plan is to work on the next memoir
of the series. I don’t want to reveal too many details, but it’s about leaving
Israel as a returning American and readjusting to the American lifestyle having
been gone so many years.
When
did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t start writing professionally
until I came back to the States. It took many years to get to this point having
endured lots of rejections, doubts and fears, and yes, plenty of red marks on
my papers in college suggesting that perhaps, I wasn’t a good enough writer.
Do
you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you
do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I teach part time. I try to spend about
an hour each day for book marketing and promotion. I also have writing and
coaching clients. The challenge is to also find time to write! So far, what
works for me is waking up early before everyone else to write – otherwise I
don’t get it done.
What
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Writing quirk? Hmm…I don’t know if this
qualifies as a quirk, but I need to have affirmations and candles around me to
empower me. I also tend to write longhand before transferring the words to the
computer.
As
a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My mother was a classical pianist of
note, so I always thought I’d be a classical singer having studied at the
famous Fame school, which is now LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts in
New York City.
Anything
additional you want to share with the readers?
I am a Shark Tank junkie. I read and
devour anything written by Jhumpa Lahiri or Elizabeth Gilbert. I am desperately
trying to limit the time I spend on Facebook and Twitter. Unless you have a
strong strategy, they are complete time suckers, but …

Links:

Thank you, Dorit!

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