THE PRACTICING WRITER
Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 10, Number 4: May 2013
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2013 Erika Dreifus
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IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Editor’s Note: What’s New
2. Article/Lessons Learned
3. Featured Resource
4. Upcoming/Ongoing Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities
5. Submission Alerts!!!
6. Blog Notes
7. Newsletter Matters
1. EDITOR’S NOTE: WHAT’S NEW
Greetings, practicing writers:
As some of you know, I spent many years living in the Boston area. So as you can imagine, that’s where my heart has been since April 15. I’m especially grateful for the opportunity that I’ll have soon to travel there for Grub Street’s amazing annual conference, “The Muse and the Marketplace.” (I hope that I will see some of you there.)
Bearing in mind this background, I’d like to share with you this month a “Lessons Learned” essay that I’ve been working on for some time. I’ve sent it to half a dozen potential homes – all of which have declined. Ironically, the essay is about failure and rejection, so, as I’ve confided to a few friends, no one can claim that I know not whereof I write! Thank you for indulging me.
Wishing you all a magnificent May,
P.S. Rejections for this essay (and other work) notwithstanding, I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing a number of new pieces published since the last newsletter went out. In reverse chronological order, you’ll find them here:
–”Aciman and Krauss, Live from the NYPL”
–”Sheryl Sandberg, the VIDA Count, and Lessons on Leaning In”
–”Zionism Before Herzl”
–”Giving a Voice – and a Name – to Noah’s Wife” (Q&A with author Rebecca Kanner)
AND, I’m delighted to share another one of YOUR success stories:
“Just a note to thank you for drawing my attention to Wordrunner echapbooks. Their Spring chapbook is my novella ‘Our Place,’ three stories about how a man loses pieces of his life on a religious kibbutz in Israel. They’ve been a joy to work with, and even paid money.”
2. ARTICLE/LESSONS LEARNED
HOW MAJORING IN FAILURE HARVARD MADE ME THICK-SKINNED, SUPER-STUBBORN, AND READY FOR A WRITING LIFE
by Erika Dreifus
My undergraduate college – Harvard – was a perfect place to prepare for a writing life. But not for the reasons you think.
Not for the dizzying array of creative-writing classes (the college offered few; you had to submit a polished writing sample to compete for a spot in even introductory workshops). Not for benefits conferred by an on-campus MFA program (there wasn’t one). Not even for the vaunted connections (I was a first-generation Ivy Leaguer and only minimally “cooler” at Harvard than I’d been in high school). But even before I started seeing my classmates’ names (and seemingly just as quickly, those of younger alums) on book covers and within the pages of THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, I endured numerous experiences that could have encouraged me to give up.
At Harvard, it’s said, you don’t decide to write for the school newspaper. You try out. Admissions officers say that they could easily fill a freshman class with valedictorians. The same is likely true for high-school newspaper editors. (Yes, I was one.) My roommate and I couldn’t even squeeze in to the introductory meeting that the main campus newspaper hosted for potential staffers a couple of days into Freshman Week. So we left. Only later did I understand what my classmate Sheryl Sandberg is now telling everyone else: If you’re going to accomplish something, you can’t leave the room. In fact, it’s not enough to simply stay there. You have to “lean in.”
Next, I tried to join the staff of the most storied literary magazine on campus. This time, I actually managed to complete the entire application process, known as the “comp” (which is short for “competition”). Alas, that sense of accomplishment was short-lived, because I was soon told that I’d failed. Not that I was especially surprised, since every task I’d been assigned consisted of analyzing and explicating poetry, something that I cannot manage all that well even today; my skills were that much weaker when I was 18 and only a few weeks into Helen Vendler’s memorable British literature survey course.
My list of writing-related failures grew after freshman year. Take my attempt to become a contributor for the famous LET’S GO travel guides published by Harvard Student Agencies. That quest came to a screeching halt minutes into the interview (yes, students compete for LET’S GO jobs, too), when my interviewers, a group of friendly fellow students, asked me to give directions from one point of the campus to the subway station. Sadly, I have no sense of direction – something that would very likely hinder any travel writer, yes, but a challenge that I’d hoped to overcome as an official LET’S GO contributor. As I burbled a nonsensical reply, I knew that I’d lost any chance of securing the job. But I took vicarious pride and pleasure in the assignments made to some of my closest friends. In fact, their travels in Italy, Greece, Mexico, Egypt and elsewhere may have informed yours if you utilized LET’S GO guides for those destinations during the administration of George H.W. Bush.
I could detail many more writing-focused failures, rejections, and losses. But there’s a word count to consider, and a larger point to be made: Harvard helped me apprentice as a writer in ways that no admissions website or brochure will advertise. I was forced to confront a potentially immobilizing fear of failure. I was compelled to manage my relationship with the green-eyed monster early on. And, over time, I developed a healthy immunity to the rejections that more often than not characterize the writer’s life; I began that essential process of thickening my skin.
Harvard gave me other gifts. Before the Internet, Harvard’s libraries provided unsurpassed riches. Whatever wasn’t there could be gained, easily, by a highly resourced Inter-Library Loan section.
Before Amazon.com or Netflix, Harvard was located in a city bursting with bookstores and movie theaters. Not to mention the authors and other public figures who dropped by, seemingly daily, to lecture or read. It was a lively, creative place to be a thinking person – an essential precondition for good writing.
And then, of course, there were the people: the professors and teaching fellows who told me that my words mattered and pushed me to write better; the Famous Professor Emeritus who invited me to his home to discuss my senior honors thesis, which he discovered only because I’d dared to “lean in” and asked my eminent advisor to nominate it for an all-college prize (which it didn’t win); and the patient and generous friends who, at our most recent reunion, praised my book of short stories to our other classmates (including the Hollywood screenwriter who did so from his spot on stage for a panel on “alumni in the arts” – while I smiled from my place many rows back in the audience).
Sometimes, as an undergraduate, it seemed as though I was majoring in failure. Only now do I appreciate how much those failures – and how being the epitome of a small fish in a big pond early on – helped me. And my writing.
3. FEATURED RESOURCE: “THE SMART APPROACH TO CONTEST SUBMISSIONS”
From the folks at POETS & WRITERS: “The Smart Approach to Contest Submissions,” a list of seven strategies “for a more efficient (and hopefully more effective) process of submitting your work to contests.”
4. UPCOMING/ONGOING CONTESTS, COMPETITIONS, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES OF INTEREST
Artist-in-Residence Program in Vienna
http://www.bmukk.gv.at/medienpool/24448/air_call_2014.pdf (scroll to page 5 to reach the English-language guidelines)
Deadline: May 31, 2013
NO APPLICATION FEE INDICATED
“In co-operation with KulturKontakt Austria, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, the Arts and Culture makes available 50 residencies in Vienna for the year 2014. This call is open to artists, writers, composers, curators and art educators whose place of residence is outside of Austria.” Residencies in literature and literary translation are available for 1-2 months, with eligibility limited to applicants 40 years of age or younger. Program includes accommodation (“subject to availability”), “contribution to cost of living expenses of EUR800 per month,” public transit passes, and other benefits. Check the detailed guidelines and application instructions.
Mary Ballard Poetry Prize Contest
Deadline: June 30, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
“The winner of the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize will receive $500 and 25 printed copies of the chapbook. The chapbook will be sold in both physical and electronic versions via a publishing contract with Casey Shay Press.”
Durham University Institute of Advanced Study Fellowships
Deadline: June 9, 2013
NO APPLICATION FEE
“The IAS is a flagship project launched in October 2006 to mark the 175th anniversary of the foundation of Durham University. The aim of the Institute is to cultivate – and communicate to various publics – new thinking on big ideas through critical dialogue across professional and disciplinary boundaries. At the core of IAS activities lies a generously funded UK and international fellowship programme organised around an annual theme. This allows the IAS to gather together the world’s finest scholars and non-academics (e.g. intellectuals, artists, writers, journalists, policy makers, and politicians) from the full spectrum of science, social science, arts and humanities disciplines to address themes of global significance. The Institute provides its fellows with a setting that offers them freedom to think in an unconstrained way, exempt from the day to day demands of their normal professional obligations, and in the company of other thinkers from very different backgrounds. The IAS seeks to develop a truly global perspective by ensuring that its fellows are recruited from all over the world, including the global south.” The theme for 2014-2015 is “Emergence.”
FBFT Sports Writing Competition
Deadline: May 19, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
“First things first: the 2013 competition is – like in previous years – Free To Enter. As usual we are looking for the best sports writers to send us exciting, original, even abstract sports writing to help add zest and vigour to the genre. The contest is open to entrants of 18 years and older. You may write about any subject … as long as it relates to sport. Any sport…. Entries may be anything up to 1000 words and must be written in English.” Cash prizes (GBP50/30/20) and publication.
Drue Heinz Literature Prize
Deadline: Submit between May 1 and June 30, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
“The University of Pittsburgh Press announces the 2014 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for a collection of short fiction. The prize carries a cash award of $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press under its standard contract…The award is open to writers who have published a novel, a book-length collection of fiction, or a minimum of three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals of national distribution. On-line publication and self-publication do not count toward this requirement. The award is open to writers in English, whether or not they are citizens of the United States.”
Melita Hume Poetry Prize
Deadline: May 13, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
Judge: Jon Stone
“THE MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE is an award of GBP1,000 and a publishing deal with Eyewear Publishing Ltd., for the best first full collection of a young poet writing in the English language, 35 years of age or under. The aim of this prize is to support younger emerging writers during difficult economic times. This is open to any one of the requisite age, of any nationality, resident in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is free to enter. Melita Hume was a book collector, and compiler of poems and information about many authors.”
M Writer’s Residencies 2014-15
Deadline: June 1, 2013
NO APPLICATION FEE
“The M Literary Residency Programme has been established to disseminate a broader knowledge of contemporary life and writing in India and China today and to foster deeper intellectual, cultural and artistic links across individuals and communities. The intent of the residency is to provide space and time primarily for writing and location-specific research. It is not to be used as base for travel in order to undertake research further afield.” One three-month residency takes place near Bangalore, South India, and the other takes place in Shanghai. Transportation costs and housing are provided, as are stipends of US$1,000 for living expenses in each location. In Bangalore, meals are provided; in Shanghai, a stipend is provided to be applied toward the cost of meals.
Deadline: June 30, 2013
NO APPLICATION FEE
Camac (Centre d’Art/Marnay Art Centre, France) and the Fondation Tenot “offer each year a residency bursary to one visual artist, one writer and one musician or composer in order to create new career prospects for artists.” The bursary funds a two-month residency.
5. SUBMISSION ALERTS!!!
Open to new work for the month of May: NASHVILLE REVIEW, which “publishes the best in traditional and nontraditional genres….Both distinguished and emerging writers are encouraged to submit.” Pays: “Fiction, nonfiction, comics, film, and dance contributors are offered a flat fee of $100 per selection….Poetry contributors are offered $25 per poem.” http://www.vanderbilt.edu/english/nashvillereview/
Also open to submissions during May: GLIMMER TRAIN, which welcomes short stories (maximum 12,000 words). Pays: $700, plus 10 copies. http://glimmertrain.com/standard.html
Canada-based SUBTERRAIN is receiving submissions for an open-themed summer issue until May 15. Pays for published submissions: $25/poem and $25/page of prose. http://subterrain.ca/about/35/sub-terrain-writer-s-guidelines
ONE STORY’s submission window closes May 31. The magazine publishes literary fiction and pays $250 plus 25 contributor copies. NB: “One Story is looking for previously unpublished material. However, if a story has been published *in print* outside of North America, it will be considered. No stories previously published online will be accepted.” http://www.one-story.com/index.php?page=submit
THE GETTYSBURG REVIEW also closes to submissions May 31. “Payment is upon publication: $2.50 per line for poetry and $30 per printed page for prose.” http://www.gettysburgreview.com/submissions
CONTRARY MAGAZINE seeks submissions for its summer issue. Pays: “For original commentary, fiction, and poetry, Contrary Magazine pays $20 per author per issue, regardless of the number of works or nature of the submission. Reviews and Contrary Blog posts are usually unpaid. Upon receipt of invoice, payments will be made through Paypal.” http://contrarymagazine.com
From Toronto-based THE PURITAN: “Hurry up! The cutoff for Issue XXII: Summer 2013 is June 21, 2013. In typical fashion, we plan to release our next issue at the end of the season it claims to represent. So, we’re opening our pod-bay doors to submissions of fiction, poetry, reviews, recipes, and interviews. Check out our submission guidelines for more information.” Pays: $40 for a work of fiction or non-fiction, $50 for an interview, $50 for a review, $15 for a poem. http://www.puritan-magazine.com
BANCROFT PRESS publishes trade fiction and non-fiction, “and we publish, quite simply, what we like. We’ve done literary and commercial fiction, books on finance, sports, parenting, humor, history, biography…No topic is out of bounds for us if we think it’s done well and will make an important contribution to society.” See http://bancroftpress.com/2012/09/14/submission-guidelines/ and see also the recent PUBLISHERS WEEKLY article on the press: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/56669-bancroft-press-a-baltimore-maverick.html
6. BLOG NOTES
The newsletter is published just once each month, but there’s *always* something new at our Practicing Writing blog: fresh market news, current contest and job listings, links to writing-related articles, newly-discovered craft and business resources, and so much more. Regular blog features include:
–Monday Markets for Writers
–Friday Finds for Writers
Please visit, and comment! http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing/
And for those of you practicing writers who are interested in matters of specifically Jewish cultural interest, please also visit My Machberet (http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/my-machberet). For the curious, “machberet” is the Hebrew word for “notebook”.
Recent writing-focused posts there include:
–Theodor Herzl, George Eliot, and Me
–Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat
–From My Bookshelf: Three Reading Recommendations
7. NEWSLETTER MATTERS
Information contained in THE PRACTICING WRITER is collected from many sources, with the purpose of providing general references. It is researched to the best of our ability but readers should verify information when necessary and appropriate. THE PRACTICING WRITER and its editor/publisher disclaim any liability for the use of information contained within. Thank you for subscribing.
For updates and additional opportunity listings between newsletters, please check in with our “Practicing Writing” blog, http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Based in New York City, Erika Dreifus is the author of QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES, which is an American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. A member of the advisory board for J JOURNAL: NEW WRITING ON JUSTICE, she has taught for Harvard University, the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Adult Education, and the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Lesley University. Please visit http://www.erikadreifus.com to learn more about Erika’s work, and go directly to http://www.erikadreifus.com/quiet-americans/book-clubs/ to arrange for her to visit your book club!
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