THE PRACTICING WRITER
Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 12, Number 10: November 2015
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2015 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 (NO ENTRY/APPLICATION FEES)
5. Submission Alerts!!! (NO READING FEES)
6. Blog Notes
7. Newsletter Matters
1. EDITOR’S NOTE: WHAT’S NEW
Dear Practicing Writers:
I’m delighted to report some wonderful news about an author previously featured in this newsletter: Elizabeth Nunez, whom we “talked” to back in the August 2014 issue, has just won the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for nonfiction. Elizabeth received this honor for her memoir NOT FOR EVERYDAY USE, which was the focus of our interview.
As with all interviews in this newsletter, my exchange with Elizabeth was subsequently archived on my website. You can revisit it here: http://bit.ly/1Md1xr1. (And you’ll find other interviews archived at http://www.erikadreifus.com/resources/interviews/.)
Speaking of interviews: We have another one in store for you. So let’s get to it.
And here’s wishing everyone another excellent month of writing practice.
2. ARTICLE/LESSONS LEARNED: A NEW BOOK ON A NEW SCIENCE: Q&A WITH CASEY SCHWARTZ
A New Book on a New Science: Q&A with Casey Schwartz
by Erika Dreifus
I’m 99 percent certain that among all authors I’ve interviewed, Casey Schwartz is the one I’ve known the longest: I met her back in the 1980s, when she was a small child (and I, a teenager), attending Thanksgiving celebrations and Passover Seders at the home of our mutual cousins. So perhaps there has been more than the usual sense of pride and admiration at work as, from the sidelines, I’ve watched Casey work on and launch her first book: IN THE MIND FIELDS: EXPLORING THE NEW SCIENCE OF NEUROPSYCHOANALYSIS (Pantheon Books).
From the jacket copy: “‘I’d never been a science person,’ Casey Schwartz declares at the beginning of her far-reaching quest to understand how we define ourselves. Nevertheless, in her twenties, she was drawn to the possibilities and insights emerging on the frontiers of brain research.” The resulting book is both informative and engaging (don’t worry if you, too, self-identify as “not a science person” — the scenes, stories, and characters will draw you in). And I’m delighted that Casey is here to answer a few questions about her book.
Casey Schwartz has worked as a staff writer at NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST, where she covered neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry. Her writing has also appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES and the NEW YORK SUN, among other publications. A graduate of Brown University, she holds a master’s degree in psychodynamic developmental neuroscience from University College London. She lives in New York City, where she grew up. IN THE MIND FIELDS is her first book.
Please welcome Casey Schwartz:
ERIKA DREIFUS (ED): How and when did you realize that you had a book idea here, Casey?
CASEY SCHWARTZ (CS): I went off to graduate school at the age of 23, thinking I would be a psychologist. I had chosen an unusual program: one year at the Anna Freud centre in London, studying the classic masterworks of Freudian theory, and a second year, back in the United States, studying the brain at Yale. The whole idea of this program — which had never existed before — was to attempt to combine the two disciplines, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience. In so many ways, these fields seem to be kind of profoundly unrelated — and there is so very little correspondence between them. It was fascinating for me to observe that fundamental tension, even culture clash, that exists in our approach to understanding the mind versus the brain. Since when are those two different things?
It was when I met my main character, Mark Solms, during the second year of graduate school that I felt this could be a book. Solms, a hugely charismatic South African psychoanalyst/neuropsychologist/Freud translator/dream researcher is on the forefront of the movement to combine neuroscience and psychoanalysis. But for me, it was clear that he was just a fascinating character, and that through him (if he would cooperate, of course), I could tell a story about these two fields.
ED: Some portions of the book are more memoiristic–sections that deal with your education and family, for instance. In other segments, you are most definitely in journalistic or “narrative nonfiction” mode, reporting on others’ lives and work. Did you gravitate more toward one or the other approach? Can you tell us a bit about that?
CS: Actually, that was one of the struggles and challenges of this book: how to be present as a breathing character in a book about neuroscience and psychoanalysis. I felt I had to be there — I didn’t want to take a perhaps more traditional science-writing approach to this material. It was definitely more fun, more free, to write the memoir sections. But I wasn’t interested in being personal beyond what I felt naturally fit this book.
ED: Interviewing skills were obviously key for this book. What advice to you have for novice (or nervous!) interviewers?
CS: Well, let me start by saying that I am the daughter of a Texan — and not just any Texan, but one who is herself both a great conversationalist and a great journalist. [Editor’s note: Casey Schwartz’s mother is author and journalist Marie Brenner.] This is the point: interviews are conversations. I grew up listening to my mother on the phone. She was full of questions, but it was an absolute exchange, and she was enjoying herself. It was pleasurable — and why shouldn’t it be? It was all in that great Texas tradition of warmth and direct engagement. I think it’s a mistake to be very stiff or formal or clinical about interviewing. Rather, do your homework, be prepared — but then let you curiosity guide you in the moment itself.
ED: After reading the book, I can’t help sensing that, as a community, psychoanalysts are more willing to engage with neuroscience than vice versa. Would you say this is a fair comment? If so, what do you think explains these tendencies?
CS: I think it’s hard to generalize, but you might be right. Basically, psychoanalysis as a field is in trouble. Fewer and fewer patients seek it out; its institutes are all declining dramatically in membership. And we all know why this is — psychoanalysis feels old-fashioned, it feels passé, it feels like something we don’t really have a need or a place for in our incredibly fast-moving, data-driven culture, where almost every whim can be satisfied by clicking a button on a computer screen. So in a sense, psychoanalysis needs neuroscience much more than neuroscience feels it needs psychoanalysis.
I don’t know if I’ve ever met a neuroscientist who says: I desperately need to understand Freud’s concept of the unconscious. But it’s ironic — maybe they should. It took science until roughly 1980 to accept the idea that most of what happens in our brains happens outside of our conscious awareness. Yet Freud had been hip to this fact for almost an entire century. So who knows how much more progress neuroscience could have made by now if its practitioners had been willing to take some of these interesting, deep psychoanalytic ideas about how the mind works, and apply them to the studies of the brain?
ED: What’s next in your writing career?
CS: Not sure. Maybe fiction!
ED: Anything else you’d like us to know?
CS: Yes. This is intended for every writer who is struggling with something (aka, every writer). The piece of advice I’ve been given in the last 10 years is one word: persevere.
Thank you so much, Casey!
To learn more about Casey Schwartz and IN THE MIND FIELDS, please visit www.CaseySchwartz.com.
3. FEATURED RESOURCES: PITCH, PUBLISH AND PROSPER
Although it officially ended its regular posting schedule almost one year ago, the Pitch, Publish & Prosper blog holds an amazing collection of “tips and hacks” on science writing.
Fun fact: I’ve known one of the writers behind this site, Michelle Nijhuis, *almost* as long as I’ve known Casey Schwartz! During the summer of 1988, I was a resident advisor assigned to watch over a cluster of middle schoolers; Michelle was among them.
NB: If you like what you see on Pitch, Publish & Prosper, you’ll likely want to get a copy of THE SCIENCE WRITER’S HANDBOOK, co-edited by Thomas Hayden and Michelle.
4. UPCOMING/ONGOING CONTESTS, COMPETITIONS, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES OF INTEREST
A PUBLIC SPACE EMERGING WRITER FELLOWSHIPS
Deadline: November 15, 2015
NO APPLICATION FEE
“We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for our 2016 Emerging Writer Fellowships. Under this project, three emerging writers will be selected for six-month fellowships.” Fellowship packages include mentorship, publication in the magazine, a payment of $1,000, and work space in A PUBLIC SPACE’s Brooklyn offices (optional). Submission requirements include samples of short fiction or essays, so it would appear that this is not an opportunity aimed toward poets. NB: “Our focus when reviewing applications will be on finding writers who have not yet published or been contracted to write a book-length work and who would benefit from the time, space, and editorial attention the fellowships offer.” Note also: “Applicants from all across the world are encouraged to apply for these fellowships. The residency element in our offices is optional.”
W.Y. BOYD LITERARY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MILITARY FICTION
Deadline: December 1, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
“This award honors the best fiction set in a period when the United States was at war. It recognizes the service of American veterans and military personnel and encourages the writing and publishing of outstanding war-related fiction. Donated by William Young Boyd II.” Prize includes $5,000. Novel must have been published “during the year prior to the award.” Open to young adult and adult novels. NB: “Incidents of war can constitute the main plot of the story or merely provide the setting.”
CAMARGO FOUNDATION CORE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
Deadline: December 8, 2015
NO APPLICATION FEE
“The core Fellowship program offers fellowships to artists in all disciplines. This application category should be used for applications in creative writing (poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction) as well as playwriting. Individuals from all cultures, nationalities, and career levels are welcome. Selection of fellows is based on the quality of the project or specific area of inquiry proposed; the quality and significance of the professional accomplishments of the applicant; how relevant a fellowship at Camargo, in Provence, would be to the project or area of inquiry; and the importance of receiving a residency at this stage of the applicant’s career.” Fellowship residencies in Cassis, France, last from six to eleven weeks. Check the website/PDF for the fall 2016 and spring 2017 schedule. NB: “A stipend of 800US$ per month is available, as is funding for basic transportation to and from Cassis for the Fellow for the residency. In the case of air travel, basic coach class booked far in advance is covered.”
J. ANTHONY LUKAS WORK-IN-PROGRESS AWARD
Deadline: December 11, 2015 (received)
NO ENTRY FEE
“The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, in the amount of $30,000, will be given annually to aid in the completion of a significant work of nonfiction on a topic of American political or social concern. Recognizing that a nonfiction book based on extensive original research often overtaxes the resources available to its author, the project envisions the award as a way of closing the gap between the time and money an author has and the time and money that finishing a book requires.” NB: “Applicants for the award must already have a contract with a U.S.-based publisher to write a nonfiction book.”
NO TOKENS JOURNAL LETTER CONTEST
Deadline: November 15, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
Judge: Mary Gaitskill
For this competition, you should “write a letter or an ode to letters. All genres welcome. No word count, no entry fee.” Cash prizes ($300/$150/$50).
OUT OF THE BINDERS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Deadline: December 1, 2015
NO APPLICATION FEE
From BinderCon, “a conference and community for women and gender non‑conforming writers”: “The Out of the Binders Scholarship Program is designed to increase diversity by offering free admission to up to 50 promising writers who might not otherwise be able to attend due to financial hardship. Diversity includes but is not limited to: age; racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds; sexual orientation; gender identity; marital and parental status; disability. The scholarships include free attendance to all the events [at BinderCon in Los Angeles] on Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20, networking opportunities to meet agents and editors, and a ticket to the VIP party, but do not include airfare and/or accommodations, or food. (Some meals may be provided as part of the conference programming.)” NB: “We are pleased to be able to offer stipends to a select group of out of town participants and parents who need financial assistance with childcare. Please check below if you would like to be considered for one or both stipends.” Check the appropriate boxes on the application if you would like to be considered for one or both stipends.
TONY QUAGLIANO INTERNATIONAL POETRY AWARD
Deadline: December 1, 2015 (received)
NO ENTRY FEE
“This award honors Tony Quagliano’s contribution to the world of poetry, and recognizes an accomplished poet with an outstanding body of work. The poet must consistently strive for ‘cutting edge’ and ‘avant-garde’ innovation, which means experimental, innovative, ‘pushing the envelope’ literature.” This biennial prize confers an award of $1,000. See detailed guidelines for eligibility criteria.
SHORELINE OF INFINITY STORY WRITING COMPETITION
Deadline: December 21, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE INDICATED
“Here we have a specially commissioned artwork from Dumfries artist Stephen Pickering, and we’d like you to write a science fiction story inspired by one or more of the panels.” Prize: GBP80, a print of Stephen’s artwork and a 4 issue digital subscription. “The story will be published in Issue 3, of which the winner will also receive a printed edition. We’ll also do an interview with the winning author to run alongside the story.” NB: “Submissions accepted from anywhere in the world.” (Thanks to http://shortstops.info for pointing us to this one.)
TICKNER WRITING FELLOWSHIP
Deadline: December 9, 2015
NO APPLICATION FEE
“Gilman School, an independent boys’ school, announces its search to award the 21st Tickner Writing Fellowship to an emerging poet or playwright. Responsibilities include teaching one senior elective in creative writing each semester, organizing a series of readings, advising the literary magazine, and working one-to-one with students in the Tickner Writing Center. The Tickner Fellow teaches every other day, affording time for independent writing projects. Salary: $35,000, plus full benefits package.”
UNT RILKE PRIZE
Deadline: November 30, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
This is an “annual award of $10,000 recognizing a book that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year.” For this year’s prize, eligible books must have been published between November 1, 2014, and October 31, 2015. “Entrants must have published at least two previous books of poetry and be U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens of the United States.”
WORDS AND BRUSHES COMPETITION
Deadline: December 1, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
“This competition is open to all published and unpublished writers. There are no geographical restrictions on entry. Select one or more paintings from the image gallery and use your creative prowess to write a short story around that piece.” Prize: “The judges’ top selection will receive $300 and will be published on our web site with credits. Our vision is to publish an art book that is a collaborative work between writers and artists. ” (via http://placesforwriters.com)
5. SUBMISSION ALERTS!!!
“RECOMMENDED READING, a magazine by Electric Literature, publishes one story a week, each chosen by today’s best authors and editors. Though Recommended Reading features original fiction as well as reprints, we will only consider previously unpublished stories during our open submission period. Before submitting, please take some time to read Recommended Reading, especially those recommended by Electric Literature, in which we showcase original fiction. Recommended Reading publishes fiction ranging in length from 2,000 to 8,000 words, and pays each contributor $300.” Deadline: November 6, 2015. https://electricliterature.submittable.com/submit
“CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW is seeking work for our Summer/Fall 2016 special issue, ‘Family, Enemies, Friends: The Relationships Issue.’ We are open to work that covers any of the multitude of ways that our relationships shape us, whether they are positive or negative, nurturing or adversarial. Family, enemies, or friends — we want to see work about people interacting with the people in their lives. All submissions should be original, unpublished poetry, fiction, or literary nonfiction in English. Please inquire before submitting any translations.” Deadline: November 10, 2015. Pays: “Writers whose work is selected will receive $25 (US) per magazine page ($50 minimum for poetry; $100 minimum for prose) and two copies of the issue.” See http://craborchardreview.siu.edu/special.html for more information.
“WORDTECH COMMUNICATIONS LLC welcomes submissions of book-length and chapbook-length poetry manuscripts from residents of the United States. Unlike most poetry publishers, we do not charge reading fees. All chosen manuscripts are published under a royalty contract….Our reading period for full-length manuscripts is November.” Note that WordTech selects and publishes books through six imprints, each of which has a different focus. You are encouraged to suggest “which imprint you feel fits your manuscript best.” http://www.wordtechcommunications.com/deadline-list.htm
“DUCTS.org is launching a new web comic section with its December 2015 issue and is eager to receive your submissions! We pay $20 per published submission. We’re primarily looking for original, unpublished cartoons and web comics….We’re also interested in other forms of visual narrative that may not fit the mold of traditional cartoons or web comics — these pieces may take a primarily written form but incorporate visual elements as a central part of the storytelling.” Deadline: November 15. (NB: Ducts.org reads submissions in other genres from January through August.) http://www.ducts.org/content/submissions/
CONTRARY welcomes submissions for its winter issue until December 1. “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.” http://contrarymagazine.com/submissions-2/
An anthology titled NOT THAT BAD will be co-edited by Roxane Gay and Ashley C. Ford; it will be published by Harper Perennial. From the call for submissions: “Victims and survivors of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse have been taught by this culture that whatever horror they have endured could have been worse. At least you weren’t touched. At least you weren’t raped. At least you weren’t killed. This world effectively silences those who have been violated by demanding their first reaction be gratitude for what did not happen. NOT THAT BAD is an opportunity for those whose voices were stolen from them, to reclaim and tell their stories. This anthology will explore what it is like to navigate rape culture as shaped by the identities we inhabit. Contributing to this anthology is a chance to own your own narrative with all of the complexity of reality without shame or condescension. Because too many of us have lived this truth, there is no one way to tell this story. We warmly encourage submissions from people from all walks of life and across the gender spectrum.” Deadline: December 15, 2015. “All accepted contributions will be paid.” See https://notthatbad.submittable.com/submit for more information. NB: Essays as well as comics and graphic essays are invited.
Write poems about work? Perhaps they’ll be a fit for BEYOND magazine’s “Work in Verse” column, which ” takes poems that reflect on some element of work. Each issue of BEYOND will feature one poem in print, and the ‘Work in Verse’ column online will share a new poem monthly, beginning in January 2016.” For information about this new magazine and the poetry and other columns for which it seeks submissions, check managing editor Sarah M. Wells’s extensive post at https://brevity.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/beyond-essays-poems-photos-from-the-workplace. Pays: “Beyond will offer $40 for work published online and $100 for the pieces that are selected for the print publication.”
“For a new anthology, IN FACT BOOKS is seeking true stories that capture the complexities and comforts of sibling relationships. We hope to represent the widest possible variety of sibling relationships—whether adoptive or biological, step or full, human or animal, one or many.” The call for submissions is detailed and interesting. Note, for example: “We love personal essays, but also profiles, histories, and science-driven scenarios. So maybe your story isn’t about you at all.” You may submit via postal mail without a fee (there is a fee to submit online). Deadline: March 7, 2016. Pays: Payment is not described on the website, so I inquired. Via email, I was told: “Contributors to In Fact Books titles are paid a small amount for their work, usually around $150.” Visit http://www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions/siblings to read the call.
Passing this on from FIG TREE BOOKS (where, as you may recall, I am Media Editor: “Fig Tree Books LLC is now accepting memoirs and young-adult and graphic-novel manuscripts in addition to literary novels that are concerned with the American Jewish Experience (AJE). We accept both agented and unrepresented manuscripts and pay competitive advances and standard royalties. All of our books are made available in print and e-format.” For more information/guidelines, please visit https://figtreebooks.net/submit-a-manuscript/.
And a reminder to check in once every so often on the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL site. On http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics, you’ll see a list of anthology projects in development on an array of themes. “If we publish your story or poem, you will be paid $200 ($100 for devotionals) one month after publication of the book and you will receive ten free copies of the book your story or poem appears in.” NB: “Please submit only stories or poems that have not been previously published. The only exception to this is if your work has only been published in a small local publication with limited circulation or on your own blog.”
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
–Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer (formerly “Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress”)
–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”.
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 programs in creative writing at Lesley University and the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts. In August 2014, Erika joined Fig Tree Books as Media Editor. 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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