Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress

DeathtoStock_Creative Community3I couldn’t decide which of three possible topics to address in this week’s “work-in-progress” post. So I’ve taken what is definitely the easy way out: I am giving you brief summaries of each. (Hey, maybe I should ask which of the three you’d all prefer to hear more about in a subsequent post. What do you think about that?)

Topic 1: My Return to a Fiction Workshop
Honestly, I thought my days in fiction workshops–as a student, at any rate–were over. But several factors compelled me to sign up for the six-week class I began here in Manhattan a couple of days ago. First: the workshop combines my affinities for both Jewish studies and fiction writing by using traditional Jewish texts to help writers “engage with Jewish thematic material, deepen character and plot, explore nuances of language, and uncover new approaches to craft.” Second: the workshop is led by a wonderful writer I met at a conference some months ago when she presented some oh-so-impressive work of her own. And third–perhaps most important to me because, as I’ve confessed publicly, I haven’t written any new fiction in a long time–the workshop is highly generative.

As I say, the first session has now come and gone. Readers, it was fantastic. The texts, the exercises, the inspiring work shared by others in the group. I couldn’t be happier that I’m taking this class.

Topic 2: A New Form for an “Old’ Essay
The new issue of carte blanche went live late last week. It includes an audio version of my essay “Sunday in the City,” which the same publication published in its original text back in 2012. I was honored when carte blanche approached me about producing the essay in audio form. But I didn’t quite anticipate the changes that would be made even after I’d reviewed and responded to initial edits. You may not notice what has been deleted from the essay. But I’ve noticed.

That said, as an audio work, the piece has been beautifully produced–truly top-notch. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to enjoy the entire new issue, but I hope to do so shortly.

Topic 3: The Return of the Question of “Writing for Free”
Okay, so that question has never really gone away. But I’ve been thinking about it again this week, in large part thanks to Kate Gace Walton’s thoughtful post over on Work Stew. I have a number of thoughts bubbling here, but I haven’t yet organized them. What I most appreciate about Kate’s post, though (in addition to the honesty and respectfulness that pervade it), is that it shows Kate’s efforts to grapple with multiple, conflicting viewpoints and perspectives. If I do write more on this topic at some later time, I’ll use Kate’s post as a model.

So, there you have them. Any of these three topics pique your interest for further commentary?

9 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress

  1. Atar Hadari says:

    I vote for a further discussion of the “Write for Free” question. I offer one tiny observation based on my own limited sample: editors who pay for my work, even if it’s $10, seem to want to spend time making it look pretty on their website. Editors who haven’t paid for it seem to have no investment in it and to just slap it up there in what is a glorified manuscript page. It is that phenomenon, more than the longing for $10, which will be in my mind next time I’m asked if I’ll have a piece published for free.

  2. Matt L. says:

    As I live the practicing writer life vicariously through your blog posts and newsletters, mark me in the “More about your return to a fiction workshop, please.” column. 🙂

  3. Erika, that’s so great that you are returning to a fiction workshop!!! So you’re starting on your next book of stories? 🙂 Good luck with it.

    Btw, a magazine that’s accepted one of my stories wants me to record a podcast of it. I’m honored. But now I have to figure out how to do it, with my not-up-to-date computer equipment. Do you run into any problems?

  4. Leslie Grollman says:

    Hi, Erika. I would love to hear more about your fiction workshop.

  5. Joan Bailey says:

    Frankly, I’d like to hear more about all three. Number three and number one strike closest to home, though.

  6. Erika Dreifus says:

    I love all of these responses! A quick reply for now, to John–I wasn’t at all involved in the production of the audio in this case. However, I *have* had to record my work in the past: see this post for more: And good luck!

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