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Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

BreadGiversFirst, the Good News

Last week brought a byline I’ve been working literally years to see.

As an avid reader and fan of Tablet magazine from its outset, I’ve sent submissions and/or pitches–essays, poems, book reviews–to various editors for a very long time. With no success (though with gracious and friendly responses).

Finally, my persistence yielded something more: a dispatch from a terrific literary event—a celebration of Anzia Yezierska’s classic novel Bread Givers—that I attended last Wednesday evening.

Yay for me! And thank you, Tablet[P.S. If you’re interested, I’ve written about Bread Givers twice before.]

But—(You Knew This Was Coming, Right?)

On the very same afternoon that the Tablet piece appeared—less than one hour later!—I received a brief email informing me that (yet again), I’d failed to win a grant that I’d applied for. In this case, persistence has evidently not yet paid off, since this is the third (or is it the fourth?) time I’ve applied for this particular grant.

This year, I thought I had a really good shot.

Guess I was wrong.

Advice for Memoirists and Hanukkah Lights

I spent Sunday at the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Writers’ Seminar here in New York. And then I spent some time on Monday writing up a post for the Fig Tree Books blog summarizing some highlights from Shulem Deen’s superb keynote address, “Craft vs. Indulgence: Finessing the Memoir Form Beyond Telling Your Story.”

When I returned home, it was time to light the Hanukkah menorah (called a “hanukkiah”) for the last time this year. I think you can see why Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights. It’s really a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar. But it sure is a pretty one!


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6 Responses »

  1. It means a lot to me to hear that someone I view as very successful has also experienced quite a few disappointments. I really needed to hear this today. Thanks for a wonderful blog!

  2. Erika, same here. My persistence is stiffened by your words here. Post hanukkah message I hear aquí is keep writing (if that is what you must do) and evolving and sending out work into the world when it’s ready. Gracias.

  3. Sorry you had disappointments. We all do, but I must say you are a generous writer to offer so much advice and help. I wish you the very best, and glad I am on your mailing list.

  4. Bravo! I read “In Praise of Polyglossia”
    I totally understand why you didn’t speak up. I attended the University of Pittsburgh graduate program for a short time. And a certain famous poet–perhaps you already know who–was sitting amongst his “yes men” at Hemingways, a local venue where poetry readings were hosted. I noticed before I went up to read that he offered boisterous, alcoholic criticisms on everyone’s poetry as his tight group cried out in laughter afterwards. I crept up to the stage and read. There was dead silence. I didn’t know how to interpret this but at least they weren’t laughing. The next week, my reference letter which was the primary reference used to award me a full teaching assistantship was “missing” and my assistantship award was withdrawn. Was my poem that bad? Lol! I withdrew from the program because I didn’t have the funds to continue. Years later, after I married a Japanese man and moved to Japan, I noticed a poet whom I respect and whose work I resonate with– former wife of the aforementioned one, started a creative writing program at Chatam College–and I am so glad I read that piece of news. I realized in that moment that there was a good reason that I never had the chance to continue on at Pitt.

  5. Really appreciate everyone’s comments. Thank you.

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