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Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

My First Podcast

I have finally made my podcast debut! The bonus: I appear in the latest episode of one of my own favorite podcasts: HevriaCast.

If you’re not familiar with HevriaCast, here’s its official description: “If you’re fascinated by creativity in a Jewish context, join Elad Nehorai as he talks to some of the Jewish world’s most fascinating creative Jews about their work, their lives, and their relationship to their religion. Rather than an interview format, these are freewheeling, intimate discussions about anything and everything. An official Hevria podcast. Our home is at hevria.com.”

I’ll confess that I was a little daunted by the prospect of appearing on a podcast. But I was also incredibly honored to be invited to be a guest on one of my favorites. And host Elad Nehorai made me feel very welcome when we recorded this conversation a couple of months ago. (Please don’t be confused if you hear us referencing my then-day job; I was working at Fig Tree Books LLC then, but I’m not now. My departure really did happen!)

My thanks (again) to Elad for the invitation to chat on topics that matter so much to us both. I hope that some of you may take the time to listen—and I hope that you enjoy the episode!

“Making Poetry Pay: Five Ways to Increase Your Poetry Income”

Monday brought the publication of an article of mine on the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) website. I suppose we can call it my latest “writing about writing” piece. It certainly touches on some perennial “favorite topics” for such work. (Submission fees! “Writing for free”! Rejection!)

It was inspired by some thoughts that occurred to me as I reviewed and reflected on the poetry stats that I kept throughout 2016 for Poetry Has Value (stats that are continuing in 2017 right here). So you could say that it’s a “lessons learned” article, too.

You can read “Making Poetry Pay: Five Ways to Increase Your Poetry Income” on the AWP site’s “The Writer’s Notebook” section.

And in Less Impressive News

It may seem as though I’ve had a pretty “successful” week, right? And in many ways, I have. I know that.

But I also had to do something this week that I have literally never done before. And it’s not something to brag about.

I had to back out of an assignment that I’d already accepted.

The short version: I realized that with my collection of current commitments something had to give. And so, with difficulty, I decided to step away from an essay I had been invited to write. (I would have felt even worse composing an “I can’t do this any longer” email for an assignment I had pitched in the first place.)

The deadline I’d been given was still a couple of weeks away, but I was having trouble immersing myself in the commissioned project. My anxiety level about that was increasing every day—which made it more challenging to focus on all of my other work and commitments.

Which produced more anxiety. (Of course.)

Ultimately, I just couldn’t foresee the essay coming together in time. And I thought that as unwelcome as the news might be to my editor this past week, it would be even less pleasant to receive closer to deadline.

There is a happy (or at least, not an unhappy) ending here. For one thing, the commissioning editor was supremely gracious and kind. (If she is reading this, I thank her for that once again.) And for another, I really did experience a sense of relief. And I have made more progress on the other tasks awaiting my attention with this one removed from the mix.

This isn’t a practice that I hope to repeat any time soon. (Or ever). But I do think that for me, at this time, it was the right thing to do.

Perhaps this isn’t the most inspiring note to end on. But I’d be interested to know about any similar experiences any of you might have had. At what point, if any, have you had to step away from a writing assignment? What happened when you did?

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4 Responses »

  1. Erica, I received a work-for-hire book assignment this week with the promise of November delivery. But then the editor said she made a mistake and the deadline was October 24. I told her I would have to bow out, and then she offered me an extension. I accepted it. While I have no idea how I’m going to pull this off (18,000 words) while teaching six classes at three colleges, I also have no idea right now if one or more of this classes will be pulled from my schedule. Since my finances are always in a precarious situation, at least I know I’ll have this money coming in before the IRS claims most of it.

  2. I really appreciate your article, and want to affirm that $500 = $500. Thanks for the clear directions and inspiration!

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