Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

1. It’s not every day that one of this blog’s readers alerts me to the fate of one of my own contest entries.

But that’s exactly what happened over the weekend, when Nancy Brewka-Clark left this comment on last week’s Midweek Notes post. As our exchange on the post reveals, it’s through Nancy that I discovered that one of my poems had been received honorable mention (free-verse category) in the latest Rhyme On Poetry Contest. (And one of Nancy’s was named runner-up for “funniest poem.”)

All of the winning, runner-up, and honorable mention poems have been assembled in an e-book that can be downloaded here. But here’s a snapshot of “When Your Niece Attends a Jewish Day School,” too.

Text of the poem “When Your Niece Attends a Jewish Day School.”

2. The week also brought publication of another poem, “The O-Word,” which begins:

I see it here, I see it there;
some days, I seem to see it everywhere:
“Occupation!” so many cry,
never bothering to mention why
or how Israel came to control
certain land and the Western Wall.

Full text on the Jewish Journal website.

In publishing this poem, I’m thinking back to a comment I received from a friend after she read my story collection. This is a friend I met when we were first-year PhD students in the same history program. My friend has gone on to a full-fledged, highly successful career as an academic historian. After she read my book, she told me that I was still writing/teaching history, too—I was just doing it in fiction.

These days, I’m not writing fiction anymore. But I hope that I’m bringing the same historian’s skills and tendencies to some of my poems. Like this one.

3. And speaking of matters poetic and Judaic, as I’ve been doing in this post: I’ve just signed up for a summer adult-education course on prayer and Israeli poetry. I can’t wait to begin (even if I haven’t quite yet finished all of the reading for the first class).

What’s new in your writing practice?

12 thoughts on “Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

  1. Temima Goldberg Shulman says:

    I would love to hear about this course, the reading list, who is teaching it and what you’re learning!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      I’ll e-mail you, Temima!

  2. The question of “What’s new in your writing practice?” affected me in ways I could not have predicted. It made me think of what is my writing practice? What was it before? What is it now? The answer I came up with is not satisfactory. To embark on my PhD journey, I’ve put most of my creative writing aside. I’ve had to let go of classes and workshops to save money for tuition. The only books I read are those for class, to prep for the classes I teach, and those I need to review for various publications for my own blog, The Whole Megillah. But there’s been another dynamic, too. Back in April, at Seder, a relative demanded I take down a mention and link of a recently published personal essay. That demand zapped my joy of writing. I’m slowly rebounding.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Oh, dear. I’m sorry to hear about all these challenges, Barbara.

  3. Sandy Soli says:

    Erika, I am a poet who occasionally publishes flash fiction. I am disappointed about your experience withthe personal essay. Writers write what we must, in spite of pushbacks and disapproval of relatives or general public. Best wishes for continuing success in all your projects. If I mentioned a personal essay about my mentally ill mother, I would be pitched off a cliff by relatives! What subject matter is fit to write about? Not their decision! Our goal and only obligation is to connect with readers. As always, thanks for all you do for writers.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Hi, Sandy. I’m a bit confused by the comment. Are you addressing it to Barbara, above? I don’t think I’ve mentioned anything in my own post about an essay….

      1. Sandy Soli says:

        Yes, to Barbara. Sorry for the muddle, both of you!

  4. Nancy Brewka-Clark says:


    I must correct the name of the library to Loudoun, apologies for forgetting how it was spelled. And I also forgot to say how touching your poem is, filled with love for the past, tolerance for the present and hope for the future.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      I made a mistake the first time I mentioned them on Twitter, so I definitely get it!

  5. Jean Fengold says:

    What’s new in my writing practice are the prospects of future projects. Through LinkedIn, a new client contacted me who will sooner or later need blog posts and white papers. While there are no specific projects yet, we have shared general expectations.

    And my best client for magazine feature articles has indicated a desire to have me do blog posts and other writing for her group sometime soon. I am optimistic both of these futures will materialize soon.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Good to hear!

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