Occasional Notes from a Practicing Writer

Have you missed me? Sure, I’ve been continuing to share opportunities and resources—but I think it’s been quite a while (a few months, in fact) since I’ve dedicated a post to what’s been going on at my own desk.

a notepad and a couple of pens.
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

In part, that’s because, frankly, there’s been a lot less going on than usual. I won’t delve into the reasons right now.

But! Things are looking up.

And I thought that I’d tiptoe out, cautiously optimistic, to share.

  • In case you missed it, my latest byline appears in Moment magazine, for a review of Tova Reich’s soon-to-be-published The House of Love and Prayer and Other Stories.
  • My name also popped up recently in The Writer magazine, where Yi Shun Lai interviewed me for part of a package of articles about Jewish literature. Check your library for access to the April 2023 issue (and do not miss the related pieces by Kathleen Alcalá and Heidi Rabinowitz; I’m including a photograph of Heidi’s contribution below—it’s particularly important with Jewish American Heritage Month [in Canada, Jewish Heritage Month] starting so soon [May 1]).
Pages 18 and 19 of the May 2023 issue of The Writer magazine. Titled "The Nightstand," the spread features reading recommendations from librarian and podcaster Heidi Rabinowitz.
  • Anthology update #1: You can now pre-order The Art of Touch: A Collection of Prose and Poetry from the Pandemic and Beyond, coming from the University of Georgia Press in October. Edited by Joan Schweighardt and Faye Rapoport DesPres, the book includes my poem “Miriam, Quarantined.”
  • Anthology update #2: I’m not sure of the release date for this one, but I have also approved the proof for a poem that will be included in this volume from CCAR Press:
Catalog listing for THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS: A JUBILEE IN PROSE AND POETRY HONORING WOMEN RABBIS, edited by Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, Jessica Greenbaum, and Rabbi Hara E. Person.
  • Anthology update #3: I believe that I mentioned, way back, that I’d been commissioned to write a new short story for an upcoming anthology—and that I’d been working on it. I submitted my draft at the end of December and the co-editors’ feedback since then has been encouraging enough that I feel confident in telling you that, yes, my piece (tentative title: “Upon the Hills”) will indeed be included in the book, described below.
Publishers Marketplace Deal Report for SMASHING THE TABLETS: RADICAL READINGS OF THE JEWISH BIBLE, edited by Sara Lippmann and Seth Rogoff, to be published by SUNY Press in fall 2024.
  • Kidlit report: After last year’s rejection, I fully intended to reapply for the 2023 PJ Library Summer Camp for Writers and Illustrators of Jewish Picture Books at the Highlights Foundation. But when they posted the application announcement recently, I noticed that they’ve shifted the dates; even if they accepted me, I wouldn’t be able to attend this year (I’m due to begin teaching again that same week). So, that’s a disappointment. As is my participation these past few months in the 12X12 picture-book challenge that I told you about in January. However, just this week I’ve learned about an opportunity that has prompted me to return to a many-times-rejected manuscript to see if I can reconfigure it for this new purpose. And some other ideas are percolating in my mind.
  • “Five Not-So-Easy Pieces”: I have notes, partial drafts, and other…material…for at least five essayistic pieces that I’d love to be able to tell you more about. (Seriously: being able to describe all of this clearly would be a step in the right direction.) The good news is that I am beginning to feel at least a little less confused/overwhelmed and a little more hopeful that maybe (just maybe) some progress may be in the not-too-distant future.
  • Updating my resume: I know—we’re all supposed to keep our resumes up-to-date all the time. (There are a lot of things that we are supposed to do.) But honestly, I need help. When one gig announcement caught my eye the other day, I realized (again) that I have been updating my resume for longer than many of today’s job/fellowship applicants have been alive. You’d think that this would make the work easier—but somehow, the opposite is true. People, I need models! I need, especially, models that 1) account for the multiplicity of professional and publication experiences that characterize writers’ work lives (to be perfectly honest, I probably need help with this for both the extended academic c.v. format and the more “mainstream” resume) and 2) have figured out how to deal with copywriting conventions: italics for journal/magazine websites? Include URLs/hyperlinks to published work? (again, ultimately I should probably aim for confidence here for both the c.v. and the resume, but right now, I’m starting with the latter). If you can recommend good examples or templates, please mention in comments. Thank you.
  • Celebrating a 20th-anniversary year and looking ahead: Yes, we’re now a couple of months into my my newsletter‘s twentieth-anniversary year. By now, I’d hoped to have put in place some small but nonetheless celebratory events and activities. Here, too, I haven’t kept up with my own ambitions. At the same time, Substack has been moving ahead with new features that are prompting me to focus on some administrative considerations I’ve delayed dealing with. Specifically, I am wondering if these blogs and online resources should remain housed and headquartered here on my website, or if I should be making more use of Substack (including, perhaps, the new Notes feature) to connect more readers with the material. Here, too, I could benefit from others’ advice and insights, so please comment. In the meantime, I continue to do the usual work with researching, curating, and sharing opportunities and news. Most recently, I’ve updated this list of writing residencies that are free (both to apply for and to attend). And I’ve been preparing the May 2023 newsletter issue, which will go out to nearly 8,000 subscribers this weekend. (I mean, very nearly: As I type this, we’re fewer than 20 subscribers away from 8,000!). Remember that the newsletter is free and people really seem to like it! (I’m so grateful that they tell me so and share their “success stories”—especially when I’m feeling majorly immobilized with my own writing practice, it means a lot to me to know that I am indirectly contributing to other people getting their work done and/or getting it to readers.) So please subscribe, if you haven’t already, and encourage your writing friends/students/networks to do the same.

One final note: If there’s any sense of momentum and productivity in what I’ve written here, a big chunk of the credit goes to one of my BFFs, for allowing me to turn a recent routine phone call into a spur-of-the-moment coaching session. (Deb, you are GOOD at what you do!)


a notepad and a couple of pens.

9 thoughts on “Occasional Notes from a Practicing Writer

  1. Erika,
    I’ve missed these notes! Thanks for sharing so much with your readers.
    I applaud your persistence with picture books. I keep saying I’ve given up on them, but I do love them, and want to make all my rejected mss. work somehow.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Well, you are more than making up for any distance from PBs with all of your other books! You’re an inspiration, Barb.

  2. Nice updates! THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS: A JUBILEE IN POETRY AND PROSE HONORING WOMEN RABBIS is scheduled for publication this summer and will be available at https://www.ccarpress.org/.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thanks so much, Rafael! I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to return to “Rightful Places” and to have it included.

  3. Thanks so much, Erika. I so look forward to receiving your Notes and all of the information you provide that helps me in putting pen to paper. You continue to give me confidence.

  4. Congrats on all your recent successes, Erika. Regarding your CV, for what it’s worth, I think the different pages on your website that list your publications (nonfiction, poetry, etc) are among the best I’ve seen. So readable, so informative, easy to navigate. Those would be my template for at least part of your CV but on the other hand, I haven’t done a CV in a while. 🙂

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank you very much!

  5. h. renell says:

    In regards to just using Substack — I have been thinking about that too. It is an awesome place for writers. However, my thoughts are if at all possible due to the money/time issues, I think keeping a website is good insurance in case Substack goes down. I don’t foresee this, but they have had issues in the past. And our economy right now is not in good shape right now.

    It’s a joy to see how other writers are faring in their writing lives. Blessings to you.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Yes, it is a bit anxiety-inducing to place total (or near-total) trust in Substack (or any other platform).

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