Occasional Notes from a Practicing Writer

It’s been a couple of months—shortly before the end of April—since I’ve last shared some “Occasional Notes from a Practicing Writer.” Herewith, some updates:

Anthology news: In April’s installment, I mentioned two upcoming anthology publications—neither volume is quite out yet, but there are now covers to share!

I have poems in each of these anthologies, which are both available for pre-order now, The First 50 Years: A Jubilee in Prose and Poetry Honoring Women Rabbis from CCAR Press, and The Art of Touch: A Collection of Prose and Poetry from the Pandemic and Beyond from University of Georgia Press, where, I’ve been told, you can currently apply code 08AUEV for a 30% discount off the list price.

Back in that earlier post, I also mentioned a third anthology contribution: a short story for Smashing the Tablets: Radical Readings of the Jewish Bible. This volume, edited by Sara Lippmann and Seth Rogoff, is expected to be published in fall 2024. Since April, I’ve completed the editors’ requested revisions. (I am already eagerly anticipating the cover reveal for this one!)

Kidlit report: In April, I expressed some hope/enthusiasm for a new approach to an old manuscript. Now it can be told: I tried to re-frame the manuscript, which was intended for a picture-book, as an article for a children’s magazine. I sent it in—and, in due course, received a rejection. After that, I (re)discovered another publishing possibility (in book form). That submission went out just this past week.

“Five Not-So-Easy Pieces”: In the previous post, I mentioned that I had “notes, partial drafts, and other…material…for at least five essayistic pieces that I’d love to be able to tell you more about.” I’ve since written and begun sending out (and receiving rejections for) one of those pieces. Another was published in June in Lit Mag News; you can find “How to Avoid Submission Fees: Lessons Learned from 20+ Years of Sending Out My Work—and Curating Opportunities for Others” over there.

And thanks to Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsOfSummer project, I’ve made progress on some others. (One idea remains stubbornly impossible for me to grapple with, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me.)

There were a couple of other items I mentioned in that post for which I don’t really have anything new to share, so I’ll let those rest.

On the other hand: There have been a couple of other, newer, developments that I can briefly mention. (They’re not all necessarily explicitly writing-focused, but I’d say that they’re certainly “writing-adjacent.”)

For example: I (finally!) launched a “shop” on Bookshop.org. (If Bookshop.org is new to you, a quick explainer: “Bookshop.org works to connect readers with independent booksellers all over the world….Every purchase on the site financially supports independent bookstores.”) Affiliate “shops” like mine can also earn small commissions. As I’ve mentioned on my own shop page, I plan to give my own affiliate earnings to a rotating list of (primarily Jewish) book- and literary-focused organizations.

But the main reason I launched the shop isn’t financial (I’ve earned nothing yet). It’s organizational: I thought that by using the site’s list feature I could provide an “easier” way for people to check out the Jewish-American short-story collections that I spotlighted in a tweet-a-day project that I sustained all through May (which, in case you didn’t know this, was both Jewish American Heritage Month and Short Story Month). Yes, on Twitter, you get my commentary and links, but Twitter isn’t for everybody (especially these days).

screenshot of header for my Bookshop list titled 2023 #JewishAmericanHeritageMonth and #ShortStoryMonth Spotlights.

The only wrinkle is that I couldn’t locate every featured book on Bookshop.org, so if you want to check out everything that I mentioned, you will need to return to Twitter, after all.

Course development: I’ll be back in the classroom the last week in August, and so my preparations are now underway. That includes a couple of experiments with ChatGPT, which you can read about here and here, and a fair amount of reading. One particular highlight in this context: On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash, trans. Ellen Cassedy (Northern Illinois University Press, 2018). For the upcoming course on Contemporary Jewish Short Stories, I’m seeking readings to help present the very contemporary focus on reviving the work of Yiddish women writers, particularly through newly available translations. I’m likely to use work from this collection, which held my attention throughout; I will also depend on Jessica Kirzane’s fine introduction and Cassedy’s remarks as I’ve already encountered them in a recent webinar (yes, I’ve been watching lots of webinars, too; I rely on relevant recordings for some of the asynchronous content in my “hybrid” courses). As I read, I was reminded of Ida Fink’s (originally Polish) writing, which, similarly, I have encountered only recently, and which I have incorporated into my Holocaust Literature teaching. (FYI: I’ve adapted these past couple of sentences from my page-in-progress of “brief book reviews.”)

One reliable constant: The May and June newsletters went out right on time, and as I write this update July’s awaits my proofreading attention (subscribers will receive it on Friday, June 30; as always, it’s free, so if you’re not yet a subscriber, join us).

I’ve caught some lovely shout-outs for the newsletter from some wonderful people and resources over the past couple of months. I’m so grateful, and I hope you’ll allow me to indulge in sharing:

  • “The Practicing Writer 2.0 is a valuable newsletter for writers. From writing resources to contest notices to submission alerts to residency information, this is one of the most useful tools in my writing toolbox. Thank you, Erika Dreifus.”—David Gutowski.
  • “The single best resource I’ve seen for submission opportunities – with no fees. Erika Dreifus, The Practicing Writer Substacker, generously puts this free newsletter together each month.”—Christine Sneed.
  • Like having a professional writer in the family.”The Sub Club’s “Best Submission Resources for Writers.
  • And endorsements from Emily Stoddard, who generously included the newsletter as a recommended resource in an article for Writer’s Digest, and Zina Gomez-Liss, who did the same in rounding up “10 Substacks to Try.”

Still under wraps: I’ve also been engaged with a couple of projects that friends and I have begun cooking up (too early to say more about any of this). But it’s truly too early to say anything more about any of that.

That’s just about all, folks! Until next time!

a notepad and a couple of pens.

2 thoughts on “Occasional Notes from a Practicing Writer

  1. Congratulations on all this great news!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      So kind of you, Steph. Thank you!

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