Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Taking Stock: What Could Be Better (Jewish Edition)

In Judaism, New Orleans on September 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm

In my previous taking stock post, I wrote about what I like in the New Orleans Jewish community. Now, I’ll post some of the things I think could be better (and that I will hopefully work on in the future).

-My Spiritual Life

I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I am a convert. I converted at a Reform synagogue. The only synagogue I feel comfortable in is a Conservative synagogue. Where do I fit in?

I would like a synagogue that has a more musical tradition. I would like a synagogue where gender norms aren’t so strictly followed. However, I’m not going to find the music or gender deviants I want in New Orleans. New Orleans is very Southern, and the ways in which it assimilated with the culture at large are very different from the variants I found in Tampa. Somehow, I’m going to have to find a way to feel comfortable with what I’ve found here.

-Rosh Chodesh Group

I would like to join a Rosh Chodesh group, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable in an Orthodox setting, so New Orleans’s Rosh Chodesh group is probably not a great fit for me. This is where I really feel I can work on the community; I would like to start one. I just need to find a group of (probably exclusively) women who would like to join and figure out other logistics, like where we’re going to meet and what the meetings will look like.

-Jewish Learning

I am hungry for more Jewish learning opportunities. I want to understand what’s going on in Jewish texts, learn how to read Hebrew, and attend classes based around Jewish issues and themes I’m interested in. There are some learning opportunities here, but I would like to see them grow. I have less confidence in my ability to start a group, because I don’t feel like I have enough expertise to run one, and so far I haven’t found many other people willing to give up their time and energy to teach or participate in the classes.

Writer Beware

In The Writing Life on September 5, 2011 at 10:47 pm

An old friend from high school recently posted about a new book deal he’s gotten himself into. In his post, which was on FB, he admitted that he was also looking for an editor; the publishing company wants for him to pay for editing and all “perks” himself. To me, this sounds like a vanity publisher.

I do admit that this old friend is a born-again Christian, and there is a good chance that his publisher is a Christian publisher. I don’t know much about the Christian publishing industry, though I do read a few blogs published by people in Christian publishing.

I would ask my old friend more, but he’s gotten on the defensive. He won’t say which company will be publishing his book; he just says that it’s a “sister company” of a “large publishing company.” They want to “make sure his book will sell before they invest real money into it.”

While I can’t say whether or not his publishing company is legit, I can say that it is important for a writer, especially in an age of scams concocted through the ease of the internet, to educate herself about common practices in the industry. One of my favorite websites for doing this is Writer Beware. It is hosted by the SFWA, and it has provided priceless advice to me over the years. I subscribe to the blog. It is all free and readily available to anyone with an internet connection. I advise all writers, especially new writers, to become well acquainted with it.