Information Overwhelm

December 15, 2022 § 47 Comments

By Jennifer Lang


Dear Comrades,

Every day, from the second I open my eyes (and turn on my phone) to the second I crawl into bed (and turn off my phone), I scroll through dozens of writing-related emails:

  • weekly newsletters from Hope Clark’s FundsforWriters + Writer’s Relief, both of which I signed up for years ago;
  • occasional newsletters from Kathy Fish’s The Art of Flash Fiction (with whom I took a few flash intensives online) + Jackie Bluu’s The Writer’s Den (where I submitted a story for an anthology);
  • less frequent but still present ones from The Loft Literary Center (where I taught memoir classes online) + The HerStories Project (which published “Sleep Like a Midlife Woman” in The Pandemic Midlife Crisis Gen X Women on the Brink anthology).

But that’s not all. There are also breaking news and blog posts from:

  • Association of Writers and Writing Programs or AWP (which I joined after my MFA and am finally attending in Seattle this March);
  • Poets & Writers (which I also joined post-MFA);
  • Author’s Guild (which I joined while shopping around my memoir manuscript);
  • Jane Friedman’s blog (where I took one online workshop) + The Writers Grotto (where I took a class during a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area) + Brevity blog (duh);
  • Literary Hub (which shares writing tips and historical tidbits);
  • Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (which provides indie lit updates);
  • Winning Writers (where I entered a contest once) + Women on Writing (ditto);
  • Creative Nonfiction (where I dream of seeing my name) + Narratively (where my dreams will never come true);
  • Tammy Delatorre (who began offering regular write-ins on zoom long before Covid) + George Saunders from Story Club (who is very verbose);
  • Forge NYC (where I applied to a fellowship a few years ago) and Lilith the New 40 (ditto) and Tablet Magazine (you get the gist).

Then there’s Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day +’s Word of the Day, both brief and befitting to get my writing muscles moving before sitting in my chair.

Add to those the literary journals on my radar:

  • Hippocampus (which published “Gas Masks and Wedding Vows” in 2016 and has subsequently declined everything from flash to book manuscript submission);
  • San Fedele Press (which published “Of Zero Chroma” in their Art in the Time of Covid 19 anthology);
  • The Masters Review;
  • The Kenyon Review;
  • New England Review;
  • CRAFT;
  • The Commuter;
  • Ephemera;
  • Mslexia;
  • Room;
  • Solstice Literary Magazine;
  • So and So from Oldster Magazine;
  • Split-Lip;
  • [PANK].

There are the ones to which I subscribed while hunting for a publisher:

  • Coffee House Press;
  • WTAW Press;
  • ugly duckling press;
  • Hachette Book Group;
  • Open Books Press;
  • Catapult, Counterpoint, Soft Skull;
  • Black Lawrence Press;
  • Koehler Books;
  • Cune Press;
  • Claret Press;
  • Jewish Book Council;
  • Jewish Book Week.

And, of course, the Covid connected sit-ins and write-togethers with:

  • Marcia Meier’s Writing through the Apocalypse (which I attended once at the start of the first lockdown);
  • Writers Near & Far (which I co-created during that same trying timeframe);
  • Allison K. Williams and Ashleigh Renard’s Writers’ Bridge (which I attended once when the world was quiet but never again because I teach yoga on zoom at the same hour on the same day);
  • Suleika Jaouad’s The Isolation Journals (which I read to make sure she is okay, which she’s not).

Recently, I joined Revel, a hybrid community for women 40+, where I offer bimonthly Sunday Deep Dive sessions and receive a surplus of reminders (your class is full) and alerts (do you want to increase the number of participants?).

Plus retreats in exotic faraway lands that lure me like:

  • Julie Maloney in Greece;
  • Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish in Costa Rica;
  • Dinty W. Moore and Allison K. Williams in Italy, Portugal, and Costa Rica;
  • Diana Friedman in the Pyrenees;
  • Authors At Large in different locations every year.

And there’s no way to ignore my alma mater—Vermont College of Fine Arts—which caused a big brouhaha about relocating their summer residencies to Colorado and replacing their in-person winter ones with zoom.

Keep in mind that none of this has anything to do with social media.

Everyone, everywhere has so much to say about the people and the books they wrote/read, the craft and the business they run/recommend. All. The. Time.

Unable to keep up, I’ve been deleting them before opening them as if they were ticking time bombs.

But here’s what I want to know: is it just me? Or do you also feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of information in your inbox?


Paralyzed Writer


Jennifer Lang, born in the San Francisco Bay Area, now lives in Tel Aviv, where she runs Israel Writers Studio. Her essays have appeared in the Baltimore Review, Crab Orchard Review, Under the Sun, Ascent, Consequence, and elsewhere. Places We Left Behind: a memoir-in-shorts and Landed: a yogi’s memoir in pieces & poses will both be published by Vine Leaves Press (September 2023 and October 2024). A Pushcart Prize and Best American Essays nominee, she holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and serve as Assistant Editor for Brevity.  

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