Jane Friedman

Class of 1998, BFA in Creative Writing

Jane Friedman

What was your favorite part of studying Creative Writing at UE?

Aside from the professors themselves, I appreciated the freedom I was granted to choose classes and focus on the areas that I felt best matched my personal interests and professional goals. I never felt luckier than when I was able to take a 300-level Soviet Literature class while I was a freshman. It did require special permission from the faculty, but the environment encouraged me to take risks and experiment. Fortunately, I was up to the challenge.

What did you experience in UE’s CRW department that feels special/unique to our program?

I didn't realize it at the time (it was only after meeting graduates of other creative writing programs that it became clear), but UE's program and professors encouraged us to engage in the working world of writing and publishing—to get outside of the classroom environment and see what it meant to write, edit, and publish on our own. Market and business concerns were addressed straightforwardly and without shame; there was no shroud of mystery surrounding it.

What was your favorite Creative Writing class and why?

I can't possibly choose a favorite, but there was one that changed my thinking and writing practice most dramatically: Intro to Poetry with William Baer. As I think is well known now, he had very particular opinions about poetry and teaching it, but I had no idea what I was walking into. Had I known, I probably wouldn't have enrolled. But I am so thankful I did. It's probably the class where I produced my best work in all four years of the program, in such an amazingly short span of time. I think about that time in awe and wonderment—of what's possible when you're matched with the right teacher at the right time.

What are you up to now?

After about 15 years working in corporate and literary publishing, I'm now a full-time freelance writer and editor. I write and edit a paid subscription newsletter about the publishing industry, teach classes online and offline, speak at conferences, and do consulting and editing work for a range of clients. It can be hard to characterize what I do since my earnings probably fall into a dozen different buckets, but mostly it's writing driven.

Are you still writing? Have you published anything? Working on anything?

Always. My new book, The Business of Being a Writer, releases in March 2018 from University of Chicago Press. Apart from that professional and industry-driven writing, I'm also writing creative nonfiction. My most recent personal essay was published in Margaret McMullan's anthology, Every Father's Daughter, and I also had a piece in Drinking Diaries, a collection of essays about women's relationship with drinking. But I'm guilty of devoting most of my time to the professional writing that pays well. When you're your own boss, it can be hard to give yourself time and permission to do the lower-earning types of work!

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