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Red Fish Studio: editing/coaching

Jennifer Berman

RED FISH STUDIO: editing & coaching 


In the 1990s, when I was naming my coaching and editing business, I toyed with long, involved, historic and tricky names. Then on the streets of Chicago I saw a flier for a play entitled after the Dr. Suess book, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and seized upon Red Fish as the perfect name. It was cheerful and fanciful.


My experience comes from teaching nonfiction and fiction writing as well as journalism for decades, at Northwestern University, where I co-directed the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program for a decade and picked up a teaching award (it did have my name on it); at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; DePaul University; Western Michigan University; the University of Alabama, where I was Coal Royalty Chair of Creative Writing; and the University of Chicago Graham School. I've lectured and presented my work at Brown, Purdue, Minnesota State and other universities, and Lafayette, Ripon, and other colleges. 


I mostly work one-on-one with writers at any stage of their work. I've edited novel drafts, helped people figure out what they want to write short essays about. I start wherever the writer is and ask them what they want and need. I work with people in Chicago and beyond.






Sandi's voice beckoned me first from the first paragraph of her Tribune op-ed about being a breast cancer survivor. I read her book, The Adventures of Cancer Bitch, and wished I could write like that, with such raw candor and humor. She accepted me as a student with the caveat that it was going to be a lot of work, and patiently taught me how to fix dialogue, go inside characters, remove flotsam. She gave me a personalized course in how to write a novel and get it published, and I consider S.L. Wisenberg as both a friend and a one-woman provider of graduate writing education. I'm now tackling my third novel and can't imagine doing it without her--so keep in mind that her time is limited!     --G.P. Gottlieb, The Whipped and Sipped Culinary Mystery Series


Sandi Wisenberg has an uncanny ability to size up each writer's needs and tailor a personalized plan to pursue individual goals. Sandi helped me break the habit of newspaper reporter concision and write more expansively. She took me under her wing. She mentored me around successful submissions to conferences at Bread Loaf and Sewanee. And she gave me the courage to write Blackbird Blues. When you work with Sandi, she's all in.           --Jean K. Carney



Sandi brought to our work together an incredibly focused mind and a fierce intelligence about writing and story telling, and she taught me how to truly elevate what I was putting on the page. There are no wasted words with her. She understands exactly what she is reading and what needs to happen next to make the writer, and the story, better. If you are fortunate enough to have her in your writing life, you have done well, indeed. She is the best. --Daniel P. Shapiro, The Thin Ledge



The wonderful writer S.L. Wisenberg read this manuscript with generosity and tremendous acuity and gave me the greatest gift a writer could ask--making my work look smarter for her efforts.    --E.J. Levy, Amazons: A Love Story



A lifelong academic, I began to realize my potential as a creative writer through my association with Sandi Wisenberg in a personal essay/memoir workshop she led some thirty years ago. During the intervening years I've had several more classes with her, always taking away valuable tips and resources. She came to my writing classes at the University of Chicago Lab School, teaching a method for writing memoirs that I and other colleagues used long after she left. In fall 2020 I took her fiction writing class at the University of Chicago Graham School and got the help I needed to pursue a new interest in flash fiction. For thirty years I've benefited from and been inspired by her knowledge, grace, and good humor. --Stephen Granzyk, poetry editor, Please See Me