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Writing/Reading Resources

Writing/Reading Resources

3 Reasons Why You (Yes YOU), Should Apply for the Emerging Writer Fellowship

Eson Kim's photo

By Eson Kim

Instructor Consultant Staff


The deadline to apply for GrubStreet’s 2024-2025 Emerging Writer Fellowship is fast approaching on March 11, 2024 at 11:59pm (EST). Eson Kim, GrubStreet’s Director of Community Engagement, explains why you (yes YOU) should apply today (yes TODAY).

All too often, writers get stuck on the same question: “Should I apply for this writing opportunity?” Grab your favorite beverage, find a comfy writing spot, and get ready for a decade of yes! If you’re still tentative, here are three reasons to forge ahead.

1. There’s Always Something to Gain

Receiving a fellowship comes with great opportunities, but you also gain knowledge and experience every time you apply to a writing fellowship, contest, or award. You’ll start noticing patterns in applications and in your own work. Then you’ll better anticipate application requirements and refine your portfolio. Like most things, steady practice often improves chances of future success. So apply to this and other opportunities regularly.

2. Why Not You?

Beyond the quality of work, there are human factors that come into play when assessing application submissions, like judges’ tastes and style preferences. You can’t know in advance what each reviewer’s tastes will be. One of them might love your application materials, but you’ll never know if you don’t apply. So the key is to send in your work and give it a chance to be seen by the right reader.

3. It Sucks to Live in the Prison of Maybe

The Prison of Maybe is an emotional deadzone where writers get stuck in a paralyzing state of doubt. Maybe I’m not ready for this. Maybe I’ll be the worst applicant. Maybe my writing isn’t good enough. Maybe this fellowship is for writers who’ve taken formal writing classes already. Maybe I’m too behind, too inexperienced, too old... Maybe I won’t win anyway. Maybe next year. Usually this state of anxiety, indecision, and inaction is caused by a lack of past encouragement, time, or resources to invest in our writing. GrubStreet’s Emerging Writer Fellowship was created to work against these setbacks. It’s hard to break out of the Prison of Maybe. But you can do it! Be the hero of your own story and make this application process your writing quest!

But don't just take our word for it! Hear from our three 2021 fellows about their experience:

I was never a motivated or enthusiastic writer. Then boom, a global pandemic throws me back into poetry — but when I had to return to the world to find work and finish school, I knew it would be hard to maintain a writing practice. This fellowship allowed me to schedule a whole year of staying engaged intensively with the craft I had fallen back in love with.

— J.C. Rodriguez

Before the GrubStreet Emerging Writer Fellowship, I was a bit of a literary loner. I was the only writer among peers and had no formal background in writing. GrubStreet planted that seed of confidence in me. I was intimidated at first — as an Asian writer based outside the US — but the learning environment helped me flourish in ways that surprised me. Now, as an active member and organizer of several writing communities, I’m grateful to GrubStreet for my breakthrough.

— Andy Lopez

I was in a place where I needed to find a community for my writing. I had just moved from Pittsburgh right before the pandemic. Applying for the GrubStreet Emerging Writer Fellowship saved me. I never apply for anything thinking I'll get it. But I also know it never hurts to apply for opportunities, especially when such require no application fee. The fellowship gave me access to a new community of readers and writers. I received great feedback on my work-in-progress and I got to work with a brilliant mentor and past cohorts of the fellowship. If you're thinking of applying, just do it. GrubStreet wants you to succeed as an emerging writer and will always be there to make your fellowship experience a great one.

— Tochukwu Okafor

This blog post was originally published on February 6th, 2021.

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