Saturday, May 3, 2014

Grants to Support a Woman Writer

Would-be writers are always looking for grants to not merely augment their income, but replace it entirely.  "How am I supposed to write, if I have to go to work?" they ask.  Good question.  However, the few grants available to support writers are not at all no-strings attached.  They have plenty of strings, with an eye towards funding a piece of literary art at the end of the grant period.  They aren't funding your fantasy, they are contracting you for work.

A good example are grants through the foundation A Room of Her Own Foundation, named for the famous essay by Virginia Woolf which argues that women need a room of one's own to flourish as artists.  With an eye to creating such a financial room for women writers, the foundation funds a big $50,000 grant aptly called the Gift of Freedom, which covers a woman's expenses while she works on a book for two years.  But it's not free form: you have to submit a plan to create your book, and your recent finances are scrutinized to weigh you ability to live within the funding and create a book. 

Likewise, the $10,000 Shakespeare's Sister fellowship is designed to help support a woman playwright start and compose an original play (not remake an old one), while working at various retreats.  Again, the writer has to have a completed a play already and thereby establish that they are capable of working on and completing a work in one year. 

The other literary grants they provide, To the Lighthouse and Clarissa Dalloway book prizes, and the Orlando prizes, are for smaller amounts of money and the publication of unpublished works.  They aren't sized to subsidize your life.  As a result, you aren't scrutinized to see if you can produce a work.  Remember that for every great amount, there are great strings.  It's not evil, it's common sense.

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