María Isabel Alvarez

Hedgebrook Writers Residency

It’s truly an enormous privilege to have been selected for a 2017 Hedgebrook residency. I’ll be heading to Whidbey Island in August for a sprawling three weeks!

I remember applying in 2015 the day the application was due and not being entirely surprised when I wasn’t selected a few months later. For the subsequent cycle, I took the application much more seriously, reviewing my answers to each question as if they were mini essays and not relying solely on my own two eyes when revising the work. My husband was instrumental in helping me shape my answers so that each stood solidly on its own. It helps that he’s a poet.

While I am not affiliated with Hedgebrook and have never served on a judging committee, I’ve gathered a few tips that might help fellow emerging women writers interested in applying to Hedgebrook:

  1. Begin by researching Hedgebrook, its history, its core values, and seeing if it is a good fit for your writerly goals. Hedgebrook stresses the importance of “Equal Voice,” the idea of supporting marginalized women writers by providing them with resources, mentorships, connections, and other writing-related opportunities to help expand their work and their presence. If this fits with your writerly convictions, then Hedgebrook might be the perfect fit for you.
  2. Reach out to former Hedgebrook residents and ask for general tips and advice for answering the prompt questions. Email two or three individuals so you receive a range of answers. In my experience, writers are always happy to help other writers, especially if they were once in the same position.
  3. Include concrete examples in each of your answers. Be as specific as possible. Don’t say you need time and space to write–that much is inferred. Instead, think about how your everyday writerly life has prepared you for this experience. Mention readings you’ve attended or books you have read by former Hedgebrook residents or literary memberships in which you are involved. Make the judges see that you are engaged with the literary community and consistently seeking opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. This gives your application weight and will paint you as the kind of writer who takes her craft seriously.
  4. Don’t wait until the last minute. Submit at the latest a week before the deadline. Rushing to hit submit at 11:59 PM is likely to result in typos and other issues.  Researching Hedgebrook, asking advice, and seeking a second pair of eyes to look over your work takes time, so plan accordingly.
  5. Lastly, don’t be discouraged if you are not selected. I applied to Hedgebrook once before and it wasn’t until a year had passed that I was able to recognize just how underdeveloped my answers had been. In prioritizing the application weeks in advance, I was able to throughly consider each question, which in turn helped me to convey my ideas more concretely. Don’t let rejection deter you from applying. Every day we grow as writers. Everything we read, everything we write, every person with whom we speak about literature helps shape us into more thoughtful writers.
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Building Up to Emerging: Tips for Applying to Fellowships, Residencies and Workshops

Women Who Submit

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

The first time I applied for a fellowship was in spring 2009. I was about to finish grad school, and I sent out a slew of applications like I was applying for a PhD. I figured it was the next logical step as I readied myself to move beyond my MFA program, and I had the mentors close by to help. I gathered transcripts and letters of recommendation, curated samples of work and wrote project proposals. I remember one mentor agreed to write a letter with what I perceived as little enthusiasm. When all the rejections came in that summer, I read the bios of those who won and took notice of all their previous awards and accolades. I thought back to that mentor and considered her lackluster support the response of someone who understood the literary world better than I did at that time.

See what…

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