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Final Verdict: I got my scholarship to Humber

Posted by E on June 23, 2008

I’m starting to realize that to be a writer, you can’t write in a vacuum. Even if you have a moral and financial objection to being pitted against other writers in subjective contests that cost an arm and a leg to enter.
To be honest, I haven’t submitted anything to any mag/rag/poetry zine in years. Other than self-publishing my poetry book last year (see it on Amazon), the last time I got published was 6 years ago, when I had 3 pages of poetry appear in Grain Magazine. Why? Partly laziness, partly not enough thick skin to handle the rejection letters, partly lack of funds. When you send out even a few contest entries per year, the cost of entry fees is prohibitive. When you add to this the overwhelming chance of rejection due to editorial subjectivity, you may as well flush the money down the toilet or pay the idiot tax (aka play the lotto).

But when I make up my mind about something, I go for it with a calculated, psychopathic precision and intensity: I live and breathe the carrot in front of me; I sniff it like a hound dog, tracking its scent until it overwhelms my senses, shadowing everything else.

The goal this year: go to the Humber School for Writers’ Summer Workshop. It’s said to be the best program of its kind in the country, and you have the chance to be mentored by some of the most famous and popular Canadian writers of our time. It’s not a cheap course either; at $1000 for six days of instruction, I doubt any talented young people can get to go unless their fees are seriously subsidized.

I imagine that many of the attendants are either retired or wine-sipping middle-aged novice writers who are still plugging away at their daytime professions, likely something safe but still distinguished, say, middle-management perhaps. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Somebody has to pay the writers for their time. But the point is, I’ve had a hard time envisaging how a full-time writer, especially a younger person with student loans and a lower income can afford such exorbitant fees. Unless mommy and daddy pay for it. So I do feel for everyone who also applied to get a scholarship but didn’t get it.

So here’s my update.
The goal: get into Humber by any means necessary.
The means: (twofold)

1) submit a manuscript “portfolio” to Humber directly, and request financial aid/a scholarship (which is evaluated based on a combination of need and talent, and awarded to those who show “considerable promise”)

2) enter the CLGA essay contest, where a full scholarship to Humber would be given to a selected entry

1. The manuscript took me two and a half weeks to pull together (write and edit it to my satisfaction, which is still not what I would call “finished” by any means), and I had to Xpress Post it to Humber to get it just under the deadline
2. The short piece (2500 words) I submitted to the CLGA contest was written in one night. Not bad, for a piece that attracted the editor’s attention (we spoke the day the story was received) and ended up on a shortlist for the scholarship.

The outcome: I got my scholarship!!!!! from the Humber School for Writers directly! So I’ll be going the week of July 12-18.

I will be staying in residence for the week, so if anyone can contribute to the $300 room&board fee, it would be so much appreciated! You can feel good knowing that a future literary figure is forever indebted to you – and if you can spot me at least a portion of the fee, I PROMISE you to send you an autographed, FREE copy of my book when it is eventually published. And every cell, pore and fiber of my being tells me that it will be published.

When I am this certain of something, it always comes to fruition. The opportunity to attend a program I never could have afforded, and the determination to write a brilliant story in a span of a few hours, is proof of this. Remember, anything is possible if you have the burning drive, the unwavering belief in your ability to transcend the universal fear of inadequacy, and the courage to listen to nothing but your own, original voice.

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Never.

The mornings will be spent with my mentor (I’m still not sure who it will be) and a small group of other students. The afternoons will have lectures from other famous writers, publishers and agents. I can’t wait to meet other writers and students and make some connections with fellow brilliant minds 🙂

I’ll try to log in (if I can pick up wireless in residence) and write a few journal entries during the week to let everyone how the course is progressing.

3 Responses to “Final Verdict: I got my scholarship to Humber”

  1. Bella said

    Hi Elisa, and congrats! I’m thinking of going to Humber as well, but I’ll be saving up for next year’s summer workshop. Please do tell how it goes, since it will help me in making up my mind about spending that kind of money to go.

    But ya, I can’t wait to hear more! Good luck with everything. PS I also liked that blog entry about ink in water that you wrote a little while ago, it was so poetic.

  2. M.R. said

    … guess what? I work at a completely lame job as an Editor of Corp. Comm. at a legal firm. A small legal firm. Trying to expand to do social media optimization (marketing). Serach for immigration, got directed to your blog. Scrolled to find the story, found out you’re going to the humber writers program.

    Congrats. I thought about applying this year… through the CLGA scholarship. “Of all the blogs in all the world” sort of situation. Just had to comment. Congrats.

  3. Elisa said

    What a small world, MR! I’m very glad you stumbled on my blog like this…Did you end up submitting something after all through the CLGA?
    I plan to write about the Humber week as it goes along, and I’ll be sure to tell everyone whether it was worth the money. Personally, I do think it’ll be a neat experience and I’m going to be happy that I went.
    But I still think that you should apply next year – I got my scholarship directly from Humber, so you don’t have to worry about contests, etc, in order to get a financial waver. I mean, it helps, and if I knew about it in advance, I would have also applied to the Toronto Star contest, but I found out too late about it – apparently they gave someone a full scholarship this year, and they do this annually.

    But Humber *does* want some proof of financial hardship, so I suppose if that lame job of yours does pay well :), they may say no. But you should still try to apply – why not, right?…and you never know, you might just get a scholarship – there’s about 3 or 4 of them, I think, that are open to all candidates regardless of age, ethnicity, etc.
    But if you ask me if it’s worth the full $950 – I’ll tell you at the end of next week!

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