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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.

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