On Trying to Network as a Creative Writer

At the age of 24, I have not successfully acquired social skills. Perhaps it was natural that I’d end up in an MFA program: I can write poems, and I can write personal essays. But I often cannot hold casual conversations with new people without a noticeable degree of nervousness. In turn, this makes networking a difficult task, although it’s arguable as to how networking is defined for writers.

I first turned to writing conferences and residencies as a way to be productive in the summer before graduate school, when I had just graduated college. I didn’t initially see them as a way to network. Instead, I saw them as a means to keep myself writing. And I wanted to keep writing without going broke. Since that summer, I’ve continued to apply for and attend conferences and residences that offer funding.

After attending a number of these writing opportunities, I learned that I didn’t need to know how to network with a capital N. I didn’t need to substitute an awkward demeanor for charisma in order to meet people who validated my writing. People who I could care about and respect as writers, poets, and as my friends. I met trusted readers of my work, and I met people who wanted to see me grow. And for me, meeting such individuals is enough to constitute as networking.

In terms of networking with a capital N, I may never be successful. But I’ve shared my work in workshops and given readings. I’ve studied with acclaimed writers and poets, and I’ve met talented writers and poets in various stages of their careers. For me, it’s enough that there’s people out there who read my work and remember it. Maybe I lucked out. But I realized that maybe networking didn’t just entail having the allure and the persona and the energy and the charm that I just didn’t have, and possibly never will. What I’ve learned from attending writing conferences and residencies is that I may not always be able to hold conversations with strangers effectively, but I can meet people who like my work, and whose work I also appreciate. And with time, I can open up to them and make connections as well.

Below you’ll find a list of funded writing workshops and residencies, some of which I’ve attended, most of which I dream of attending. I hope this list finds you well, and that you enjoy your experiences as much as I have.

WRITING RESIDENCES & CONFERENCES THAT OFFER FUNDING

RESIDENCIES & RETREATS

Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts: Each resident receives free housing, studio space, and a $100 weekly stipend. Residencies vary from 2-8 weeks at the KHN Center in Nebraska City.

Website: http://www.khncenterforthearts.org/residency.php

New Orleans Writers’ Residency: The four week writing retreat is hosted in the culturally rich neighborhood of New Marigny, which is located close to the French Quarter. The residency covers free lodging, the cost of airfare up to $500, and a stipend of $200 per week.

Website: https://www.neworleanswritersresidency.org/

Jack Jones Literary Arts Writing Retreat: A two-week writing retreat in Taos, New Mexico open exclusively to women of color who are working on book projects. Students who are currently enrolled in a degree program are not eligible for a residency. They offer fifteen fully-funded scholarship opportunities, travel stipends and admissions fee reimbursements.

Website: http://www.jackjonesliteraryarts.com/the-retreat/

Hub City Writers House Residency: Offered at a historic cottage in Spartanburg, South Carolina, this residency is open to emerging writers in the United States who have completed a degree (BA, BFA, MA, MFA, PhD) in creative writing within the past five years or are pursuing a graduate degree (MFA, MA, or PhD) in writing. Residents receive lodging, utilities, and a stipend of $150 a week. In addition, residencies involve 15 weeks of community service with the Hub City Writers Project.

Website: https://hubcity.org/programs/residencies/

UCross Foundation: Provides 2-6 week residencies that include living accommodations, food, and individual workspace on a 20,000 acre cattle ranch in Wyoming, free of charge.

Website: http://www.ucrossfoundation.org/residency-program/

Mall of America Writer-In-Residence: Located in Bloomington, Minnesota, this five day residency is given to a writer who will have the chance to be deeply immersed in the Mall environment. The winning writer receives a free hotel stay, a $400 gift card, and a generous honorarium.

Website: https://www.mallofamerica.com/events/feature/writer-in-residence

MacDowell Colony: There are no residency fees at MacDowell, the nation’s leading artist colony. Meals and accommodations are provided. It is located in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Website: http://www.macdowellcolony.org/

Wildacres Retreat: A free residency located in Little Switzerland, North Carolina that provides writers the opportunity to produce work while staying in comfortable cabins.

Website: http://www.wildacres.org/workshops/residency.html

Blue Mountain Center: Free four week residencies in Blue Mountain Lake, New York open to creative and nonfiction writers, activists, and artists of all disciplines.

Website: http://www.bluemountaincenter.org/

Omi International Arts Center: Residents are provided with lodging and meals at this no-cost residency located on 300 acres of land in upstate New York.

Website: http://www.artomi.org/program.php?Writers-OMI-4

Artcroft: Four-week residencies on a working farm in Kentucky with lodging provided. Residents are expected to help with cooking and performing chores around the ranch.

Website: http://www.artcroft.org/site/residency-program/

The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow: This colony in Arkansas hosts residencies ranging from one week to three months. Accepted applicants will receive a subsidized general residency or a fully-funded fellowship.

Website: https://www.writerscolony.org/

Millay Colony for the Arts: The artist’s colony in upstate New York offers two-week and month-long residencies. There are no costs, and food is included.

Website: http://www.millaycolony.org/programs/the-residency-experience/

WRITING CONFERENCES

Indiana University Writers’ Conference: Held at Indiana University’s campus in Bloomington, Indiana, the IUWC offers several scholarships for their writing workshops and classes.

Website: http://www.iuwc.indiana.edu/

Wesleyan Writers Conference: There are some scholarships that provide full tuition, room, and board, but most awards are smaller scholarships that partially cover the cost of tuition. There are competitive teaching fellowships awarded to applicants who have completed book-length manuscripts.

Website: http://www.wesleyan.edu/writing/conference/scholarship.html

Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown: Located in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Fine Arts Work Center offers several scholarships for their Summer Program, which includes nearly 90 weeklong workshops in creative writing and visual arts. There are full tuition scholarships, including some that cover the cost of housing.

Website: http://web.fawc.org/summer-program-overview

Sewanee Writers’ Conference: Fellows and scholars are offered funding to help offset the costs of tuition, room, and board.

Website: http://sewaneewriters.org/conference/

Juniper Summer Writing Institute: Scholarships and grants are available to fund costs for the program in Amherst, Massachusetts, which includes readings, craft seminars, manuscript consultations, and workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Website: https://www.umass.edu/juniperinstitute/

New York State Summer Writers Institute: Held on the campus of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, the Institute offers merit scholarships to cover the cost of tuition.

Website: https://www.skidmore.edu/summerwriters/

Tin House Writer’s Workshop: There are scholarships offered for the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop and the Tin House Winter Writer’s Workshop. There are tuition scholarships offered.

Website: http://www.tinhouse.com/blog/workshop-applying

Stockton University Winter Getaway: There are scholarships offered for the writers’ conference held at the historic Seaview Resort near Atlantic City. There are other writing retreats and workshops offered at different locations during various times of the year.

Website: http://wintergetaway.com/

Frost Place Conference on Poetry: There are scholarships available to cover the cost of tuition and housing for the conference near Robert Frost’s homestead in Franconia, New Hampshire.

Website: http://frostplace.org/programs/conference-on-poetry/

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference: There is financial aid in the form of scholarships and fellowships for the conference held at Ripton, Vermont that offers workshops in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

Website: http://www.middlebury.edu/bread-loaf-conferences

Community of Writers at Squaw Valley: A limited amount of financial aid is available in the form of tuition waivers and scholarships to attend the writing workshops in Squaw Valley, California.

Website: https://communityofwriters.org/workshops/writers-workshops/

References

The Write Life: https://thewritelife.com/writing-residencies/

Poets & Writers: https://www.pw.org/conferences_and_residencies?field_event_type_1_value=All&field_state_value=All&field_free_admission_value=yes&sort_by=title&sort_order=ASC&items_per_page=25

Residency Unlimited: http://residencyunlimited.org/


Anuradha Bhowmik is a Bangladeshi-American poet and writer from South Jersey. She is an MFA candidate at Virginia Tech and the poetry editor for the minnesota review. She is a Pushcart nominee and has received scholarships from the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Frost Place, the Indiana University Writers’ Conference, and the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Her poetry and prose are forthcoming or have appeared in Nashville Review, Indiana Review, Bayou Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Slice Magazine, Zone 3, The Normal School, Copper Nickel, Ninth Letter Online, and elsewhere. Anuradha can be found at www.anuradhabhowmik.com.

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