We all know that creative writing isn't the most lucrative field in the world, but true writers are still driven by passion and talent to bring their voices to the world. We write after work, between diaper changes, between shifts. We take loans for MFA programs that we know might be impossible to pay back. We do our best to make it work and to share our unique vision....
...unless we can't. So many writers--especially women from under-represented populations--aren't able to afford quality, empathetic, graduate level creative writing mentorship and education. Ironically, these are the very writers whose voices our industry most needs: women of color, single mothers, lgbtq writers, women of small financial means.
These are the stories that need to be heard and the poems that need to be written, honed and published. But in the literary industry, who you know and where you've gone counts; most people who publish widely have done university masters programs or PhDs in writing. But the artists who would write the stories we so need to hear often can't afford to spend the money, time or energy on graduate writing programs, or they feel ostracized because higher education historically treats women in these positions (and their stories and poems and memoirs) with less dignity, vision and respect than other students.
The Women's Voices Mentorship Program (WVMP) was created specifically to address these problems. Mentors work one on one with writers to nourish, guide and hone their work, treating each student to a level of indivudal guidance and education many MFA programs can't match. We make targeted writing goals and plans with each student, give them readings and assignments, edit and work through each piece of writing, truly building toward a full body of work and publication with every session and every meeting.
As a mentor, published poet, university professor and literary citizen, I'm proud to help women achieve their writing goals. But even though our program costs far less than the price of a master's education in writing (with far more individual attention), I recognize that not all women can afford even our program's rates. So I decided to raise money to provide scholarships to three or four women writers this summer. I believe that as a mentor in the WVMP I can offer these poets and fiction writers something that they might not otherwise ever have: graduate level creative writing education that's focused specifically on their unique voices, goals and talents.
Which is, hopefully, where you come in.
The cost per scholarship is $3250 (plus GoFundMe fees.) If we can raise $9750 plus fees, we'll be able to provide writing mentorship to three talented women whose voices desperately need to be heard. $13,000 will allow us to fully fund four women writers. These scholarships will go to women who demonstrate excellent writing potential already, and they will all be women of color, single mothers or LGBTQ writers, as so often these are the communities that lack access to comprehensive education (in the arts and elsewhere!)
If we do not raise enough money to fully fund three scholarships, we'll fund as many full programs as possible and offer the rest as partial scholarships. If we meet our goal of three scholarships, we'll continue on to try to fund four women's mentorships.
Each mentorship session runs the length of a university quarter and provides a comprehensive apprenticeship and education. You can read more about the program and exactly what I do as a mentor here: http://www.womensvoicesmentorship.com
I truly hope you'll kick in even a few bucks to help bring these voices to the world. Any amount will help. Also, consider chipping in with friends to sponsor one woman's scholarship on your own! It's an amazing way to be a patron of the arts for someone who truly deserves it.