Creativity in Motion Prize

This morning Mira’s List announced a tantalizing call for grant applications called “Creativity in Motion.”

I would love to apply for this award, but you have to be a US citizen, which I’m not.

If you are, and have an interesting creative process, check out this $40,000 Thatcher Hoffman Smith Prize:

Good luck!

[Photo: zabara_tango]

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Summer grant deadlines for writers (and an aside)

My favourite blogger Mira Bartok has posted a new list of fellowships, grants and prizes for writers: for lesbian writers, poets (gay, straight or otherwise), Romance-language writers, non-fiction specialists (like yours truly) and the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant that I won last year. Check out Mira’s List here. Tell her I sent you!

* * *

Barbara Deming (of the aforementioned Fund), a feminist and lesbian poet, writer, and civil rights activist founded the Money for Women Fund (that now carries her name) in 1975. She died  of cancer in 1984.

On her deathbed, Deming wrote a letter that the chair of her foundation now sends its fellows.

The letter moved me to tears when I read it. I plan to keep it forever, since it reminds me to honour those who went before me and to learn from their lives.

“May all be made whole,” wrote Deming. I love that.

Here’s the letter:

To so many of you:

I have loved my life so very much and I have loved you so very much and felt so blessed at the love you have given me. I love the work so many of us have been trying to do together and had looked forward to continuing this work but I just feel no more strength in me now and I want to die. I won’t lose you when I die and I won’t leave you when I die. Some of you I have especially loved and felt beloved by and I hope you know that even though I haven’t had the strength lately to reach out to you.

I love you. Hallowed be (may all be made whole), I want you to know, too, that I die happily.

Bobbie (Barbara) Deming

(Naples Community Hospital. Naples, Florida. July 21, 1984. 6:15 p.m.)

[Photo: philippe leroyer]

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Fellowship announcements for writers

Check out today’s posting on Mira’s List for writers’ fellowships and awards. Of particular interest: The Bard Fiction Prize, The Hodder Fellowships at Princeton, and the Guggenheim Fellowships.

Happy hunting!

[Photo: Valeriana Solaris]

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Internet resources for writers: publicity, grants, submitting


I’m not expert on this, but my friend Jill Murray ( is. She’s a Montreal author of young adult fiction, and is super-tech-savvy. She recently gave a talk on how to build a web presence through social networking, and posted her slides on her website. I found the advice there really good. Check it out here. You can find a link to Jill Murray’s website at the right margin as well.


If you could use some tips on grant writing, check out Mira’s List. It’s a great blog where Mira Bartok gathers and disseminates grant announcements. I’ve subscribed to her email list, and have received a grant as a result of a listing I found there. You can also get to Mira’s List via the link under Grants at the right margin.


Though she doesn’t update very often any more, Sarah Wagner Yost’s blog archives give some good ideas as to where to submit personal essays and travel writing. She recommends trying The Smart Set and Modern Love (NYT) for starters. She provides editors’ email addresses and submission guidelines.

[Photo: austinevan]

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For Love and Money

I’m always on the prowl for new grants, fellowships and residencies. Grant money allows me to buy office supplies, books, pay for postage, daycare and to travel. In past six years, for example, my research has taken me to Paris, Toulouse, rural Lorraine, Vilnius, Jerusalem, California, Ohio, and New York. A couple weeks ago, I learned that I won my second Canada Council grant (hurray!), so the research trip to Siberia is looking like more of a reality every day.

A few tips when looking for grant money:

Think topically. I received a lot of funding for my second book from Holocaust research institutes.

Think regionally. Every province and territory in Canada, just about every US state, and some cities have artist grants for residents.

Think about who you are. There are grants for young women, older women, LGBT individuals, people of colour, and so on. There might be one for you.

Don’t reject small grants. It all adds up. The research for my second book was funded primarily by small grants that laid the groundwork for bigger grants later. More recently, The Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund paid for a few months of daycare, so I could finish my manuscript.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Apply, apply, apply. The worst a granting agency can say is no.

Happy hunting!

Granting agencies that have supported my work include (Links to each appear at the margin under the heading “Grants and Fellowships”):

  • The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Studies
  • The Holocaust Educational Foundation
  • The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
  • Le Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec
  • The Canada Council for the Arts
  • The Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund
  • The Banff Centre for the Arts


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Four Things I Learned from my PhD Supervisor

I defended my PhD thesis at the University of Toronto in August of 2001, under the supervision of a renowned literary scholar and theorist. Linda Hutcheon has written about a dozen books, scores of articles, is respected by her peers, adored by students, and is one of the best examples of a successful writer-teacher you can find.

In the fall of 2000, I was in the fifth year of my doctorate, and there was no end in sight. Even though I was applying for jobs and postdocs, deep down I didn’t really believe I would ever finish my dissertation. Then, in January of 2001, I learned I had won a two-year postdoctoral fellowship, and had twelve weeks to submit a finished thesis, or lose the fellowship.

In those twelve weeks, I learned some of my most important lessons about writing. Four of these came from Linda.

1) It’s not supposed to be easy: One day I showed up at Linda’s door, out of breath and exhausted. “This is hard!” I complained, plopping myself down in a chair opposite her desk. “Julija,” she replied. “It’s a PhD. It’s not supposed to be easy.” Neither is writing books. And it’s worth doing, in part, because it is hard.

2) Enough is enough: The key to finishing my dissertation was to set limits. When I told Linda that I thought I would have to write a whole chapter on the concept of the “other,” she shook her head and told me no. This was beyond the scope of my dissertation, and would only throw me off track. Only once I accepted that there were things that had to fall by the wayside could I actually finish my dissertation. And only once I’d allowed the reality of the text I’d written to replace the fantasy of the text I’d dreamed of could I move on to the next thing.

3) It’s not supposed to be torture: During those twelve weeks of intense writing, I had to read a lot. Some of this was the kind of reading I love (manuscripts, novels), but some of it was reading I felt I had to do. One highly theoretical book defeated and frustrated me to the point of tears. In my next meeting with Linda, I confessed this, and promised to keep trying to work through the text until I got it. She looked at me with a grin, and said, “Julija, if a book makes you cry, put it down, and for goodness sake, read something else!” Writing isn’t supposed to be easy, but it should be rewarding and meaningful. I learned to steer myself in directions that fed me.

4) Onward!: Every time I finished a chapter of the dissertation, I would hand it off to Linda to read. After marking it up and offering suggestions throughout, she would write a single word on the bottom of the last page: “Onward!” The lesson I’ve kept from that word: don’t rest on your laurels, don’t get too self-contented, don’t stop for too long, always look forward and think about what comes next.

[Photo by mlahtinen]

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