Their site says to include "A statement of your own testifying to the appropriateness of the Fellowship to your situation. Be specific about the manuscript that possession of the Fellowship would allow you to complete, noting current progress and so forth."
and to include:
"1) the manuscript, with its evidence of literary skill and originality; (2) personal qualities -- devotion to the writer's craft, industry, and integrity; adaptability to the environment of a boarding school in a small town; and capacity for meeting and aiding Exeter students. Of these two criteria, the first is of greater importance."
Here's what I have:
Being a wife and mother was always my first joy, but after all these years, there’s little left to the job. My youngest two are college-shopping; the end is in sight. A late bloomer myself, it took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do with this next phase of my life.
For twenty-four years, I was able to write only in the minutes between the last child going down for a nap and the next one waking, in the car waiting to pick a child up from school, or in my folding chair at soccer practice, hand cramping from the cold. I filled journals, composition notebooks and finally, dozens of one-subject notebooks from Walmart. Eventually, I began to write a novel, mostly for my own amusement.
A few years ago, I quit my job as an operations manager for a small wholesale company to be available to drive my children to a better school. With newfound hours of freedom looming before me, I decided that this would be the perfect time to begin to take my writing seriously. My goal was to write something unexpected and thought provoking that I could feel pride in and that others would enjoy reading. After a full day spent driving nearly a hundred miles with the kids, cooking all of our meals from scratch, raising chickens, putting in a large vegetable garden and keeping our woodstove going, I would, once again, find myself trying to squeeze in some time to write.
I learned to make writing a priority, devoting a few hours to it each morning. In joining a writing group I was lucky enough to attract the attention of an author who helped me to view my story in a new light. She also made suggestions on reading materials that would help me to improve. I ordered dozens of books from our local library and bought more. I began reading every book I could on learning to write well. I found people much more knowledgeable than I to guide and teach me. Everything I learned, I applied to my novel. Recently, I formed an online novel writers’ group and found an amazing mentor.
At the beginning of August, I returned to the first chapter of my novel. Suddenly, all I’ve been studying solidified. Stilted dialogue became flowing conversation, flat characters sprung to life. I discovered the magic it was lacking. By applying my new knowledge to the remaining chapters and making a few changes to the overall story line, I feel certain that I will have created what I set out to create; an enjoyable story that causes the reader to stop and consider what they would do in similar circumstances.
However, our financial situation will not allow me to remain at home any longer. We’ll soon have three kids in college and my husband is only a few years from retirement. I need to find some employment to supplement our income. This will mean trying to write for a half hour before I leave for work in the morning, and then attempting to steal an hour or two after the house has settled down at night.
This Fellowship would mean the difference between working fulltime at a low-level job, and having the opportunity to devote myself to this new career. It’s been a lifetime since I had a full day to concentrate on my own interests. It’s hard to imagine having nine months to focus only on completing this novel and finding a publisher. My writing would shift from being a hobby to a career. Being paid to complete the project-at-hand, and being freed of some of my usual responsibilities, would allow me the time to give my manuscript the attention it deserves. Just being able to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” with, “Huh? Oh, I think they’re serving meatloaf and mashed potatoes.” would mean additional hours of time to write everyday.
My family is wonderfully supportive of my writing. They have all agreed to pick up the slack if I am found deserving of this award. The monetary award that accompanies it will easily cover my assumed wages. The Fellowship would allow me to claim a year to write, to be a writer, fulltime.
As a mother of five mostly grown children, I am able to easily talk with teens, and would relish the opportunity to discuss their writing with them. I understand their occasional lack of motivation, their need for more sleep than humanely possible and their fierce appetites for food and knowledge. Their energy and passion bring a fresh viewpoint to everything they do.
My inspiration for this novel comes from the nightly news and my own experiences as a foster parent and a child of foster parents. A number of years ago, there was a rash of reports in the news about young women leaving their newborns in churches, or couples attempting to trade their child for a car or money. It made me wonder; does the church cleaning lady, long desperate for a child, ever find an infant in the vestibule and take it home? Does anyone ever give up their car and take the child? What if the one who is given the child had grown up without their family? Would their experiences impel them to try to protect this child from a similar fate?
Life presents each of us with choices and throws various stumbling blocks in our path. The decisions we make, how they affect us and the people around us, makes our lives what they are. Based on our reactions to a given situation, our entire life can be turned upside down, or the event can just become a ripple in the overall scheme. That is the heart of my story; our choices and the effects they have.
I look forward to hearing from you.