McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: List: Lesser-Known Writing Fellowships.
The Kidney Infection Grant
To access this competitive grant, you must first acquire a urinary tract infection. Then, instead of heading directly to urgent care, convince yourself you can fight it off by drinking cranberry juice. When the bacteria travel to your kidneys, fever and uncontrollable shaking will compel your spouse to assume all parenting duties. Two days recuperating beneath an electric blanket will provide you with the time and space to re-imagine the structure of your novel. Additional perks: fever dreams, seven-day supply of Zithromax.
Night at The Purple House: A Residency
The Purple House is the size of an elf’s garden shed, dusted with a fine patina of sand, and strewn with toy saucepans and plastic food. To gain admittance to this creative retreat, bribe your preschooler with four chocolate chips. While your family sleeps, tiptoe into the backyard and duck through the Purple House’s door frame. Balance a notebook on your kneecaps and scrawl the lines of dialog exchanged by rapping marzipan trout from your fever dream. Pro tip: When raccoons forage through the nearby compost bin, resist the urge to confront them. Armed though you may be with your daughter’s plastic sword and shield, you must recognize the raccoons for what they are: a distraction.
The Early Bird Fellowship
This fellowship is available only to writers who also serve as adjunct English instructors. To apply, simply schedule your office hours at 6:00 am on a Friday morning. Voila! You’ve just won a disruption-free block of writing time. Early Bird Fellows enjoy use of a dusty basement office with a vintage green-screen computer that rumbles plaintively through its forty-five minute start-up time. The office will be inexplicably filled with crushed leaves and boxes of books belonging to an adjunct instructor who died five years ago. As you wait for the computer to boot up, look through the dead professor’s books, and wonder: is his ghost trapped in the machine? Your thrumming sense of dread will lend an eerie verisimilitude to any Gothic elements of your magnum opus.
The Cypress Fitness Fellowship
To qualify, you must first get so depressed that you do something desperate, something drastic: you must join a gym. Drop your children at the onsite Kiddie Korner and attempt to acquire endorphins via elliptical machine. Lose motivation when you recognize that seeing Trump’s face on five out of seven gym TV screens drains your system of serotonin at a faster rate than cardio restores it. Repair to the locker room and sit on a damp corner of industrial carpet. Realize that if you hid in the handicapped bathroom stall with your notebook, the gym’s Kiddie Korner caregivers would probably just assume you were in the sauna. Congrats! You’ve secured the time and space to make progress on your novel. The humidity, scent of chlorine, and sound of geriatric women stripping off their bathing suits will create an environment as fertile for your creativity as the shower tiles are for foot fungus.
Brookdale Psychiatric Center Residency
Exercise didn’t stave off your depression? No worries! If you’ve got decent insurance, you qualify for a stay at this soothing countryside retreat. At Brookdale, you won’t have to deal with annoying distractions like belts, shoelaces, or personal autonomy. After a busy day of writing and weeping, hang out in the TV room or relax with a game of ping-pong. At other art colonies, your dining companions may steal your anecdotes for their craft. Not so here! The folks on your left and right are way too heavily medicated to appropriate the story of how you lost your virginity into a book-length tone poem. Onsite electro-convulsive therapy may cloud your memory, but this just increases your right to “creative license” when penning a searing memoir about your stay.
Chase Bank Emerging Artist’s Grant
Roses are red/ Violets are blue / This is a robbery / Put the money in the bag. A poem this simple functions as your application to this unique grant. Since you’re a writer, you probably already dress in all black. Just buy a matching ski mask, walk into your local branch, and hand your application to the sweet-faced teller. The cash she shoves over the counter will enable you to eek out your opus as you enjoy life on the run. Soon, you’ll be lying on a bare mattress in a budget motel, feasting on french fries from a grease-stained paper bag, dreaming up the perfect symbol for our fractured, postmodern world. A lonely whale? Yes. Definitely.
Leavenworth Penitentiary Residency
Congratulations! You’ll enjoy this $20,000/year taxpayer-funded residency for the rest of your natural life. At Yaddo, a picnic basket lunch is left on your porch so that hunger pangs don’t disrupt your creative flow. But if you qualify for solitary at Leavenworth, a full three meals a day will be slipped under your door. Without human contact or natural light to distract you, nothing stands between you and the page. If the clanging and hissing feel disruptive, simply stuff toilet paper in your ears. Get out your golf pencil, and absorb yourself in that multi-volume epic. There’s no rush. You’ve got nothing but time.