Retreat Scholarship Prompt and Rules: Fall in the High Desert

By Amy Robinson and Marilyn Friedman

Are you a broke writer who needs a break from the stress of the city? How does a relaxing mini-vacation at the Writing Pad High Desert Retreat sound? Spend a weekend filled with fantastic writing classes, gourmet food, top-notch instructors, and supportive classmates, all set in a beautiful high desert spa. A full scholarship ($815 value) will be granted to one lucky writer to attend our luxurious retreat on October 21-23! All you have to do is enter our writing contest. All rules are below.

Our last scholarship winner, Jim Gillett, got the essay that he worked on at the retreat published in Spirit Magazine, Southwest Airlines’ in-flight publication.  You should be next!

Don’t be intimidated–apply for the scholarship. You can do it! Good luck! 🙂

These are the rules that you must follow to apply for the scholarship. Note: Anyone can respond to the prompt and be entered into the August/September contest (we’re going to extend the deadline thru Oct. 6th for August/September) for a free writing class!

1. Post 1 writing sample only (that applies to the prompt below) in the comments of this blog AND email a copy to NO LATER than Thursday, October 6 at 10 a.m. Your sample should be a maximum of 5 normal sized paragraphs.  For poems, the limit would be 5 stanzas maximum or if the poem only has 1 long stanza, it should not be longer than 1 page, double spaced with 12 point font.  For short stories, even short lines of dialogue count as a paragraph.  Remember, the shorter your piece is, the better (but it should still be a complete story or a complete poem).

2. Also email proof of current or long-term economic hardship to NO LATER than Thursday, October 6 at 10 a.m. (Ex. Bank statements, letter demonstrating that you have been laid off from your job, etc.) Feel free to also summarize your situation in the email, but send the back up as well. This will be kept completely confidential.

3. Writing submissions can be in any form (poetry, short story, dialogue, fiction, non-fiction, a rant, etc.) but must follow the paragraph limit and apply to the writing prompt below.

4. The contest will be judged by the following esteemed writers (see the next blog entry for their bios): Antoine Wilson, Janelle Brown, Joe Donnelly and Pamela Ribon. The contest winner will be announced by Tuesday, October 11.

Writing Prompt: October in Joshua Tree is the perfect time of year to visit the high desert.  It is warm during the day and cool at night.  Therefore, we were inspired to create this writing prompt:

Write about your favorite fall memory.  Make a list of 5 things/memories that come to mind when I say the word “fall.”  Pick one and add a sensory detail to it (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight). Note: this does not have to be a true story and can be in any form (poetry, short story, dialogue, fiction, non-fiction, a rant, etc.).  For a chance at the scholarship spot, also email your writing sample and proof of current or long-term economic hardship to, following the instructions above.

Fall makes Marilyn think of apples and apple picking.  Here is an example of a lovely fall poem by former poet laureate Ted Kooser to inspire you.  We have also pasted another poem about apple picking by Robert Frost in the comments of this blog to help get your creative juices flowing.  Good luck!

I liked how the starry blue lid
of that saucepan lifted and puffed,
then settled back on a thin
hotpad of steam, and the way
her kitchen filled with the warm
wet breath of apples, as if all
the apples were talking at once,
as if they’d come cold and sour
from chores in the orchard,
and were trying to shoulder in
close to the fire. She was too busy
to put in her two cent’s worth
talking to apples. Squeezing
her dentures with wrinkly lips,
she had to jingle and stack
the bright brass coins of the lids
and thoughtfully count out
the red rubber rings, then hold
each jar, to see if it was clean,
to a window that looked out
through her back yard into Iowa.
And with every third or fourth jar
she wiped steam from her glasses,
using the hem of her apron,
printed with tiny red sailboats
that dipped along with leaf-green
banners snapping, under puffs
of pale applesauce clouds
scented with cinnamon and cloves,
the only boats under sail
for at least two thousand miles

~ Ted Kooser

Comment on this blog! Write about your favorite memory of autumn. Even if you are not applying for the scholarship, comment! You could win a free class at Writing Pad!

  1. Emma
  2. Anonymous
  3. dhalloran