Just over a year ago, Steven Wingate reviewed Bulgarian-American writers Miroslav Penkov’s debut collection, East of the West.
The eponymous story from that collection just won the BBC Short Story Award, the first time the £15,000 prize was opened up to international submissions – in honor of the London Olympics.
This has me thinking about the importance of prize money to the writing community, a conversation I was having at a playground in Washington Heights a few weeks ago. You’re either independently wealthy, writing around the margins of other full-time obligations (a job, for instance), or have made enough of a splash to live on income from past books while you work on new projects. An infusion of prize money in the writing community more often than not simply means “Now I can pay a babysitter for a few hours a week so I can write.” Or, “Now I can drop the second job for six months and finish my novel at night.” Perhaps this holds true for all the arts: even small grants keep the flame alive. If someone gave you $1,000, how would you use it to further your writing?