“Having a community is oxygen! Can’t live without it.”
— Amanda Churchill
The 2021 WLT Fellowship Program marks the first year of the program and includes five emerging writers who will spend twelve months enjoying classes, connecting with instructors, attending the annual Agents & Editors Conference, and building their writing community. We’re happy to introduce them to you over the next few weeks.
2021 WLT Fellow Amanda Churchill is a writer living in Keller, Texas. Her work has been featured in Witness, River Styx, The Examined Life Journal, among others. She holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of North Texas. Churchill has attended the One Story Summer Workshop (2019), juried master classes at the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop (2016 and 2017), and recently attended the Tin House Summer Conference and StoryBoard Chicago (2020). She was also a Fall 2020 mentee in AWP’s Writer to Writer program. Amanda is currently revising her first novel, a work inspired by the life of her grandmother, a Japanese war bride, that focuses on the recreation of home and self in a new country.
Scribe: What inspires you to write (even on the days when you’re not writing)?
Amanda Churchill: Watching/listening to other writers. If I’m having a particularly sloth-like day, I’ll find a recording of a writer that I love doing a reading somewhere or peruse favorite writing sites for (free) videos of classes. If I only have the time to listen or if I’m attempting to juggle learning with laundry, I’ll find a good podcast– I love “First Draft: A Dialogue on Writing” with Mitzi Rapkin. These opportunities light the writing fire. If I decide to read instead of write, I’m more inclined to get sucked into the story and not fight my way back to my own desk.
Scribe: If you could ask one author (living or dead) one question about their writing process, who would you ask, what question would you ask, and why?
AC: I have so many favorite writers! But, lately, I’ve found myself looking closer again at Julie Otsuka’s work, which is so perfectly formed and textured… and spare! She can do with 50 words what I couldn’t do with 1500. I wonder if this is simply the way she writes and sees the world OR if this is a product of her revision practice. So, “how does one revise and expose the heart of the story effectively?”
Scribe: What’s one challenge you’ve faced in your own work that you hope to focus on during the year ahead?
AC: Revision. Revision. Re-vision? Because, at this point, it is a matter of revisioning the second(ish) draft of a novel, moving the story closer to the target, while staying true to the original idea. In some places, I’m totally re-writing in a new and different way. In other places, I feel like I’m excavating the best parts and cutting the rest. There’s so much work to do and I get ridiculously lost… weekly. So, that’s my goal for 2021! To find my footing within revision.
Scribe: What drew you to the WLT Fellowship Program – why did you apply?
AC: I really love the Writers’ League of Texas and how this organization has worked so hard to provide opportunities for writers. It’s no small job because we are no small state! And, while I had taken classes before 2020, WLT became a bigger part of my daily life in March, when the pandemic hit Texas and I, like so many others, felt really lost. WLT offered so many amazing options for connection and I felt buoyed whenever I tuned in via Zoom. I had something to look forward to that fed my soul. When I saw the call for the Fellowship and all that was so generously offered, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It seemed rather serendipitous that this organization that I had relied on for sanity was actually extending this chance to become more involved. I’m glad that I applied and I am grateful for the support.
Scribe: Finish this sentence: As a writer, having a community is/means _____________________________.
AC: Oxygen. Can’t live without it!
Thank you, Amanda!
About the WLT Fellowship Program:
The WLT Fellowship Program offers emerging writers the opportunity to spend a full year honing their craft and learning about the business of writing.
Each WLT Fellow receives tuition-free access to a curated slate of classes, no fewer than two per month, plus special post-class sessions with the instructors. In addition, each WLT Fellow is invited to attend the annual Agents & Editors Conference in Austin, TX, with the registration fee waived and hotel accommodations provided, plus the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a literary agent during the weekend-long event.
The application process for the 2022 WLT Fellowship Program will open in November 2021.