Contagious Creativity

S is for sustainability.  Get the details below.

S is for sustainability. Get the details below.



knowledge is power

In 1983, long before my mother’s dementia, she and I attended a writing conference at Avila College in Kansas City. At the luncheon, when a trophy was given for the best contest story written by an unpublished writer, one of the women at our table had to go up and accept it on behalf of the writer. The actual winner—a mother with several young children—paid the entry fee to enter her story and receive a critique, but she hadn’t been able to afford the cost of the conference and luncheon, plus child care and transportation, so she wasn’t present to receive her own hard-won prize.

Mom and I, as well as many women writers around us, felt strongly that the priorities were way off base. Instead of giving trophies that would gather dust on a bookshelf, wouldn’t it be more helpful to offer scholarships for mothers who needed financial help to reach their writing goals?

Oh, how I wish the heavy curtain of dementia would lift so Mom could see the assistance becoming available for mothers who are also writers and artists. And she’d be thrilled that it’s open to women everywhere.

The SUSTAINABLE ARTS FOUNDATION offers up to five awards of $6,000 each, and up to five Promise Awards of $2,000 each for writers and artists who have at least one child under the age of 18.   Winners may use the funds for materials, conferences, equipment, classes, daycare assistance, or for anything that will aid them in reaching their creative goals.

Writers apply in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, long form journalism, picture books, graphic novels, or playwriting. Visual artists apply in painting, sculpture, drawing/illustration, printmaking, mixed media, or photography. Both groups submit a brief biography, an artist statement, a curriculum vita, and a $15 entry fee by February 26.

Go to this website for the required entry form and complete guidelines:

Please share this opportunity with friends, family, deserving neighbors, and the waitress who has been penning short stories or painting murals during her breaks and while her children are in school. Encourage creative hopefuls.

Albert Einstein said,“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”

Norman Rockwell knew kids need a lot of supervision...writers know that kids' antics also make good stories.

Norman Rockwell knew kids need a lot of supervision; writers know that kids’ antics sometimes make really good stories, if you’re not too tired to write the stories.

Mom was VERY young when she learned that babies take a lot of time from writing...and learning to write.

Mom was VERY young when she learned that babies take a lot of time away from writing…and learning to write.



Filed under art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, making a difference, paying writing opportunities, writing, writing contest with cash prizes

65 responses to “Contagious Creativity

  1. juliabarrett

    Wow! Back in the day I coulda used this – as recently as 2010! Got an award in NYC but couldn’t travel there to accept. Too expensive.

    • Oh, Julia. So did they mail you the award later?
      That happened to me years ago, but the prize money wouldn’t have covered the travels, so they mailed me a check. Which was nice, but I wish it somehow had been a package deal.

      • juliabarrett

        Yes, they assigned someone to accept the award for me, then it was mailed to me. It’s a totally cool engraved crystal award. Really heavy. Like an Emmy or something. :))

      • Brava, Julia! But it would have been even more cool-er 😉 if you could have received it in person and WOWed them with your smile!

  2. How nice to think of the ops out there now! My choices were few when I started out…writer wasn’t one since it paid poorly and men got the interesting beats!

    • If you started in journalism or reporting, Claudia, then you really were up against several obstacles. Freelance writing was more “open,” but what short stories paid didn’t cover writing classes or conferences or workshops that taught us things we needed to learn, and allowed us to meet mentor writers. When I read of this Sustainable Arts Foundation, I was so glad that the opportunities were really changing.

  3. I was never a writer but I had an opportunity to attend college and get a degree after immigranting to this country,

  4. It’s great to see that mothers of young children have more opportunities now with grants available. Reading about the young mother that won the prize at the luncheon in 1983 I can’t help but wonder whether she got anywhere with her writing.
    I know your Mom wrote some really good poetry but did she write stories too? It would be nice to think of her being eligible for some grants if the dementia hadn’t struck.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • I’ve wondered about her as well, David. That was more than 3 decades ago and I never met her, but still I think about her winning the trophy but not being able to come to receive it and be encouraged by other writers.
      My mom did write poetry, and also some children’s stories. Several years ago there was a Senior Women Poetry Awards that would have paid for her to attend a conference and work with other poets, but she wasn’t able to travel by then and the dementia was already making her confused.

  5. This is a wonderful opportunity for young creatives! I wonder if there is something similar here. My niece is an artist. She went to art school, now has a day job for four days a week in an art related area and the rest of the week she either makes things to sell through her Etsy shop, enters art competitions for illustrators or she is working on commissions garnered by slogging her portfolio around to book publishers. Like your new year’s post, Marylin – Yougottawanna – and boy, does she wanna!

    • Jenny, this very program IS available for you; it’s open to women EVERYWHERE, in every country, as long as the women have at least one child under the age of 18. Please send this to your niece; the art opportunities are numerous.
      I was thrilled to read the fine print and realize this was open to women writers and artists everywhere.

  6. Thanks for bringing this to our attention Marylin. I reblogged it today and as Jenny, I wonder if there is something like this available here in NZ

    • Judith, the Sustainable Arts Foundation is available in NZ! Go to the website I listed. In the top bar, click on 2016. It will take you to all the details, and yes, this is open to women EVERYWHERE! 🙂

  7. How wonderful this is Marylin, I remember the days when it was hard for me to go anywhere with two little ones. To provide a means for young writers to encourage their creativity is a blessing.
    Speaking of little ones, it looks like today just may be Penelope’s birth day! Stay tuned. It could be up on my blog by tomorrow.
    (say a prayer) xo Joanne

    • Saying prayers now, Joanne. Please keep us informed about Penelope! And if her Mama is an artist or a writer, when her baby is born she will qualify for the Sustainable Arts award. 🙂 Of course, she might be too busy…and too tired/sleepy for awhile…but what if Penelope’s Grandma Joanne volunteered to sign up for baby cuddling? ❤

  8. What a wonderful idea! I remember those days.

    • Oh, so do I, Merril. I remember when my daughter was 3 and there was an excellent class offered for novel writing. As a single mom, there was no way I could swing paying for the class and a good babysitter, and my family lived in another state. When I read about the Sustainable Arts plan, I thought, “It’s about time!” 😉

  9. What a fabulous foundation, Marylin. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
    As for the photo of your mother with her doll… ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Isn’t that just the cutest thing, Jill! It’s one of my favorite pictures of my mom as a toddler. My grandmother once told me that when my mom’s little brother was born (soon after this picture was taken) she tried to trade her doll for the baby. It was always a natural thing for her. 🙂

  10. I love it that you and your Mom attended these conferences and workshops together.

  11. calvin

    Dare I say, Cowboys segued into Cowgirls who exercise there mind not their brawn. In the expand world of creativity there is, there should be, plenty room for all to roam freely. The problem is and always will be, how to foster and nurture those without opportunity. Sad to say, but the disenfranchised are still out there, not hiding, but rather pushed to the side. But there really isn’t an end to this, so a helping hand or caring embrace from such a program is an emphatic positive for a women facing more negative then one should have to. At the very least it gives them something to hold on to.

    Thank for giving us something to think about, short term and long term.

    • I still think about that mother who won the contest but couldn’t afford to go to the conference to receive the trophy and support from other writers, Calvin. That was over 30 years ago, and I wonder what happened to her, and how her life could have been different. And the sad thing is that if any of us at the conference had known this was happening, I really do think we could have raised the money to pay for her fees. We weren’t wealthy people in the audience, but there were good, caring, helpful women who would have remembered how difficult it was and would have helped out.

      • calvin

        One can hope the creative spirit of which she possessed was her outlet. Creativity is pretty powerful ‘shtufffs’ after all. We all have those, whom we wonder about years, decades, later. My list would fill a museum, sadly.

      • My list, too, Calvin. But my wonderings about what might have been also keep me thinking and searching for ways to watch for opportunities to change the averages to the good things that are now happening. Otherwise, it’s too frustrating.

  12. No one puts iconic images to better use than you do. And your mom with her dolly – right up there with Rockwell.

    Yes, scholarships over trophies. . . I’ll do my best to think how I can promote the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Until now, I didn’t know such a fund existed. Thank you, Marylin, for promoting this great cause.

    • I’m more aware now, Marian, of women who are checking out writing books in the library, are carefully reading the fliers for writing and art conferences and workshops. I printed out copies of the Sustainable Art Foundation program and posted them on bulletin boards. Until last week I didn’t even know it existed, but I really want moms with children to have this opportunity.

  13. Jim

    What a great find, Marylin! The Sustainable Arts Foundation sounds fantastic. Mary would proudly support this effort to reach a neglected niche of aspiring young artists. Is there a way to make donations to the Foundation if one wishes to financially support the effort?

    I remember when you were an aspiring young writer while we were raising Molly. Money was okay for us. We lived within our budget, but finding time to write was difficult for you while balancing teaching duties with family obligations. I remember one night when you found some quiet time in the basement to work on your novel using our new fantastic Apple IIe computer. You had written for several hours and produced many pages of great text when a lightening strike knocked out power in our neighborhood and you lost all the pages because they weren’t saved. I think you threatened to go back to the good ole trustworthy typewriter. But you went back to work on the Apple and have become a gifted writer and teacher over these many years. Love you. Love the memories.

    • Oh, honey, I still cringe when I remember that night. And I still think that surely those “perfect” pages I’d written would have made me famous if only they hadn’t disappeared with the power.
      Excuses, excuses. 😉
      Love you, too, honey, and our memories. ❤

  14. It’s great that there are now so many funds out there to help writers – those who are mothers and those who just need a little extra help – what a shame that writer couldn’t experience her success in person!

    • I really do hope that she went on and succeeded, Andrea, encouraged by the story win, and the trophy. I’m just sorry she couldn’t have been there in person to be applauded by other writers.
      There are so many who just need a little extra help; in addition to help with food, shelter and health care, there’s also sometimes a creative void that needs nourishment and help, too.

  15. Thank you, Marylin! I just might have to look into this. You are such a fountain of information! XO

  16. What a great program! Like you, I’ve been at conferences where an entrant couldn’t afford to attend or an attendee couldn’t afford to attend the second day with the award banquet.

    Having read what they do with the entry fee, I understand the necessity of it. I also understand that a small payment makes it more likely that only those serious about their craft will apply. However, it’s unfortunate that an inability to pay $15 might stand between a worthy contender and funds that could propel them forward.

    • I thought the same thing, Shel. But one of the writers I know from NLAPW (National League of American Pen Women) emailed me that she had also researched this program and was totally supportive of the need for the $15 fee that goes for administrative costs and judging expenses.
      And since the fee is only slightly more than a couple packs of cigarettes, if an artist or writer is serious, she will find the funds. This contest is open to women everywhere all over the world and the multiple money prizes are significant, and in her experience the first step of paying this entry fee is a necessary investment instead of an entitlement.
      It’s amazing how much I learn from others’ opinions; it gave me something to think about…on several levels.

  17. would be nice to have some for the elderly as well…

    • Oh, I agree, Maureen. With all our life experiences and desires to continue writing and painting, etc., it would be terrific support and encouragement to have such a program. They could call it the Grandma Moses Fund. 🙂

  18. What a wonderful idea. Your mother would be pleased to know that has come about I’m sure.

    • She certainly would, Darlene. Before the dementia, she was a mentor for a beginning writer, and I know of several poets she treated to workshops so they could get started. Mom would be amazed and pleased that such financial assistance was now offered to creative women who are also mothers of children.

  19. A wonderful, encouraging way to support young mothers/writers/creators. Yet, I still think one of the best encouragements I have seen was your personal sponsorship of a writing prize. 🙂

  20. Marylin, your creative posts are contagious. They always uplift others. Your mom would be proud of the opportunities for Moms and she’d be proud of you. 😊

    • Aw, thank you, Tracy. You say such thoughtful and encouraging things. I do wish my mom could be aware of this opportunity for writers and artists who are also busy mothers. I think she’d be laughing and clapping her hands…and trying to think of women she could contact and tell them to enter! 🙂

  21. This makes me teary and so appreciative that there are people out there willing to support the creativity of a mother. Thank you so much Marylin for this beautiful post and opportunity. I celebrate all those entering and all those who are given the extra support. Just your story and essay are supportive and give hope.

    • Thank you so much, Carolyn. I had the same response when I read of this opportunity, and I applaud the Foundation for this vision, and all the mothers who will be entering. It does make us hopeful. 🙂

  22. fantastic ways to encourage writers.

  23. I could really feel your happiness and passion when I read this post, Marylin. I think I read through just about all the comments as well. Such hope for women stretched too thinly and wanting to become all of themselves.

    • Oh, I’m glad my happiness and passion for this wonderful opportunity came across, Jane. 30 years ago I would have been thrilled and inspired to have had such an opportunity, so I’m hoping this does the same for the eligible women artists and writers now.

  24. Molly

    Wow….if only I was an artist or writer – I mean an artist who doesn’t just make gifts from the heart, and a writer who writes more than papers for my Master’s class or IEPs for my students!!

    I have shared this on Facebook so that many of my friends who are artists or writers and mommies can try for this!!

    Thanks for sharing with everyone!

  25. Think outside the box, Mookie, or out on the porch. The Picasso chairs you created and painted for us were ultra-artistic; and the body-cushion chairs with the shoe feet were genius! Visual art that creates happiness–is there a category for that? 😉 If only they offered awards for a super-wonderful daughter, mother of the most amazing children ever, and outstanding teacher of children who blossom because of her ~ you would win!!! Love you lots, sweetie!

  26. Thank you, Marylin, for speaking up for writers who are moms. I passed along this post to some younger women on Facebook. Great opportunity and good of you to share it.

  27. You’re very welcome, Shirley. I think we both have the same enthusiasm about this opportunity, and the hope that deserving artists and writer moms will apply before the deadline.

  28. That financial incentive would certainly have been welcome when I was writing at home and raising two girls. I’m glad other creatives will have an opportunity at this prize. 😉

  29. Oh Marylin, wow wonderful that these scholarships are available to mothers with young children. As you say, it seems a great shame when prize winners aren’t able to accept their hard-won prize in person because of a lack of funds. I wish I had known about this when my children were young, I never seemed to have the means to pay for what I needed to get started, which wasn’t much, but still! And the photo of your dear Mom is priceless, absolutely gorgeous 🙂 ❤

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