Molly Antopol, author of "The UnAmericans," was recently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and also received the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" award, an impressive achievement given the relative scarcity of funding for adult fiction writers.
You'll have to take our word on this one. We here at IP religiously track trends in the philanthropy world, and anecdotally speaking, times are tough for aspiring writers. There simply isn't as much funding available for creative writing compared to, say, dance or theater. In addition, when money is available, it tends to be targeted toward specific demographics. As we note in our Grant Finder on grants for creative writing, organizations like the Elizabeth George Foundation and Surdna provide funding for writers, but with a catch: The grants are mostly aimed at teenagers. Similarly, other organizations like the Andy Warhol Foundation support writers as long as the writing itself covers contemporary visual arts issues.
The bottom line is that for fiction writers under 40, securing funding can be a difficult undertaking, which is why the case study of Molly Antopol is so interesting. She netted two prestigious writing awards that actually include cash prizes.
Antopol teaches creative writing at Stanford University, where she received the aforementioned Wallace Stenger Fellowship, and her writing has appeared on NPR’s "This American Life," as well as magazines like One Story, Ecotone, and Esquire. We stumbled upon her thanks to this illuminating piece in The Atlantic, where she talks about her all-time favorite passages in literature. It's a must-read for any writer.
As for the awards, Stanford offers ten two-year Wallace Stenger Fellowships per year, five in fiction and five in poetry. The fellows convene on a weekly basis in a three-hour workshop with faculty. What's most interesting about the fellowship is what it doesn't include. There are no curricular requirements other than workshop attendance and writing, and the program offers no degree. It does, however, offer money. Fellowships include a living stipend of $26,000 a year plus paid tuition and health insurance.
The "5 Under 35 Award," meanwhile, isn't as lucrative, but it's more selective. Supported by a donation from Amazon.com, the foundation offers five winners under 35 a cash award of $1,000 each.