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Application Essay #2

by Em16


I am applying for a summer writing camp at the University of Iowa, and part of the application is to write an essay in response to a prompt. The prompt is this:

"In 1-2 pages, tell us why you want to participate in the Studio and what you hope to accomplish here. You may want to discuss your writing sample or talk about writers or works that you admire. This is a chance for us to get to know you a little bit from your own words. The statement of purpose should be typed and double-spaced and should be submitted as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file."

This is my response to that prompt:

I’ve always liked writing. As a child, I would write essays for my parents, trying to convince them why I should be able to watch an R rated movie or listen to a certain risqué song. But now, during the pandemic, my writing has taken on a new intensity and meaning. No longer is it a light hearted game, a fun jest- it has become extremely necessary for the preservation of my mental sanity. Writing has been my outlet, allowing me to tunnel down rabbit holes and explore new worlds even while my own is severely limited. Physically, I am sitting at my desk, but mentally I’m crossing the Pacific Ocean, or farming a field in Middle Ages France or fighting on the battlefields of Rome. It drives away school doldrums, and the distraction keeps me from worrying obsessively about my grades. It challenges my intellect and keeps my brain from stagnating. Writing, while always important to me, has been my saving grace during the pandemic.

In my writing, I often turn to literature of inspiration and guidance. Rick Riordan, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis were my earliest teachers on plot, character development, and the beauty of figurative language. Even as they entertained me and made many afternoons enjoyable, they were drilling into my brain the fundamentals of plot, character development, and figurative language. This love of literature has been sustained and expanded on throughout my life. In my freshman English class, I discovered epic poetry, and fell in love with the Odyssey. It is so distant, and so removed from both our cultural values and our literary values, but despite all it’s differences, it seems as familiar to me as Taylor Swift’s latest album or Stephen King’s latest novel. The characters suffer immensely, and their sorrow and grief is intimately relatable, but so is the perseverance and grit they show in their struggles to improve their lives. It is inspiring to see how Penelope wards off all her suitors, or how Calypso desperately tries to keep Odysseus with her. These books are what first showed me the power of good writing, and inspired me to become a writer myself.

This love of writing is what leads me to apply to the University of Iowa’s summer writing programs. I want to challenge myself, to do something outside of my comfort zone, and push myself to become a better writer. I desire to experiment with new techniques, try new forms of writing, and increase my appreciation of literature. I’d like to come away from this course with pieces that I could submit to literary magazines at my school, and most importantly, the knowledge and experience I need to continue to write, in college and later goal. My goal is to be a published author, but you don’t get that level of skills in one day. It takes time, and I see taking this course as one of the first steps in achieving that larger goal.

Most importantly, however, I am applying to this course because I love writing. I would love to spend long hours laboring over a story or a poem, and to be exposed to new ideas in a classroom full of other interested writers. I would greatly enjoy having a space to share my work, and see how other people react to it, and hearing some of their work, as well. This course will undoubtedly be mentally enriching and stimulating, but above all my main reason in applying is that I truly believe I will find it be an incredibly pleasurable experience.


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Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:36 am
ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



camp! what a co incidence! a few minutes ago, i too was thinking of a camp. whatever. let's come to the review. i can view how you felt in the days of your lockdown, through your essay, which is really important.i must say that you have an imaginative nature. i appreciate that. yeah, you must challenge yourself.
" I desire to experiment with new techniques, try new forms of writing, and increase my appreciation of literature." in a literary language you can write, i desire to put my writings into a test tube to experiment to them. your finishing line is a good one. overall, i liked that! keep it up.




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Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:29 am
ForeverYoung299 says...



i liked that




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Sun Jan 31, 2021 11:04 pm
Plume wrote a review...



Hello! Plume here, with a review!

Ah, writing camp applications. That's a topic I know very well. I've had to explain countless times why I like writing so much, so I can relate to your situation very well. Anyways.

This essay was pretty solid! I really enjoyed reading your personal take on writing, and I found I could relate very much to your opinions on why you love writing so much. I too have found that the pandemic has done a lot for me and my writing, and how much I rely on it to express myself properly.

I think your use of personal examples also help to hammer home the point, but I think you could be even more specific in some places. The people who view applications have to do it for several people, and they all sort of blend together. It struck me how much yours reminded me of mine and other peoples' that I've read in the past, which might be a bad thing. You should always try to stand out in a good way, and I think adding in little personal touches or really incorporating your personality and/or writing voice to be a good way to do that. It's not necessary, though, and it's just a suggestion.

Specifics

It drives away school doldrums, and the distraction keeps me from worrying obsessively about my grades.


THIS. THIS IS SO RELATABLE. Also, I adore your usage of the word "doldrums." It isn't a word I hear or use on a regular basis, but it's such a fun one.

It is so distant, and so removed from both our cultural values and our literary values, but despite all it’s differences, it seems as familiar to me as Taylor Swift’s latest album or Stephen King’s latest novel.


This was really the only mistake I found, and it's super common and one that I've made countless times too. "It's" should be "its," since your using it in the possessive sense.

Overall: this essay was very solid, and I think it'll do finely for your application. I hope you get in!! Writing camps, especially university ones, are always so great. If you do get in, I hope you have fun!!




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Fri Jan 22, 2021 2:25 pm
kryptonianmenace wrote a review...



This is very good! My only suggestions would be to 1. expand on why you chose University of Iowa's program in particular (and more than just "It's closest to me" haha) because it'll make them think you've chosen them out of multiple candidates, even if you haven't, and 2. if you're comfortable with it, mention that you're active here at YWS and explain how you've learned to give and receive feedback through YWS, along with talking about how their program will expand on those skills.
University of Iowa has FANTASTIC writing programs, so I hope you get in!




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Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:16 am
quitecontrary wrote a review...



Hi there!
I loved your essay: you blend a lot of great imagery and always focus on why you want to be a writer, and it shows a lot about you as a person.

I especially enjoyed the imagery in your first paragraph, starting with “Writing has been my outlet...” Even reading the sentences themselves is a twisty path, but in a very good way!

I think it can take your essay up a notch just by deleting the first two sentences. You probably want to stand out among other writers, and if you start with a generality you loose the “specialness”. Stick with one personal experience, like how for you writing has taken on a new intensity during the pandemic, and you will stick out much more than the dozens of other writers who have probably also always liked writing 😁

As for sticking to the prompt, 10/10. You did a great job choosing one experience and using that to answer the prompt, and your flow throughout is smooth and measured. Overall, this is a really great piece, and I hope you get in the camp!





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