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.