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Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize

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Deadline: April 1, 2020  

Only literary or creative nonfiction proposals will be considered. The Prize does not fund poetry or fiction proposals or children’s literature.

Emerging, mid-career or established writers in the field of literary nonfiction are encouraged to apply. The Waterston Desert Writing Prize seeks writing that offers a unique voice, an engaging style, literary sensibility, creativity and attention to detail that combine to add fresh perspectives and a meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature. All applications will be evaluated via a blind peer review process.

 Considerations in the selection process will be:
  • the writing sample’s artistic excellence and desert literacy,
  • the proposal’s strength,
  • the author biography’s ability to demonstrate a history and future of writing and desert experience.
  • Financial and other kinds of need, the body of past work, geographic location of the applicant, academic career, professional reputation, etc., are not criteria for receipt of this award.


Proposals can be submitted once each year beginning January 1 through April 1. Save your proposal in a single file  as an Adobe Acrobat PDF or as a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file. Then click  the Submit button at the bottom of this screen. Complete the form and  upload your proposal file. Click Submit and you will receive a confirmation of the submission. You must  follow this process to ensure your proposal is received and eligible for review  by the selection committee.

Further, please submit only the materials specified below.  Any extra materials included with the proposal, and not requested in these guidelines, will not be reviewed.

Step 1. Fill out the application form:

Applicant’s name, address and phone. This is the only location where your identifying information should be available.
Step 2. Upload ONE Word or Acrobat file:
(Please combine the three parts of the application into ONE document and DO NOT place your name or other identifying information on any page of the document)

1. Biographical Statement (No more than one double-spaced page in 12 point type)
Provide a narrative (not a resume or vita) summarizing your educational and professional background, writing experience, and publication history. Do NOT disclose your identity in this information. Submissions with resumes or vitae will be rejected. Please also answer these questions:        

How did you hear about the Prize?
Why are you interested in working in the desert?
How will a Waterston Desert Writing Prize award benefit your work?
Describe your desert experience(s).
Demonstrate a commitment to making a meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature.

2. Proposal Title and Description (No more than one double-spaced page in 12 point type)
Please note that neither the particular desert region to be visited nor the length of time to be spent there are specified by the Prize. Budget information is not required in the description. Any desert region in the world is applicable to this award.

Proposal Title
Describe your writing project
Where, in the desert, will you go to research your project?
What is your plan for field work?
Please explain specifically how the project will:

Add new perspectives and make a meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature
Advance desert literacy

 3. Writing Sample (No more than 10 double-spaced pages in 12 point type with one inch margins)

You may submit published, unpublished, or work in progress. The work must be that for which you have sole artistic ownership and responsibility.
While you are welcome to submit any nonfiction sample, the Prize only considers literary nonfiction proposals about deserts for the award. It is recommended that you submit work that is part of your intended final project or closely represents it in content and style. Samples about deserts and natural settings are more likely to be reviewed favorably. Writing samples that are in other genres such as poetry, fiction or juvenile literature will be disqualified.

Application Submission  Deadline: APRIL 1, 2020. The award will be announced in early May 2020.

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