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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Hardly any scholarships for writing mothers: no space in the tower room

There are countless scholarships for authors. Mothers who write are not thought of, and single parents are certainly not thought of. That needs to change.

Mother works on laptop next to her son at the dining table

“Too old, too mother and also too poor” for scholarships? Photo: Westend61/imago

We already know many gaps: Gender Pay Gap,Gender Time Gap, Gender Wealth Gap, Gender Care Gap and so on. A gap that doesn’t get as much attention, but which I notice more and more painfully as an author, is the gender scholarship gap, which especially affects writing mothers Scholarships completely left out.

As a rule, as a freelance author without a part-time job, you can now only make a living from writing if you keep things low and get your income from a mixture of book sales, advances and fees from commissions for texts, lectures or readings. Of course, there are people who can make a living from it without any problems and sometimes very well. But they either fall into the category of superstar, living alone without care obligations or cross-financed by an inheritance and/or partner. That’s why prizes and scholarships are important for many authors in order to fill gaps that can arise between two publications.

There are a wealth of scholarships and prizes in German-speaking countries that you can apply for as a journalist or author. For students with children, for women up to 35, work, research or residency scholarships. There seems to be something for everyone. Except for mothers over 35 or – heaven forbid – over 40. Apparently the limit of eligibility has been reached.

Single parents are not taken into account

Every time I dig through all the scholarships that I can’t apply for because I’m too old, too mother and too poor to sit in a tower room in a small German town for 16 weeks to work on my “special “I’m going into a bit of a slump when I’m trying to create a sophisticated literary work.”

Sitting by a lake for weeks or months and writing a new book would be wonderful. I have enough ideas, but I also have enough children to know that that won’t be possible. Even with a partner who could easily run the store on his own, I don’t see how I could leave town for so long. For single parents, this is all just a joke anyway.

It’s just that if you can’t write anymore, you just have to stop writing at some point. And that’s the long-term effect of this scholarship thing, it increases the existing inequality even further.

The image of “the writer” that is conveyed in all these advertisements is also crazy – especially for residency grants as a city clerk. Alone, sitting in a (not barrier-free) room for months, without any obligations and completely devoting myself to the city. You can see writers like that, I can think of several off the top of my head whose vibe is that. But is that really all we want to read?

Because there are certainly possibilities to change this system. Age limits could be abolished, or at least applicants could be credited with three years of life per child. The barriers to residency grants could be reduced by adapting the on-site attendance requirement to the respective needs and finding remote solutions. You could even specifically support parents and mothers. It’s hard to imagine what literature we’ve missed so far.

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