We’re thrilled to introduce the 2018 Oregon Literary Fellowship recipients with individual features on our blog! Out-of-state judges spent several months evaluating the 400+ applications we received, and selected eighteen writers and two publishers to receive grants of $3,500 each. The 2019 OLF applications will be posted at the end of April, and the deadline to apply will be Monday, July 9, 2018.
2018 Oregon Literary Fellowship Recipient
Erica Anne Briggs
Erica describes herself as “a loving mother and wife, dedicated educator, and faithful servant of Christ – occasionally.” She often daydreams about returning to her old life as a traveling gypsy, living in states from coast to coast and abroad. Her greatest wish is to either win the lottery by finding a winning ticket since she never actually plays, or become a best selling author. Every now and then she captures time to actually write, thus the odds are slightly in favor of the latter coming to fruition.
Q&A with Literary Arts
What are your sources of inspiration?
I am inspired by what I observe and hear in God around me: subtle color variations in brown skins; the dips and twirls in southern tongues; hushed footfalls on the Rogue River forest floor; elders laughing; children holding hands. Simple, every day moments that shake up reality so beautifully as to make me feel life is not only worth doing, but documenting with the power of word.
How would you describe your creative process?
I spend a great deal of time in my imagination. It’s like a stage for try outs, placing the human characters in various situations to watch how they might respond. I dress up the creatures, decide how many arms they have, where their eyes should be, what powers they possess. Though I have an idea how I want the story to end when I start writing, the characters decide how they will get there through their dialogue and their emotional response to what’s happening. If they get stuck somewhere, I might add a new problem to distract or redirect their attention to lead them where I need them to go. As in life, regardless of outcome, conflict both exposes and deepens character. There is always a trouble, internal or external, that must be overcome. This process is one of very few actions in which I can feel a sense of communion with God. It is the only time I feel completely at ease. I am still and quiet and fully surrendered to something greater than self. Thus, writing for me is divine. Whether the project is completed or not, the act of writing is sufficient to satisfy my soul.
What is most exciting about receiving a fellowship?
his fellowship came after a year of slowly morphing into a troll marked with a capital “L” on his forhead, banished to an underground cave reserved for losers, alone and forgetable. I’d been rejected by every writing award and contest I’d entered. The challenges of the new job I’d moved across country to start was wrecking havoc my mental, emotional and physical health, and subseqently ruining my children’s lives. My resignation left me feeling defeated, weak and unworthy. Then my camper, the joy of our family and our primary source of intentional quality time, was stolen. Shortly thereafter, the family cat was hit by a car and died. When my mother passed quite suddenly, I determined that not even writing could reroute the direction my life was turning. So rooted was I in the sour swamp of self-pity, I’d completely forgotten I’d submitted my work to OLA. Upon receipt of the call, my surprise magically transformed me into a human and tranported me above ground. I feel affirmed and eager to return to the divine writing life.
What are you currently working on?
A speculative fiction about a boy and his sister discovering their power to change the world by entering a separate world, one that holds all the imaginations of every human being on the planet.
What advice do you have for future applicants?
Submit your best and then forget about it. If you win, it will be a wonderful surprise.
Judge’s comments from fellowship judge Nova Ren Suma:
“In Erica A. Briggs’s Mind Mirrors, young readers will find a vivid, deeply imagined world where reality and greater destiny meet, and where the power is ultimately in the hands of a young boy up against extraordinary obstacles. Zach’s mother had told him from beyond the grave to repeat these words to himself and believe them: “I am powerful. I make my own choices. I pray for wisdom to choose well,” words that will resonate with young readers and offer a sense of hope in the face of a shocking loss and a threat that Zach and Tashi will have to overcome together. I found myself swept away by these pages and their promise of an epic fantasy, and awed by a gut-wrenching turn that changes everything. Briggs writes with guts, heart, and a unique and soaring vision.”