Congratulations on winning the contest — How will winning the contest help you and your writing?

Thank you! The contest has helped my writing on two fronts. First, it has given me a target date to complete my novel. When I submitted my entry to Book Pipeline’s contest, I had been working on the final draft of the novel. This story, a historical fiction set in Japanese-occupied Philippines during WWII, has taken me several years and multiple drafts to get to this stage. At the same time, with no one waiting for this manuscript, it was easy to continue tinkering with it, regardless of how much it has been polished. Since the contest required entrants to submit a completed manuscript when the results were announced, this gave me a deadline, a hard stop if you will, on this massive novel project—regardless of the contest outcome. Second, winning the contest gave me a head start on the query process. The prize not only consists of having access to a literary agent who is willing to read my manuscript, but also includes my working with someone at Book Pipeline who can provide me with perspective on other agents who may be open to the type of novel I’ve written and put me in touch with them.

How has your experience in The Writing Salon’s classes helped you grow as a writer?

I’ve taken classes from The Writing Salon at various stages of my writing journey—from when I started writing fiction again to post-MFA when I wanted to continue honing my craft. Writing is a constant learning process for me. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a class or workshop, or attended an event at The Writing Salon where I didn’t come away with some writing nugget that has stayed with me and infused my work. I can name a number of instructors I’ve taken classes and workshops from whom I would gladly take another class with. Having said this, one of the classes that always comes to mind when I think about The Writing Salon is one I took way outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to work on my prose—find its rhythm and sounds. So, I took a poetry class with Ben Jackson. In the first class session, it was clear that everyone, except me, had written a poem at least once in their life. I felt intimidated by my lack of experience and wondered whether this class was beyond what I was capable of, particularly when I learned we would all be expected to write poems. But this turned out to be one of my favorite classes, because Ben adapted the class so that everyone could participate. From this class, I gained more of an appreciation for the sounds of words and their rhythms and even came away with writing one of my favorite phrases, which stemmed from a villanelle homework assignment: “the semi-plucked chicken refused to die.”

What do you enjoy most about the classes, workshops, and events at The Writing Salon?

One of the things I enjoy about The Writing Salon is the small, intimate size of the classes and the fact that the instructors as well as the students are so supportive and encouraging. Writing can be a vulnerable endeavor—I certainly felt exposed with my initial writing efforts—and it made a difference to have a safe place where I could share my stories and essays and even poems. This enabled me to feel more confident about sharing my pieces with a group of strangers—though I now see familiar faces in some of the classes—and certainly motivated me to want to write more. Because writing can also be an isolating endeavor, I enjoy the sense of community which comes with taking classes/workshops or attending events at The Writing Salon.

How do you create harmony between your creative writing, your job as a Marketing Consultant, and your personal life?

In order to write, I needed to create boundaries. My job could easily take over every aspect of my life and it once did. When I decided to integrate writing into my life, I made a point to establish a regular place and time for it. My best writing is done first thing in the morning, and it’s amazing how much can be written when there are time constraints. Also, I carry a writing journal and/or always have the Notes app on my phone handy. This way, when I’m not actively at my writing desk and I randomly get ideas toward a story or essay or novel, I can quickly jot down a phrase or dialogue or a solve for a sticky storyline for when I’m back at my writing desk. Sometimes, it’s during these “off writing” moments that I do my best writing.

Rowena Leong Singer is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, where she was awarded the Barry Hannah Merit Scholarship in Fiction. She recently won the literary fiction category for the 2021 Book Pipeline Unpublished Contest for her first novel, All Manner of Beasts. Her micro nonfiction, Magic in Manila, was published in the New York Times. Other published works include her essay, “Manila, Philippines, The 1970s,” published in Narrative Magazine, and “S Curves,” which aired on KQED’s Perspectives. She has also received an honorable mention in the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers.

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search