The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto Working Writer Fellowship

Joining the Grotto as a fellow is a great way for up-and-coming writers to work on a specific project in a community of like-minded peers.

The fellowship program is a new program dedicated to fostering emerging writers. It is open to writers of every genre, including fiction, nonfiction memoir, journalism, poetry, dramatic writing, etc.  Writers who have demonstrated a commitment to their craft but who are not yet widely published are invited to apply for one of up to three low-rent workspaces reserved for fellows. Fellows work two days a week for a six-month period (beginning in either January or July).

In addition to working at the Grotto, fellows will get a chance to meet with  established writers in their field. Fellows are invited to all Grotto events, including lunches, which are usually a communal occasion frequented by visiting writers, editors, filmmakers and other artists. Once a year, fellows are invited to do a public reading at the Grotto to present the work they’ve done on fellowship.

To apply:
Please send a sample of recent work (10 pages of prose or up to ten poems) as well as a brief letter explaining your background, your particular project, and what you hope to gain from working at the Grotto to sfgrottofellowship [at] gmail [dot] com. Fellows for the 2014 fellowships have already been decided. Our next application reading period for the 2015 fellowship year is October 1-31, 2014. Deadline for all applications is October 31, 2014.

Questions? Please write Jenny Bitner, Diana Kapp, or Maw Shein Win at sfgrottofellowship [at] gmail [dot] com

See below for a list of current Grotto Fellows.

Frequently asked questions

What constitutes a demonstrated commitment to writing?
Commitment to writing comes in many forms. You don’t need to have an MFA, though that would be an example of a demonstrated commitment. Internships in your field of interest, a history of attending writing conferences, publications, participation in writing workshops, or activism in the writing community (running a journal, organizing a reading series, or reading at local events) all show dedication to your craft.

Why only six fellows per year?
The Grotto has limited space and can only accommodate a few new people at a time. We’ve set aside space for emerging writers because new voices enrich our community.

What are you looking for?
We are looking for excellent writing and interesting and focused projects. You should have a clear idea of the trajectory of your project before you apply and it should be already underway.

How much does it cost to rent a fellowship space at the Grotto?
Grotto fellows pay $75 a month ($450 for the six-month term). The space may be used two days a week during business hours.

Why do I have to pay?
We are currently looking for ways to fund the Grotto fellowships, but right now, all the members of the Grotto pay their own way.

What is the application process?
Applications for next year’s fellowship must be received by October 31st, 2013. To apply, please send a sample of recent work (10 pages of prose or up to ten poems) as well as a brief letter explaining your background, your particular project, and what you hope to gain from working at the Grotto to sfgrottofellowship [at] gmail [dot] com. Finalists will be contacted at the end of November and invited to the Grotto for an informal lunch with Grotto members.

What do you mean by not yet widely published?
Fellows may be published, but need not be in order to apply. The goal of this fellowship is to offer up-and-coming writers a working environment among professionals in which to learn and thrive.

Current Grotto Fellows

CANDACE EROS DIAZ is a San Francisco Writer’s Grotto Fellow and a VONA/Voices alum. She is the Admissions and Student Services Coordinator for the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of California where she also received her MFA in both creative nonfiction and fiction. She is a recipient of a Vermont Studio Center residency and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in MARY: A Journal of New Writing, The East Bay Review, and Huizache among others. She lives in Oakland, CA.

SUSANNA KWAN is a native of San Francisco, where she works as a writer, editor, and illustrator. She has an MFA from Vanderbilt University and is currently working on a collection of short stories. Some of her recent writing can be found at The Rumpus and Devil’s Lake.


SARAMANDA SWIGART is thrilled to be a full-time fiction writer after years of writing ad copy and corporate literature. She has lived and worked in Italy, New York, San Francisco and Dubai. She recently completed an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and a supplementary degree in literary translation. Her short work has appeared in QuartoThin Air Magazine and Fogged Clarity Magazine. She is working on a collection of short interlinking stories, as well as a novel about a family’s incompatible coping strategies in the face of loss.



Former Grotto Fellows