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2010 EDGE Grad Elissa Washuta and the “Business of Being a Writer”

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

Elissa Washuta, My Body Is a Book of Rules Reading at Hugo House, Performance still, 2014. Photo: Sarah Samudre.

Born and raised New Jersey, Elissa Washuta is a Seattle-based writer of personal essays and memoirs whose work has appeared in Salon, The Chronicle of Higher Education, BuzzFeed, among other publications. She was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and is the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules.

Elissa received a BFA in English from the University of Maryland and a MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington. She is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and currently serves as the undergraduate adviser for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington. She is a nonfiction faculty member in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, a faculty advisor for Mud City Journal, and the Saturday editor for The Rumpus.

Although Elissa is a gifted writer, she once harbored apprehensive feelings toward applying for grants. “I’d spent a lot of hours learning the craft and working on my prose, but I didn’t know much about the business of being a writer. I remember hearing that I’d be learning about how to apply for grants and thinking, I’ll never, ever get a grant. I thought my work was too weird and too far out on the margins for someone to want to fund it,” she lamented.

In the past few years, Elissa has received fellowships and awards from major Washington State organizations including Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund, and Hugo House. She attributed much of the successful outcomes of her grant applications to the skills she gained from participating in Artist Trust’s EDGE Professional Development Program, which she enrolled in after completing her graduate studies.

“The EDGE program taught me how to present my work and its significance on paper, how to present myself as a professional, and how to delineate what I needed and why I should receive it,” Elissa explained. “I began receiving smaller grants to support my writing, and in 2016, I received the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award, $25,000 in unrestricted funds, in large part because of the professional presentation (on paper and in person) skills I gained from the EDGE program.”

Beginning this summer, Artist Trust is offering a series of professional development courses through Art Business Night School. Inspired by the content and curriculum of the EDGE Professional Development Program, Art Business Night School’s evening classes focus on teaching valuable, fundamental skills to help prepare participants for a career as an artist.

To learn more about Art Business Night School, read our blog post here.