Recap: WriteGirl and DREAMing Out Loud Writers Share Their Voices at Annual Workshop

For almost as long as we’ve been publishing, Exposition Review has hosted our free “Share Your Voice!” workshop for emerging writers with the ultimate goal of publishing their work. During the pandemic, this has taken place online, which has enabled us to expand our guests to include not only WriteGirl teens and alums but students from PEN America’s DREAMing Out Loud program in New York.

This year, we gathered via Zoom on Sunday, April 3, to help participants find literary journals to fit their voices, polish their submission materials, and submit their work.

Hosted by co-Editor-in-Chief Annlee Ellingson, the workshop included presentations on finding the right home for your work by Fiction Editor Anya Johnson; the ins and outs of writing bios and cover letters by co-EIC Mellinda Hensley (spoiler alert: keep it simple and don’t freak out!); setting “SMART” goals and preparing to submit your work by Annlee; managing rejection by Anya (heads-up: there’s a lot of it!); and promoting your writing when it does get accepted by Flash Fiction Editor Jessica June Rowe.

A new addition to the agenda this year was special guest Sofía Aguilar—an alum of the workshop, Expo contributor, avid submitter, and current editor Mag 20/20, an online magazine dedicated to creatives in their twenties, she brought a fresh point of view to the discussion.

Here are just a few quotes from her interview: 

My first line is always ‘Thank you.’ You can never say thank you enough: I say it when I submit, when I get rejected, when I get accepted. People like to be appreciated. They are putting in the work … and I do want to recognize that, so I always start with ‘Thank you for this opportunity.’

– On cover letters

At first I really took it personal. I was so young starting out, and you know, it’s very hard to separate your personal self and professional self. … Now, I always delete the rejections. I don’t wanna look back at rejections. … Don’t give up, be kind to yourself, and move on.

On handling rejection

Then came the best part: we invited the WriteGirl and DREAMing Out Loud participants to submit their work to Exposition Review for consideration in our forthcoming Vol. VII: “Flux” issue. We are so excited to publish some of their work later this spring!

WriteGirl is a Los Angeles-based creative writing and mentoring organization that matches girls and nonbinary teens with women and nonbinary writers who mentor them in creative writing. With 200 volunteers serving more than 500 teens annually, every year the organization produces dozens of workshops, panel discussions, and special events to help girls get creative, get through high school, and get to college.

Here’s more about WriteGirl.

DREAMing Out Loud is PEN America’s tuition-free creative writing workshop series for young immigrant writers, primarily those who are undocumented, DACA recipients, and/or DREAMers who came to the United States when they were children. By providing community and professional support to the next generation of immigrant writers, the program seeks to counter anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. and to amplify the voices of many living in this country who are marginalized because of their immigration status.

Here’s more about DREAMing Out Loud.