I did it! I have submitted my application for the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University (the deadline is December 1, 2011 with a $60 application fee, click here for more information). I am so excited about the possibility of being selected. Last year, 1,900 people applied and only ten applicants were accepted (five in poetry and five in fiction). For the longest time, I debated whether or not I should apply, but heck, I only have one life—why not? Who would turn down the opportunity to live in Palo Alto, California for two years with an annual stipend of $26,000 to write? However, moving to California would definitely be a CHANGE for me. For my entire life, I have lived in Baltimore, MD—I didn’t go away for college nor for graduate school, so I think I am ready to see the rest of the country, although it can be a bit frightful to leave what is familiar. But in order to grow, you have to step outside of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone can become a trap. You can become frightened to try new things, and I won’t let fear hold me back. Back to the Stegner application—I spent several days working on the statement of plans. I figured since the process is so competitive I wanted to make sure I adequately expressed why I want to become a Stegner fellow. I mentioned my writing plans and career goals: writing a second short story collection and teaching creative writing on the collegiate level. I’m not going to lie, when I read the bios of the past fellows, I felt a bit intimidated, especially if I saw a person with numerous publications in well-known literary journals. However, you shouldn’t compare yourself with others. You can only be yourself. Don’t ever count yourself out; you never know when it will be your turn to shine.