Rachel Swearingen’s fiction has appeared in VICE, The Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Agni, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. Her story collection, How to Walk on Water and Other Stories, winner of the 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize, will be published in 2020. She is the recipient of the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (BA) and Western Michigan University (PhD-Creative Writing), she teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.
The Value of Support
"The Rona Jaffe Writers Award appeared during a turning point in my writing life. I had just finished graduate school and was trying to relocate, to find employment, and to finish a book. Like many writers, I had spent years learning to write, receiving rejections, and gradually getting published. To say that the news came as a shock would be an understatement. For a few months, I was overwhelmed with phone calls and e-mails from agents and editors. This energized my writing. For the first time, I knew what it was like to have someone waiting to read something I had written. But what was perhaps most unexpected was the feeling of being welcomed into the larger group of women writers. I’ve kept in touch with several of the other award winners I met that year and continue to read their work today. The monetary award allowed me to focus on my writing for two years, but the experience of the award, and the people I’ve met because of it, continue to sustain me today."