Cover Letter
Dear Iceland Writers Retreat,

I'm writing to you to ask for partial funding to an Iceland Writers Retreat 2024.

To be honest, I started my writing path a long time ago but only a few years ago I realised that it's not just a hobby for me and started to take it seriously.

I always say that "I write because I just can't not do this."

My first self-published book was issued in 2020. And it was a point where things have changed. I mean not unexpected fame, but my state of mind. I felt like it was my calling.

Writing retreats here, in Russia, it's a rare thing. Despite the fact I live in Saint-Petersburg, the most artistic city here. Especially during the war. A lot of great writers are in forced immigration now (I also had to live almost the whole 2022-2023 in Georgia, Turkey, Asia and other places). But we still have a spirit and a voice. It becomes stronger with each new difficulty.

For the past two years I have also write in English too and have succeeded in it. This summer alone I have five publications in English-language magazines. I have to confess that this is so inspiring and feels-like-I'm-in-a-right-way. In the future, I plan to write primarily in English.

I think now I'm ready for a proper writing international event and I do want IWR to be my first. Dream big, you know?

I feel that my writing style fits perfectly to the Retreat's 2024 theme. I know that during the event I will know and learn a lot of new stuff that I can't find anywhere else. Or make some fateful meetings, who knows. It'll be inspiring and priceless anyway.

Talking about financial opportunities. Generally there is no big money in the publishing industry here, in Russia. There are a few independent publishing houses and communities, but mostly they can't even afford to pay for an opencall's winners. I talked with a few organisations, but there are no open grants now.

For now I can't cover both the participation fee and all other expenses. I live alone and work as an editor in IT, and now earn about 1 200€ per month. It's low, I know. It's because of the currency exchange rate. Now rubles (russian local currency) are twice cheaper. I mean the same amount was around 2 400€ two years ago.

It's hard to travel for me these days, but I'm not giving up. So, that's why I ask for partial funding. I can find the money for plane tickets, staying and other things.

I know Iceland and prices there well. I've been there in 2018 and 2021, right before war has started. For sure, I need to apply for a visa, but I think it'll be easier with a supporting letter.

With great pleasure I'll do the media interviews during the Retreat and help to spread the word around our local writing community, which includes thousands of amazing writers. To inspire and support them. I also want to make a few articles for Aviasales (the main travel project in and outside Russia) and for MIF (one of our biggest publishing house). And I'm sure that a lot of more ideas I'm not aware of yet will come to my mind during the event.

As examples of my writing I'm sending you two my favourite new pieces. The first story "Slow & Loud" won an essay competition in September this year (out of 350 submissions), and was published by Burning Hut. And the second one I wrote during my trip to Seoul this Spring.

Hope, you'll find it worthy.

Lena Shumnaya
Writing Samples
I'm 28. In October, on my birthday, I fly to Iceland. Almost the entire week passes on the road along winding fjords through stormy wind, rain, and double rainbows.

Sigur Rós plays on repeat in the car.

In Reykjavik, I go to an old record store and buy two albums at once—all that was in stock.

Every time I hear Gong, I want to cry.
A subway pulls me and a couple of dozen other passengers to Incheon Airport.

Outside the window, there was nothing but a blurred picture. Everything merges into a yellow streak of light.

I yearn even before I've left the city. Spending a week in Seoul was enough to add another item to the list of countries-where-I-could-feel-happy.
P. S. Publications in Foreign Zines
Digital Violence
MOMO Issue 5, January 2024

In progress
Vernacular online zine

What I Should Kill Next
The White Noise online zine, DEFIANT issue. Editor's picks.

Attempt to Life
The Daylight Zine, PEEL issue (print).

Cash Desk
The Creative Zine, SPRING 2023 issue.