The Kaya Toast Mini-Mentorship is a little initiative I started in June 2021. Basically, I invite people to submit pitches for reported features or essays that they would like to write. If selected, I work with them to produce a reported feature or essay. There is no specific workshop/teaching programme; we simply start from whatever level of experience the individual has and work from there, learning through doing. If the final piece is a good fit for We, The Citizens, it can be published as a guest issue, for which there is an honorarium.
You can read more about my thought process behind this initiative here:
The first (experimental) round of this initiative led to two guest issues of this newsletter: an essay on faith, identity and social expectations, and a feature on the struggles of gig musicians during the pandemic.
Why Kaya Toast?
A friend suggested that it’s because we should “spread ideas like kaya”, which is very cute.
But if I’m being honest, since We, The Citizens already has Milo Peng Funders, I was looking for another Singapore breakfast-y thing and I didn’t want to call participants Soft-Boiled Eggers. 🥚
What do you mean by reported features or essays?
Reported features: A piece of longform journalism that uses interviews and sources to dive deeper into a particular event/issue. Such pieces aren't driven by the writer's personal views (although I believe the writer's views often inform the judgement calls they make in writing the piece), but are an exploration of an issue through different sources.
Examples of reported features published on We, The Citizens:
- "No End in Sight": Waiting for permission to return to Singapore
- WTC Long Read: How might Singapore be affected by Hong Kong's woes?
- WTC Long Read: A mother’s concerns in a time of POFMA
Note: The reported feature that we work on during this mini-mentorship need not — and likely will not — be as long as the long reads.
Essay: Such pieces are more clearly an expression of the writer's opinion/commentary/analysis. This doesn't mean that it requires less research or rigour!
Examples of essays published on We, The Citizens:
- What have we learnt from Singapore's largest humanitarian crisis?
- GE2020: "Hello, I am not your model minority." by Mysara Aljaru
Does this pay?
I can’t promise that your final piece will be published on We, The Citizens. But if I think the final product is a good fit, I’ll publish it as a guest issue and pay an honorarium of S$200.
If the piece doesn’t get published on We, The Citizens, I won’t be able to offer payment for it. But you’re welcome to pitch it elsewhere — and I’m happy to offer some basic tips about pitching, although I won’t be able to guarantee that it’ll be picked up, since that’ll be up to whoever you’re pitching to.
Similarly, you’re can choose not to have the piece published on We, The Citizens, and to take it elsewhere (maybe you’re writing for your own organisation, or you want to start your own blog, or you’d rather keep it private). In this case, I won’t be able to pay for the piece, either, but I’d hope you’ll have found the mini-mentorship process helpful!
Who should apply?
This initiative is open to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, education levels, nationality etc.
That said, I will prioritise applicants from communities that are less likely to have the space to tell their stories or have their voices heard. I'd like this initiative to be able to support minorities and marginalised communities to write about what matters to them, rather than be written about, as is so often the case elsewhere.
Since We, The Citizens is a newsletter focused on Singapore, I'm also only opening this to people in Singapore, writing about something happening in, or related to, Singapore. (This means: Singaporean diaspora welcome, as long as your pitch is related to Singapore!)
How to apply?
I've put together a simple application form that'll walk you through the elements of pitching a story for this initiative.
I'll be selecting entries based on the story, so you can also submit more than one application with a different story idea.
Applications are open on a rolling basis. I'll decide based on the strength of the pitch, but also on other factors like how much bandwidth I have at that point to work on the piece with you, and whether I can afford to pay the honorarium if your piece gets selected to be a guest issue of We, The Citizens.
If your pitch doesn't get picked up, you're welcome to revise it and try again next time.
What if I don't need a mentorship, but would like to pitch a guest issue?
Experienced writers who just want to pitch guest issues are welcome! Just to keep everything in one place, I'd ask that you also use the same form — but you can indicate that you don't think you need a mentorship process.
This sounds great! How can I help?
If you're not applying for this initiative but would like to support it, please consider becoming a Milo Peng Funder! Your subscription fee goes towards supporting my independent writing/civil society work, and helps me pay honorariums for guest issues.
If you'd like to offer more support beyond the Milo Peng Fund, you can make a donation via Ko-Fi.com.