My dog Mortie leaping at birds was my metaphor for how writers feel when they apply for grants. You have to keep jumping with your eye on the ultimate prize: earning a living writing. The Canada Council had sent me a letter letting me know my project "Death on Track" was highly recommended by the jury but that they had run out of funds. Since that correspondence I've been sardonically muttering"well, we could have afforded that if the Canada Council hadn't run out of money" to every major imminently necessary expenditure: tuneup for the car, tooth implant, upgrade for the MacBook, new roof, even trip to the hairdresser.
Then on Monday another package from them arrived. Oh, great yet another survey to fill in to make us feel stupid for choosing the arts as a career. Somewhere there would be a bunch of boxes to check about income earned from royalties and the figure might be embarrassingly low, depending on what time of year it was and whether the publishers had finally mailed the cheque. Maybe I should just wait for that cheque to open the stupid survey.
I circled the coffee table and tried to ignore the big envelope. Junk mail, a happy bulletin perhaps about how all the other writers and artists were lolling on the beach with their CC funds. Joyful photos of artists receiving their prizes and medals, sipping champagne in front of a their paintings.
Oh what the heck, let's declutter and get rid of all the mail. The CC envelope was last to be opened.
Here's the first two lines:
You recently received a letter from the Canada Council for the Arts advising you that your grant application for the Grants to Professional Writers - Creative Writing program was highly recommended.
We are now pleased to advise you that your request will be funded.
"Oh my gawd!" I jumped up and down and called "Bob, Bob, Bob" (husband's name) "guess what!"
Because that doesn't make a great photo I thought I'd use my "granddog" this time. Warf is also the star of my latest book project. In it he plays the part of a talking dog Brownie, who grins and has dimples.
One of the grant conditions is that I must supply financial details on how I used the monies. Mortgage payments, subsistence, staying alive. But of course it may free up other income to accomplish the previously mentioned objectives. To all my fellow writers who did not have a good year or response to their application, I feel deeply sorry. The guilt of the granted.
But honestly, mostly, right now, I feel like a lucky dog.