The Joy of Grant Writing

“What could you possibly enjoy about writing a grant application?”

This was the question posed to me by a friend and colleague who has not only written her share of grant applications, but also sat on a few committees who are tasked with the job of wading through hundreds of applications.  A daunting thing, I’m sure. 

When I told her that I had actually enjoyed the recent process I’d been through, she seemed stunned.

I’ve written my share of grant applications over the years. One or two were actually successful, which is not a bad record for almost 20 years as a theatre artist, certainly when you consider the sheer number of artists who apply under each program every year.  In the past, I absolutely dreaded writing an application.  All I could think was, “there’s no WAY I’m getting this.  Everything I write sounds like utter crap.  I’m an untalented, undeserving amateur who doesn’t stand a chance.”  And when the rejection letter would turn up, my sense of self-doubt would be justified.  Not something I was terribly thrilled to go through.

I don’t want to jinx anything by getting into the specifics of the particular grant I’ve just applied for (I still have some superstitions)– and for the purposes of this blog post, it really doesn’t matter.  

The point is - what I found at the end of the almost three-week process was that I had actually (for the most part) enjoyed it.  Yes, it was a lot of work; a lot of writing and re-writing, and fretting and gnashing of teeth.  It became an almost full-time job, when I consider the hours spent.  The Eeyore in me popped up from time to time and chimed in with, “If I’m unsuccessful, it means I’ve once again been relegated to the realm of the Volunt-artist.”

When I finally hit the “submit” button on the online form I felt a surprising sense of calm.   There is a great deal of power in the act of submission.

Sitting down to write a grant required that I reflect on the turn that has occurred in my life and it was an incredibly rewarding thing to do.  The last four years have gone by in such a whirlwind.  I honestly never imagined that I would be a painter.  It seemed so far outside of my realm. 

I have been attempting to practice gratitude and starting each day by writing down three or four things that I’m grateful for, which requires a moment of reflection on the present; to simply appreciate what is here and now.  I have felt, in the writing of this recent grant application, a great flood of gratitude.  And whether or not this application is successful, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on where I am right now and to be filled with gratitude for what has come before.  There was a sense of celebration, which was very surprising.  I found myself thinking, “if I can have done this much in four years… who knows where the next four will take me?”

In a time of great negativity and pessimism, to have come to that conclusion is a marvellous thing.

The practice of gratitude is something I would encourage everyone to try.

And so – I take a moment to thank all the people who encouraged me to apply in the first place, have helped in the process, provided a sounding board, and corrected my atrocious spelling and grammar:  Jennifer Wigmore, Jon Patterson, Rebecca Northan, Matthew Aitken, Julia Mackie, Dirk Van Stralen, Nancy Kenny, and a host of others who listened to me ramble on about where I’ve been and where I’d like to go.  Heck, I’m even grateful for the folks who shook their heads and said things like, “you don’t stand much of a chance” – because it sheds a light of reality on the situation and reminds me that we live in a pessimistic time and that we must carry our own light.  Today, my light will be one of gratitude.