Less than 10% of authors make their living solely from their writing.
The other 90+% of us make our living by other means, such as teaching creative writing courses, computer programming, law, carpentry, medicine, waiting tables, selling shoes etc.
And we also rely on grants.
In his time your humble blogger has both won grants and lost grants for his writing (for the record, like most writers, I’ve lost more grants than I’ve won).
Today the Ontario Arts Council grant application was due.
And unfortunately, I had forgotten all about the OAC’s February 15 due date (even though it was written in red ink on my Group of Seven kitchen calendar). That is, I had forgotten about it until round about 2pm this afternoon when a fellow writer sent me an email asking me if I had gotten my application in yet.
“Shit!” I said.
I knew I had to move fast.
Luckily I have applied to basically every bloody arts grant for which I’m eligible: The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, The Toronto Arts Council. And after years of applying and reapplying (and re-reapplying), I’ve become a bit of an old pro at the grant process. Actually, I was able to get today’s grant completed in about an hour (including print and photocopying time).
And fortunately I live just a short walk from the OAC office.
And it’s always fun to see the other folks who also waited until the last minute to get in their application. It’s kind of like the mall at 4pm on Christmas Eve. These folks always look harried, carrying an enormous envelope containing their application and five copies of our forty-page writing example.
“I always say I’m not gunna not wait until the last minute,” they always say as we share an elevator to the fifth floor.
Due to the Harper Conservative’s continual cuts to arts funding, there are now more and more artists fighting over less and less money (think of choreographers in a cage match with sculptors). So as I ride up to the fifth floor, I like to size them up these fellow writers I see also dropping off their application package. Are they really any competition? Any real competition, I tell myself, wouldn’t have waited to the last minute to get in their application. Real competition have their act together.
Yes, I know I’m late too… but I’m the exception, I like to think.
And now that my application is safely in the paws of the OAC, there is a four month wait until the results are announced. Of course by that time one has pretty much forgotten about the whole goddam thing until you receive either a terse letter telling you that you were not chosen and the results are ‘final’ (seriously, I know you were told by your lawyers to word these rejection letters this way… but lighten up a bit!) or you get a cheery (though also terse) letter requesting your social insurance number (grant money is taxed too of course!) explaining that you’ve won the grant you applied for and the cheque will be along shortly.
Getting the second sort of letter is better.
But you know, it’s not just for the money (which always helps since – contrary to popular belief – most artists are not living high on the hog) but also because a jury – one that knows something about writing – has decided that your writing is good… and your book/play/artwork should be pursued and completed.
A grant is a great motivator in that way.
But the money is good too.
Jeffrey, The Gay Groom