I don't consider myself a lucky person. I don't play the lotto because I know my numbers won't be called. Games of chance never favour me, and random draws steer clear of my tickets.
Sometimes it feels as if grants for artists are just another form of lottery. With so many applicants, a large number of worthy projects get passed over. And we never know why. People who have received grants in the past make the list again. Writers lose out in favour of painters or film-makers take a back seat to sculptors. Or so it seems.
My rational brain tells me that applying for a grant is not a game of chance. A strong, compelling case for funding will result in support. So each time I've applied for funding and not been successful, I've looked at my application to see where I could improve. What more could I have told them?
When I decided to look for a mentor to help me finish my book, I knew I'd need some financial assistance. I chose Humber School for Writers, which costs $2,900 plus a few other small fees. After spending almost all of my disposable income for this year on Dorland and the writing conference, I had very little money left over for a mentor.
But I applied anyway, because I knew it wasn't a given that I'd be accepted. I had a back-up plan in case they turned me down, and I set about applying for grants to help pay for the tuition. I'd already been turned down for a Canada Council grant this year, so I tried the BC Arts Council. That application wasn't successful either, and I carefully considered what I could do to improve my chances when I submitted my third application to Access Copyright Foundation.
Never heard of them? They're fairly new. ACF got started in 2008, and they provide funding for Canadian publishable works. Not having to compete with other artists for a limited pool of money meant a bit better odds at receiving funding. So I crossed my fingers, hoping I'd made a compelling case for funding.
Last month, I found out that I got accepted to Humber and that my mentor will be Isabel Huggan. I immediately got two of her fiction books and started reading. Her first book, The Elizabeth Stories, was a series of linked short stories, and it won a fiction prize. I figured I was in good hands.
Still, I worried about paying the fees. I hadn't heard back from ACF yet, and I didn't relish the idea of paying off tuition one credit card minimum payment at a time. Yesterday, the granting gods aligned. For the first time, I received a grant to pursue my professional development. Hallelujah! It's enough to make me believe in fairy tales, in religion, even in the lottery.
While ACF didn't grant me the full amount I'd requested, they did offer to pay for a portion of the tuition fees. I'm so grateful to the organization for their support. Click on their logo to access their site and find out more. Maybe the granting gods will shine down on your grant request too!
A writer's journey