Sometimes, I want to give up. Not on life, but on some of the things that make life hard. The things that get in the way of reaching for and achieving those goals. Do you ever feel that way?
Take the application I recently completed. I applied for a grant for emerging artists because I really want to get my children’s book illustrated and out to the world. I have a friend who has been illustrating the book. I want to pay her for her work, get the book bound/published and share it with little kids so they can learn about their feelings.
I first learned about the application last year. After the deadline. Hard thing number one: reminding myself to wait (as patiently as possible) for the following year when the grant application process opened up again.
Right before it opened in January of this year, I printed out the old paper application, filled in my name, etc. on the first page and laid it on my writing desk. Every time I wrote or cleaned off my desk, I looked at that stack of papers and reminded myself I would apply when the submission window opened up again. The week before January first, I set an alarm on my cell phone for the first Saturday. When it went off, I opened the website in my browser and printed off the current paper application.
Then I did nothing for a while except read through the application instructions.
At the beginning of February, I texted my sister (who is a master at grant writing) and asked her to set up some time for the following weekend to chat about how I should go about applying. Because let’s face it, I had a million questions.
I also started drafting some of the writing pieces needed for the application (Hard part number two). A resume that touted my creative artwork, an artist’s statement, and a description of the activities I would need to complete to get the project done were also drafted.
After I spent a lovely Sunday chatting with my sister (I <3 her!), I had a lot of my questions answered and even came up with a few more questions. I sent her my drafts and waited for the feedback. Then, I went back to the website to read through the process a little more. When I realized the online application submission process was easier, I decided to go that route. Otherwise, hard part number three would have been ordering toner for the printer, going to the post office…ugh. Not interested in that.
As usual though, technology decided to fight against me and my goal to submit this application. I had to save word documents as PDFs. Figuring out how to do that became hard part number four. I had to figure out how to upload videos that I directed onto Youtube (hard part number five). And then how to get the perfectly configured Youtube URL to go into the persnickety field on the application (hard parts number six through ten because it constantly rejected my URL).
I had to ask for help from my husband.
And not shout obscenities at him every time the link wouldn’t take (hard part number eleven). Because even though I love him to the moon and back for not leaving me when I get irritable about computer problems, I still want to swear in his presence when things like this don’t work.
Eventually, it all worked out. All the documents saved as PDFs. The youtube URL emerged from the bowels of cyberspace and the grant application gods received it as one of their own. I did not swear at or around my husband and asking for help was a blessing because, as usual, he fixed the tech problems. He’s so smart.
The hardest part of it all, though? Not giving up. Finding the courage deep within myself to apply for the grant in the first place. Which meant not giving up. Ever. Not through the waiting of several months for the submission window to open. Not through the challenges of finding the standard industry format for screenplays (did I mention how searching for that took up an entire morning’s worth of writing time?) and then copying/pasting two of my non-industry formatted screenplays. I hadn’t even realized there was a standard industry format.
The goal through it all has been to face my fear of rejection and denial. I mean, it’s quite possible that through all of that hard work that I won’t get a dime from the grant program. If that happens, will all that work have been for naught?
I don’t think so. I’m not saying it won’t hurt a little if that happens. It will. I’m not saying I won’t be disappointed if I get nothing. I will.
It’s just that I still think it will be worth it. I think it will be worth the questions, the frustration, the learning about youtube links, all of it. The whole kit and caboodle. It’ll be worth it because I didn’t give up even when I wanted to.
Yes, I wanted to give up a time or two. The time my writing time was eaten up by grant application steps and having gotten up at 4:30 in the morning to write felt extremely unproductive; I wanted to give up. The time I spent a solid hour trying to figure out how to get the stupid URL to fit whatever criteria the grant application expected; I wanted to give up.
I even told my husband I wanted to give up. I said the words out loud because it was important to me to voice my feelings. I’m learning to be more aware of my feelings and less afraid of them. That’s a whole other blog for a whole other time.
My husband told me not to give up. My sister encouraged me. She texted me one day with feedback on my submission drafts and told me she was proud of me. That helped me a lot. She was proud of me whether I got the grant award or not. My husband researched youtube URLs and dealt with my snarky attitude with grace and kindness. Whether I got the grant award or not.
So I didn’t give up. I decided I was an inspiration to me for not giving up. For plugging ahead. For asking for clarification on application instructions when I wanted to be absolutely sure I was doing everything as it was required.
In the end, I turned in my application six days ahead of my self-imposed deadline. Six days early. On Valentine’s Day. It was a gift to me. Whether I get the grant award or not.