This past week I did something I’ve never done before. I sent off a grant application without running the pages by my critique group.
Please don’t think it was because I figured I didn’t need them any more. Au contraire, I felt a little anxious about putting those pages into the mail without a few writerly eyes other than mine going over them.
It just seems it’s been a weird and crowded spring and summer for all of us in the local writing group. Family crises, illness, planting season, travel and surgery and, oh, yes, adding a full-time job, have been some of the factors messing up the writing and critiquing schedules of myself and my group. Real experience is essential to writing, but it also takes up a lot of writing time! Is that a paradox, or what?
The upshot was that I didn’t get my forty pages for the grant submission chosen until six days before deadline. Then I spent some time polishing those pages, in amongst all the other stuff I had to do. By the time I had them more or less where I wanted them, it was my weekend, when I’d decided to get the darned thing printed out, put together and mailed. I got the application in, postmarked three days ahead of my usual absolute-last-minute norm, but without giving anyone else a chance to see it first.
I still had three days to the absolute deadline, but that wasn’t enough time to make the application significantly better. Each of those three days was a work day, meaning I’d have only an hour or so to work on the text. I have a great critique group – in a one-hour meeting, or a one-page email, they can set up a whole day’s work for me. (One memorable critique began, “You’ve chosen the wrong pages.” Thank goodness that was an application with a ten-page entry sample! I chose new pages. I got my grant.)
There’s good and bad to this. I have the application done and in, ahead of schedule. Whew. That’s good, because the fact is that I still have way more going on every day than I have day to do it in, and you can say the same for every week, too.
But the bad is that, for the first time, I’ve done this without the reliable help of an extra set of eyes or three. I’ve benefited enough from critiques to be aware that even a good writer and editor has blind spots when it comes to her own work. That makes me just a little anxious.
Done, however, is done, and I’m trying to follow the prayer Father Steve quoted in a comment on an earlier post. “It is night at the end of a long day. What has been done has been done. What has not been done, has not been done. Let it be.”
Whether or not I get this grant – or the one I applied for in May – is now out of my hands. I’ve done the best I could do with the resources I have. That’s really all anyone can do.