I’m down to my last two weeks of day job before my summer of writing. Almost every day someone at work asks me when my last shift is, or if I’m excited about the whole thing, or what I’m writing. Every now and then, someone says, “I wish someone would give me money to write!”
I’m pretty sure that most of the people who say this don’t really mean it, at least, not in the sense that I would mean it. First off, I’m not aware that any of them are writers, and in order to be given money to write, you have to be writing already. Second, I think that many people have the idea that writing isn’t real work, just as art isn’t real work, and that they, too, could write if someone paid them to do it. My grant looks like incredible luck to them. Hell, it looks like incredible luck to me!
When I said that on a forum I belong to, my friend Ted Remington replied, “No, you are a dedicated, hardworking slave of the Muses. Luck hadn’t a thing to do with it.”
The more I think about it, the more I realize he’s right. I started working seriously at my writing in 2007. That means I dedicated time every day to it, either to writing and editing my work, or to finding markets for it. One year I made over two hundred and fifty submissions of fiction and poetry, and landed twenty-five sales, which is a really good acceptance ratio. The next year I sold over seventy pieces of non-fiction, mostly newspaper articles.
Currently, in addition to holding a full-time job, I’m writing three humour pieces every month and working on the second book in the Swan Harp trilogy. I blog here and at Stories in the North and write a guest post every month for The Portable You. I’m also a contributor to Our Homes magazine.
I write in the car, on my laptop. I realize not everyone has the stomach for this; trying to read in the car makes my husband carsick. In that, I am lucky, and it’s made a world of difference to my ability to maintain my street cred as a writer.
I worked for this grant, and for every grant I’ve won. I developed a style and honed my tools. I found my story, as my friend Angie puts it, and I told the story. I told it six times over, the last time in one-hour stints in the car on the way to my day job. When the opportunity came to go for the grant, I was ready. Perhaps the most important thing is that getting the grant was not simply an end in itself, but a means to another end – going on writing.
As hard as I worked to get this grant, I’m going to work harder now that I have it. I plan to finish book two and perhaps even start book three. They gave me money to write, and damn, I’m going to write.
Just another hardworking, dedicated slave of the Muses.