Taking for granted

In the last few months I’ve applied to several granting programmes. Here in Ontario there are two provincially-funded ones I can apply for, and one federally-funded one, and I’ve gone for them all.

Canada Council is a hotly-contested, national grant for professional writers of all levels. Because I had a second book published in 2012, I am no longer an emerging writer, but a mid-career writer. I’m entitled to ask for up to $25,000 in support of my writing, as opposed to the lower limit emerging writers can apply for. The deadline for that, for English writers, is October 1 every year. This will be my fourth application, none of them, so far, successful. Still, I keep trying, because you can’t win if you don’t apply.

I also apply annually to Writers’ Reserve, a programme funded by the Ontario Arts Council. This is a long-deadline, annual competition, adjudicated by small publishers in Ontario. Eligible writers can apply anytime from September 1st to January 31st, although I’d recommend early application. There are thirty-nine publishers this year; not all of them will be appropriate for your work, but this year I applied to seven of the thirty-nine. The grants range in size from a minimum of $1500 to a maximum of $5000. Again, this is one I apply to every year. So far I’ve had a grant every year, but this year the publisher who funded me in other years has retired, so I’m not sure what my chances are. Still, I keep applying, because I might not get anything if I do, but I definitely won’t if I don’t.

This year I’m eligible again for Writers’ Works in Progress. I won this grant in 2012, which disqualifies me for two years. As I can apply again – you guessed it, I have. Works in Progress is a $12,000 grant for book-length works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Graphic novels are also included in this grant. There are four deadlines in a year, and you can apply for alternate ones. I like to apply for the Northern Ontario deadlline, which is in December, and then the regular, all-Ontario deadline in June. The Northern deadline this year is for works postmarked by December 5th, so there’s still a little time to enter.

One of the reasons I apply for the Northern Ontario deadline is that it is, yes, a smaller field with a better statistical chance of success. But even if it weren’t, I’d still apply, because it’s important for large centres like Toronto to see that there are professional, accomplished writers who are not in Southern Ontario. We need to apply to show that the grant is still worthwhile in terms of funding eligible work. Before the Northern Ontario deadline was established, the number of successful WIP applicants north of Parry Sound was negligble. Many lists of grant recipients didn’t include even one northern writer.

Even though I’ve applied for grants for years, now – and been successful eight times – I still suffer all the physical effects of nerves every time I prepare and mail an application. My hands shake and sweat, I feel anxious, and I’m incredibly relieved when (after I’ve quadruple-checked every page) I mail the dratted thing. It’s out of my hands. Now I can only wait. Wish me luck.

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