The Grant that Wasn’t

This past January, I applied for a small grant to work with veterans, helping them come to grips with their lives through journaling. The exercises were going to be from the book I’m writing, Write Yourself Whole.

Writing a grant is an art and a science, one with which I have little experience. A kind person who had recommended that I apply read my drafts and made suggestions. It was helpful.

This flower is persistent, climbing up a fence every spring. I love this backlit vision.

This flower is persistent, climbing up a fence every spring. I love this backlit vision.

Today was the day Kosmos Journal announced the receivers of the grants. I did not receive one. I am not disappointed. Yes, of course I would have loved to be a winner, but I do not feel like a loser. I worked hard on the proposal, I was proud of the idea, and that brought a great deal of satisfaction. After the application was sent in, I had a feeling of non-attachment. I did not mark the announcement day in my calendar.

The winners were organizations with a lot of experience in community work and activism. A lot of good will come from these projects. People will be helped. How can I not be thrilled for all the help being offered?

I do not believe in “this was meant to be,” predestination, or the phrase, “This is all part of God’s plan.” I’m not good at sitting around waiting for a deity to take care of me.

I’m glad I applied. The work I am doing will continue. Nothing is lost. One of the things I have learned over my life is that resilience is an important component of creativity. Mistakes, loss, missing the mark, failing–all are part of a rich life, deeply explored. They don’t always feel good, but they always teach us something–even if it is the energy to get up again and try again.

-Quinn McDonald has a lot of work to do. New plans are already in the works.



14 thoughts on “The Grant that Wasn’t

  1. oh,wow! It is such a happy coincidence for me to revisit your blog and read this..I remember making a comment some time back about how you’ve helped me and you said “Take Notes and see what works”,or something close to that.It really helps.
    I am have been in a deep learning process about some terrible things about my childhood and it has helped me in many ways to come here and read about how you manage life with your amazing skills that you’ve developed in yourself.I would love to read your book..It has really only been in the last couple years that I’ve written.I could never do it before because my sister ended her life due to the same stuff in our childhoods and trying to read her many notebooks was so overwhelming when I was 19 yrs.old,so I would never keep a journal nor write…If I had been able to make those connections earlier,it would have been much easier..

    I’m sorry for the length of this..and worry that it is too burdensome to read in some way..I mostly just want to cheer you on with your book dream!! Thank you so much!!

    • Thank you for this generous sharing of what must a hard time in your life. I’m so sorry about your sister–that must have been incredibly hard. And yes, the book is meant exactly for your experience. No long comment that is heartfelt is ever burdensome to read.

  2. I’ve been on a grant committee and it’s hard to decide which proposals of all the great proposals you read should get the money. One thing another committee member told me is that writing proposals is good practice to eventually get a grant, so your effort was not useless, and there was nothing extra you could have done. It’s not predestination or God’s will, but someone else’s decision based on whatever that year’s proposals will meet a specific goal. Hope that another time, your work is what they are looking for.

    • Depends on what you mean by “in charge.” In the case of the grant and who gets one, the selection committee is in charge. They have free will to use their own decision-making skills, based on the application rules they chose.

  3. I have a lot of the same impulses as you when I apply for grants. I am so busy, I don’t even have the time to keep track of when they notify about who won. Sometimes, they never notify (in rare cases). But I still feel a pang of disappointment when my project is not selected. It feels like I will have to keep thinking about funding for my project instead of moving onto the meat of it.

    The time it takes to apply for grants probably helps me hone my project goals, but it also takes away from time I could be creating photographs. Reading that even my favorite photographers who have become successful in photography are finalists for grants but are rarely chosen just drives home the point about how competitive grants can be.

    It’s hard to create something new when it seems like you’re the only one interested in the outcome. It’s hard to stay focused when you’re only doing something because you think it’s the right way to move forward. So I must admit, although I’d like to move on immediately after I hear of being rejected for yet another grant, it does knock me down briefly.

    • You probably know better than anyone, Willow, that a creative life is filled with moments of rejection, turn-downs, and even failure. You get to be knocked down briefly. Even longer. But the important part is getting up again. Trying again. Particularly when the meat of your project depends on trying again. The creative life is not an easy one, but it is the only one we want to live.

  4. Quinn, What a great opportunity you experienced in the field of grant application. A skill set that only gets more refined and excellent with practice. Those re-writes and honing the words to topic are never lost exercises. We who follow your blog and those who read your books, are coached by you or take classes from you will all be recipients of the gifts and lessons you received from the process. So glad you took the time to reach out into a new arena for you. Bravo

  5. Thank you for applying for a Kosmos Seed Grant. I personally read your proposal with interest. We ultimately chose projects with a focus on transforming the next generation. Your work is vital also. Keep going!
    Rhonda Fabian, Digital Editor Kosmos

    • It’s not surprising you would take the time to stop by and join in the discussion. I was completely delighted by the Detroit “rent a tool library” entry–a way to take the simple act of lending someone a lawnmower and turning it into a community project. I will continue my work. It’s what I know how to do, it’s where my heart is, and there is a lot of work to be done. Thanks for joining in!

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