In my younger days I was a wrestler and later a wrestling coach; I must confess that I was a lot better at the latter than the former. These days I only wrestle with grant narratives but it’s almost as draining and there are actually a lot of similarities.
The Take Down – In wrestling you start on your feet in round one and you’re pretty fresh. In grant writing you start on your feet too. You’re optimistic and not winded yet, you start by testing your opponent, in this case the RFP. You grapple a little, do some hand fighting, figure out some angles of attack and see if you can take your opponent down.
The Ride – Let’s say you are unfortunate and your opponent takes you down to the mat. Their job is to keep you there and not allow you to escape. The RFP can make you feel that way sometimes because a lot of times it sounds like you’re being asked to repeat the same information over and over again. Well this isn’t really true, it is usually a matter of being asked to give bits of details in a sequential manner. But when the RFP has got you down, it is sometimes hard to figure out how to get away from it.
The Escape or Reversal – If you keep studying your opponent and keep on moving from the bottom, you can often find a way to escape or to reverse him. Just like an RFP has the secrets to winning the grant if you keep studying it, you’ll find ways to escape the confusion and reverse your fortunes if you keep moving through the RFP. You can use what you learn about your opponent to write a narrative that brings you victory, but if you stop moving, you'll probably get pinned.
The Tilt – Once you’ve escaped the confusion or reversed your position and now are master of the RFP, you can begin to finish it off. You’ve now got control of the details, you understand all the angles, you know what you have to do to win. You can now grind that RFP down and write a winning grant so get ready for the pin. Now is the time to start tipping your opponent over and finish it off.
The Pin – The ultimate victory in wrestling is to turn your opponent over and pin their shoulders to the mat against their will. This is the coup-de-gras in wrestling. You want to excerpt that level of mastery over the RFP, pin it to the mat and don’t let it up. The match is over when the referee slaps the mat and hollers “PIN!", then you get up in victory to get your arm raised and shake the hand of your opponent.
Writing a good narrative requires wrestling with the RFP, wrestling with the narrative, and ultimately outlasting your opponents just like a wrestling match. You have to use skill, intelligence, technique, and it takes a lot of endurance. You better be in shape and you better know your stuff or you’re bound to end up on your back.
Photo Credit - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethcanphoto/