Each time I write a grant, I learn something new. The grant I just submitted was written over a two week period and it included a 40 page narrative and all the ancillary pieces, it was not a small project.
I sit this afternoon before my computer pondering what to blog. It occurs to me that perhaps there’s a connection with a short story I read last night, Edgar Allen Poe’s “Angel of the Odd.” I suspect that this very Angel showed up and made my life difficult over the past two weeks. In the story, Poe, in reading numerous accounts of odd tragedies befalling people, decided that these stories were simply fictions created to sell papers. In so thinking, Poe offended the “Angel of the Odd” who paid him a visit to set him straight and who designed for some odd circumstances to befall Poe who came to believe in the end that Odd things did happen and that the stories were real.
My Odd circumstances started on a Monday morning, the first of what was to be 14 days of grant writing. I was primed, rested, ready to start writing. My plan was to put my head down and make a dent in the narrative that morning. I sat in my old Honda Civic waiting for the green light when suddenly I was rudely rammed into the intersection from behind amidst a thundering crash.
This odd situation got even stranger when I looked into the rear-view mirror to see the villain, who had attempted to park in my trunk at high speed, back up from under my car and pull around me to make a right turn, drive up the street, and then disappear in a crossing alleyway.
I was outraged at the scoundrel leaving me behind and not caring a whit whether I was breathing or passing on to my final reward; so I tried to follow him. But my car would not roll as the tires rubbed loudly under the frame: my little car was fatally injured.
The chain of events that followed the commission of the crime kept me from writing a word until nearly noon time. Even as I finally sat down to write, my head spun with the odd reality of my new situation. I was 25 miles from home without a vehicle, I needed to ride the bus home, I needed to do battle with insurance companies, I faced the likelihood this man had no car insurance; these and a thousand other thoughts kept me from concentrating on my narrative until the next morning.
Writing a grant is mentally exhausting enough. The hit and run driver totaled my car and imposed a whole set of odd circumstances upon me. These included the additional 3 hours a day to my commute, the physical pain of the crash, the mental uproar of being in an accident and all the details attached to that (police, insurance, doctors, concerned friends and family) None of these things changed the fact that I had a grant to write.
As Poe learned, Odd things happen in an instant. But in spite of unwelcome visits by the Angel of the Odd, a grant writer can’t allow life to intervene. It’s not a job that allows one to take sick leave while the work sits in an “In Box.” Grant deadlines do not wait.
What did I learn from this grant? I learned when a grant deadline is imminent; I simply need to suck it up and get the work done.
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Photo Credit - Simona Dumitru