Grant Season: An hour-by-hour writing log exposes one young artist’s battle with grant applications

Written by: Rachel Ganz

Is it a coincidence that grant season annually corresponds so painfully with the autumnal dying of the sun?  Or with the seasonal presence and therefore enthusiastic encouraged binge of single-bite chocolate bars?

Is it a surprise that Halloween always magically appears as a festive excuse to practice death right in the middle of every theatre artist’s PleasedToSeeYouAgainDeath! Grant marathon?

It isn’t as if asking for money is an activity that artists aren’t expected to do. Yet, every year when I’m challenged to do it I am overcome with feelings of shame, guilt, incompetence, anxiety, fear, discomfort, all the negatives, all the tiny little micro-emotions, all the nonsense my mind drowns itself in to prevent me from writing a very basic beckoning for compensation.

Problematically, I usually settle on the opinion that I’m not impressive enough to receive the money I’m asking for. I write for days to invent a certainty in myself, I get carried away with a brand new idea or new version of my old idea or a completely new model for theatre in general that will absolutely change the world.

Ultimately, a feeling of doubt and alienation prevails.

While I don’t have a solution to this problem, I do have an hourly log I can share with you.  I created this log so that I could track exactly why I wasn’t completing and sending in any of my applications.  Looking back on the day it becomes stupidly clear that I overestimate the person reading the application and underestimate myself.  BASIC YOUNG WRITER DUMMY DOING.

If you read through the log and recognize your own ramblings, it’s possible you’re doing the exact same thing.  I’m not saying we’re wrong in our assumptions.  We might be right.  But creating the assumptions blocks any of my applications from ever leaving my desk so, maybe it’s time for a change.

You tell me.  Read through the log, let me know.  It’s one of those things I wish I was already ten years past so I could look at it and tell “younger me” to just fucking relax.

October 14, 2016

Theatre Creator’s Reserve, Grant Application

(NOTE:  This application was being written regarding an adaptation of a piece of American Beat Literature)

8:00 AM — Can’t write thoughtfully because it feels like my thoughts aren’t linear enough to make “thoughtful” writing useful.  In attempt not to think, I’ve forgotten what the play is about entirely.  Is it about young people?  Or is it about young people right now?   Is it about this generation?   I don’t care about this generation….do I?  Will they think it’s too blah blah whiny young lady to write about my own generation as if we need shit that no one else needs.  This play is stupid.

9:00 AM– The play has to be about addiction.  We’re all addicted to technology and connection so, then, what if this play takes place in a world where people are addicted to hugs!  So then it’s funny.  The funnier I am the better.  Be funnier.  Just be really funny.  Nobody else will be funny.

10:00 AM– I’m not funny.


12:00 AM–A full page promising that my play will change my generation into a generation of theatre goers but I have absolutely no proof that I can actually do that and also I don’t have any writing sample at all.  WRITE AN ENTIRE PLAY?????? That can’t be what I’m supposed to do.  I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do.

1:00 PM–I’m giving up. I don’t need money.

3:00 PM–I can’t give up because no one else will give up and everyone says I have to do this so then just tell them the fucking show is about addiction but IT ISN’T ABOUT ADDICTION

4:00  PM–Spent an hour writing haikus about drugs

5:00 PM–BRAND NEW PROBLEM:  WHAT IS THE MONEY FOR? Do I need a dramaturg?  Workshops?  I don’t even have a fucking draft.  Is this money for me?  Why should I get money?  I don’t know what to ask for and I don’t know why they would give it to me.  Who is applying for this grant?  Do I compete?  This is art. Does art compete?  Is this art?  Does art make money? I don’t understand finance and I don’t understand why I’m being asked to prove I deserve something I don’t understand.  Goddamit Ganz stop thinking.

6:00 PM–I have a full application and I’ll fix the grammar in the morning but–I wrote it.

7:00 PM–It’s bullshit I’m never going to write this play.

8:00 PM–I’m not touching it because it’s possible I’m a genius but I’ve just forgotten because it’s been a long day.  I’m going to watch Panic Room and go to bed.


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