Monday, 22 February 2010
Well, I will natter a bit about this lovely grant I have been awarded, from Arts Council England, funded by The National Lottery.
I often looked at individuals awarded these grants, and wondered all sorts of things - How? Why? What? When? and Where? mostly. What were they spending this money on? Was it pints of cider down the pub while drowning their sorrows at not being able to write today?
Now I know – so I can pass it on. Every penny has to be very carefully planned. Your activity needs to be set out in a very detailed proposal, which covers what you would like to do, why, how it will benefit you, and the public (that’s a hard one to answer!), and how it will be funded. You must set out in minute detail what funds you are asking for, and also the funds you will be supplying yourself via various means. This is a must. Including help in kind. If awarded, each of the pennies must be accounted for, exactly as the proposal.
So – if you are expecting pints of cider, they need to be requested up front, and just may not get a grant…. (!)
Here you go – this is my What.
My grant is to fund working with an experienced novelist. She will act as sounding board and mentor, while I polish and reshape the first draft of the novel. I am lucky to be working with Maggie Gee , a novelist whose own work I enjoy for lots of reasons. But in the context of this activity, it is her clarity of structure that draws me. As well as her themes – her seeking to make sense of things through her work… if that makes sense to anyone out there!
What I love about the conversations we’ve had so far, is the understanding that this is my piece of work. That I am in the driving seat. And for a novelist whose last novel is called My Driver that seems rather appropriate. I’m about to send my first draft – with all the issues I have picked up over the last fortnight… voice issues, bagginess issues, structural issues, aaaagh… to this lady. I have ironed out the inadvertent wifeswappings and home removals discovered in the last two weeks.
The list of questions I’m sending is almost as long as the novel!
Maggie was featured in The Guardian last weekend…HERE in pre-publicity for her forthcoming memoir, My Animal Life – an account of her life as a writer. This comes out in March and I am bloody lucky that she is finding the time to work with me. Here’s the Amazon page for My Animal Life.
And here’s what Claire Tomalin has to say about this book:
'Exceptionally interesting and brave - Maggie Gee's account of her life as a writer cuts to the bone as she relives triumphs, rejections, despair and renewal. It's a wonderful book, for its boldness and vigour, and for its piercing honesty.' Claire Tomalin
So, there you are. This is what I am being funded for -working with this amazing writer. Oh - and - eight days stay at Anam Cara Writers and Artists Retreat, in Ireland, to break the back of the work, later on. Any questions, fire away!