I’m sorry for blogging about clearing my desk yesterday.

When I began this blog I vowed never to blog nonsense.

I was just so relieved to see so many projects like the travel grant and other various applications completed and neatly piled in a set of oversize envelopes that I succumbed to talking when I felt I had nothing important to say.

I was also exhausted. Emotionally, physically, mentally, you name it. Ploughing through last week’s one hundred and nine applications really took a toll on me. Maybe I didn’t realize I was spouting nonsense.

And since I had promised myself I would blog every day and not be like those who start out strong and fizzle, I went ahead and blogged even when I could hardly keep my eyes open.

I won’t make that mistake again. When I have nothing constructive to say, I’ll say nothing. There’s nothing more annoying than mindless chatter!

Today I visited a school I hadn’t been to before. The teacher librarian said that she’d been seeing my brochure every year and she saw the evolution of my package from flyer to full colour insert on Big Red Lollipop.

I didn’t tell her that my publisher Viking paid for the full colour one!

I’m such a terrible marketer.

I think most very creative people are.

It takes one set of mind skills to be able to create, creatively and it seems it takes another to be able to market creatively, and never the twain shall meet.

I know a brilliant guy, he can do things with video editing and shooting that boggles my mind, and yet for years he was barely scraping by with the odd assignment here and there.

He’s the ideal candidate for government grants but when I first approached him, he’d assumed that grants were only given to good ole’ boys.

And yet I’ve also met ‘artists’, I hesitate to even use the word, who are so dependent on grants that it amounts to a sort of artistic ‘welfare’.

One of them, and incredibly bright, articulate, attractive lady, talked about how it wasn’t ever necessary for her ‘artwork’ to ever get published because she received $60,000 a year in grant money, regularly. She bragged that she was an expert at writing grant proposals! Where was the incentive to actually have people ‘consume’ her art?

I was shocked at her blase attitude. And my respect for her was diminished.

I actually believe in the old stereotype of the ‘starving artist’. When people are that desperate, they work harder to pull out something that’s truly original and creative from deep within themselves. In the early years, without my husband’s ‘patronage’ there was no way I would have survived as an artist.

Perhaps it was that coupled with the idea that I wanted to contribute to the public dialogue, I wanted to insert a different, Muslim perspective, to the social consciousness, that made me so hungry to get published that I weathered all the slings and arrows and persevered when others fell by the wayside.

What if I had just settled for suckling at the teat of Government arts grants?

I’m sure it could have been lucrative.

If I could learn to write books, surely I could learn to write good grants.

So many times I applied in order to go somewhere to do research but was inevitably turned down.

I kind of gave up on grants. I figured the time it took to write a good grant, and the amount of creative energy involved, could be better used to write a good book that would give me an additional publishing credit and hopefully a nice advance that would provide the cash for research I needed anyway.

I’ve used many an advance to pay for the research of another book.

And now, I almost find the fact that I didn’t get good at writing grant applications comforting after meeting that professional grant artist.

I have received Writer’s Reserve grants. These are small amounts, $1500, that allow you to work on a project. A publisher recommends you for them. I’ve received a number of them and with the last one I went to South Dakota to do some research on Lakota history and my hero, Crazy Horse.

The grant  wasn’t quite enough to cover my expenses, but it sure helped. When I went to Jordan, after going on the mini-pilgrimage to Mecca (umrah) it was to research a historical novel I’ve been dreaming about for thirty-two years. I paid for the trip from the advance for Coming to Canada/A New Life.

Right now Canada is being ruled by a bunch of rubes out of the prairies who really look down their noses at us artistic types. They don’t seem to get art and culture and if they had their druthers would cancel all the Arts grants completely.

In a way I can understand why, but at the same time…I shiver at the thought.

Grants are necessary for some artists to survive. The ‘pure’ kind of artists, if there is such a thing.

 The only Canada Council grants I’ve ever received was a travel grant to South Africa to present at the IBBY congress. That one event really opened doors for me! In fact it was directly responsible for getting me invited to the American Library Association convention in New Orleans.

I guess grants can be investments into the artists that can pay dividends in the future, as long as they’re not used as a sort of Artistic welfare.

But making sure they’re not abused…ay, there’s the rub.