I got the grant!! Through the application, hearing, and acceptance processes, I managed to remain level-headed, reminding myself that nothing was real until I held the check in my hand. Well, yesterday was that day.

I sat down with the check (which ballparks well under the sticker price of a whole car, but is plenty enough to buy myself groceries for a few months!) and let the enormity of the moment wash over me. I spent some quiet time, holding the check and thinking about how much it means to me that these grant people believe in my work. They believe in my writing.

This is the start of something big.

It has nothing to do with how well I’ll perform, or how the project will turn out. I’m not going to psyche myself out over the work at hand. I can do it. Simultaneously, this is not the first time someone has believed in me. I certainly believe. And you, blogfans, I know you believe. Er, at least you’re willing to come along for a spell.

A couple others have believed along the way. I remember leaving my cushy D.C. job for the sunny skies of Minnesota so I could write the first book. My boss wished me well. He believed—though he didn’t want me to go. He wanted his office to run smoothly, with me at my desk, so he asked me what my parents thought of this venture. They would surely talk sense into me, right? I told him, “They’re on board.”

My boss feigned surprise and knew the jig was up. My parents’ blessing came because I have a 4-year degree in fiction and poetry-writing. (There’s a sentence you don’t write every day!) I remember saying, “If I told my family I’m embarking on an opera-singing career, they’d be worried. But writing? I have an expensive degree that I’m about to start using. They believe I can do it.”

This is the same boss who once asked me, “You’re going to Vegas for March Madness? What do your parents think about this?” (You see the pattern here, eh?)

And it was about those same parents that I got to say, “They’re sending me a suitcase.”suitcases

That’s belief. Every time I come up with a crazy idea for a new writing venture, my parents send me a suitcase. I now have two well-worn sets. And my former boss–whom some of you know as the inspiration behind Mr. Watters in Upside Down Kingdom–well, he sent me on my way with a gorgeous set of dictionaries that I have lovingly schlepped from state to state and have consulted, dog-eared, and even used as pillows when writing woke me up. My amazing support system sends me onward with tools for the journey—things like a compass rather than a roadmap.

Today I overlaid my fall schedule with the timeline I’d created for this grant project. It looks good. All systems go. I’ll keep you all posted; for tomorrow, I begin.


Special thanks, always, to you, blogfans. And also to my parents and family, Mr. French/Mr. Watters, and, as I’m required now for anything grant-related: This activity is made possible by the generosity of the McKnight Foundation through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council.