Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Just keep swimming, just keep typing

I have been grantwriting for my dad. I have been grantwriting while kicking and screaming. Every once in awhile, I drop my head into my hands and whine to the air around me, "Daddy, I can't do this!"

But I just keep typing.

This is a government grant and it wants rediculous, illogical things from me. It also wants the finished product to be three times longer than it currently is. If I could just write a simple case for support, I would be fine. But no, I have to jam my information into the format that the governemnt dictates. Plus, Dad's organization is an umbrella organization so the logic is harder to communicate. His organization helps the organizations that help the poor. Since he doesn't directly make the lives of the poor better, it's tougher to say how the governement's $50,000 that will go to hiring a Development Director will help the poor. I hate it.

But I just keep typing.

It’s kind of like when I was a senior in college and had to produce a 30-page research AND analysis paper on Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and how it relates to Postmodernism. Dr. O’Gorman recognized that our brains could not contain the scope of a logical argument that large and complex. It would be impossible for us to simply start at the beginning and write through to the end. She told us just to keep typing. She said that every day, we should write at least a page of some part of the argument. We didn’t have to pick up where we left off the day before. If we wanted a day off, we should write two pages the day before. She said this was how she wrote big papers. Then, when it comes time to put the paper together, you put the little bits of argument together, fill in the gaps and write the transitions. And, what do you know? It worked. I even got an A- from the universally acknowledged “toughest grader on campus.”

So I just keep typing.

I started with the easiest section, which happened to be in the middle. Then, I wrote a little for the next section. Then, I went back and filled in a little more from the first section I worked on. Then, I tried the introduction. Little by little, bit by bit, I started fulfilling the requirements, even though they are stupid, illogical requirements.

I just emailed Dad a completed draft. I thought I would never get there. I thought it would be little incomplete bits and pieces forever. I thought my dad would wonder whose child I was, complaining about how hard and stupid it was to him, my boss. What kind of a work ethic is that?

But he told to just keep typing.

I don’t have to produce the final draft. I just have to give him something to work with. I kept typing because he has so many other aspects of this grant to keep track of. All I had to do was write the narrative. I couldn’t abandon him to that, too. So, I wrote the narrative. I keep telling him it’s not very good. He may secretly agree with me, but he’ll never admit it. That’s not his style. He’ll tell me what he likes about a section and suggest some directions that I can go with it to flesh it out. We have a pretty good editor/writer relationship. I won’t make him write the final draft. His suggestions won’t be that hard to implement and I’ll end up just doing it to create a second draft, even though I’ll protest that it’s not very good and that his suggestions are what give it any value at all. He’ll add a couple of things to the second draft and I’ll end up discussing them with him and thinking of a few changes of my own. We’ll go back and forth and all of a sudden, we’ll have a final draft to send to Uncle Sam.

Because I just kept typing.

When I write a book like Anne Lamott’s and Don Miller’s books someday, I’ll take this essay and use this situation as a metaphor for something larger, probably God’s love and his plan for my life. I worry, though, that you, my audience, get bored with big idea essays like that. Plus, they take longer to write than simply relating events that happen. I want to keep the blogs coming so that you will keep coming back. Making them into thoughtful essays slows down the process. You wouldn’t believe how many thoughtful essays I have made notes for but have never gotten around to writing. So, here is my story about hating grantwriting. I’m learning so much from my dad about effective fundraising. It’s a skill I have potential to develop and I am developing that skill totally against my will. It’s not at all like singing. I think I am also learning that grantwriting is not the path for me. I hate it. I’m sure that means that I’ll be pulled into doing it for the rest of my life, like when people find out that you make good potato salad and pressure you to bring it to every picnic ever held. Ugh.


Anonymous said...

This comment has nothing to do with what you wrote, but I feel that being family gives me the right to get off track. I saw your parents this weekend. When I pulled into grandma's driveway on Sunday your father was standing just outside of the garage wearing a pair of grandpa's baby blue pants (a little snug) and one of grandpa's old white t-shirts. The kind that he wore while doing yard work, skin tight and totally transparent. It was an outfit worthy of only two men, grandpa and your father. I wish that you could have been there to laugh with me.

Anonymous said...

you did an excellent job on the government proposal. i love you. dad