Saturday, September 6, 2008

My hand is out

This morning, at 6:30 a.m., still struggling after about nine days with chapter 2 of my book, I thought: There must be money flying around out there for me! Grants, fellowships. Tax money!

Every day I read about artists and writers far less qualified than I am getting all this money for various projects that are, ahem, not as worthy as mine. I should get someone to give me money, I thought, so I can stay home from work for 10 years or whatever it takes to get this thing done.

The world owes me a living!

So I got on the Internet and started looking around.

The bad news: I am not Mexican, a woman of color or a member of an under-served minority, unless you count being the biographer of a classical pianist. Biographers of classical pianists are an under-served minority!

Many grants, too, are open only to writers in a particular state or region.

Also, there are an awful lot of grants for poetry! What kind of loser writes poems and expects to make money off that? Well, that is the way I used to think. Now I am not so sure. Now I am looking too!

Finally I found a fellowship I think I should apply for. Not only is it open to just about anyone, but I cannot imagine I would have a lot of competition.

"Spend Three Months In the Backcountry of Southwestern Oregon," the notice read.

It then added that the nearest basic medical facilities were two hours away. The house was really just a shack. Electricity was iffy and you would have to go long periods without it. Oh, and you have to spend an hour a day on basic maintenance of this cabin, or whatever it is.

They do give you $2,900. I think that is what the stipend is. I found an account of the place written by some divorced guy who got the fellowship one year. So I guess the offer is for real.


I can just see myself making phone calls, whenever circumstances allowed it, from this cabin. Imagine calling, oh, the conductor Seiji Ozawa, to ask him about recording Richard Strauss' "Burleske" with Leonard Pennario. "Mr. Ozawa, I'm sorry, my phone is cutting out... I am operating out of the backcountry of southwestern Oregon."

Probably I could make this work. Heck, if I can get work done in our home office, with the kids in the pool next door screaming "Marco!" "Polo!" until two in the morning, I can get work done anywhere, even in the backcountry of southwestern Oregon.

But that would be a very un-Pennario place to finish my book. Pennario was a city boy. Mr. Idaho told me that. Other people have too. Plus, I could tell that myself.

In the backcountry of southwestern Oregon, I do not think I could count on having Pennario's spirit hovering around to inspire me.

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