Written by A Guest Author May 12th, 2022

Pursue That Grant

By Elaine Russell

As a little girl I was drawn to stories. I didn’t care if my teacher was reading them to me or if my dad was. I was always captured in the imaginary tales recited to me. So naturally, I was always making up little stories for school as a kid. Truly, most writers are voracious readers, many of us want to emulate our literary heroes. It is what drew many of us to the craft.

It was only natural that by my teens I would find myself creating tales of my own. I was in writing classes all through high school.

Then the unavoidable happened, I married, had kids, put everything else on hold so that my husband and I could put food on the table and take care of our family.

It isn’t hard to fathom that decades would inevitably fly by before I’d find myself longing to get back to writing. After my divorce I enrolled at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington and did three semesters of writing classes.

I had only ever submitted my work to the college’s SLAM magazine at Pierce, which publishes art, poetry, and short stories from the students at the school and my poem “The Jay” was published. I’m very proud of that AA degree, but the divorce changed the course of my life just as getting married did. Now the mother of three kids and starting over, I knew one thing for certain, I wanted to write. I want to be published,  to have readers of my poetry, short stories and novel-in-progress.

One thing I have learned about the literary world is that we are a true family of one accord. A published writer friend of mine, without my knowledge, nominated me for one of the Splendid Mola Tiny Grants awards. It’s a grant given to writers in all facets of their career and the only criteria is that you must be nominated by another writer to be considered for the grant.

I would never consider applying for a writer’s grant, not with the impending fear of rejection staring back at me. We writers must grow accustomed to rejection, it is a part of the nature of writing, but still – the thought of one of those letters coming back was disheartening. No matter how great you think you are, all you need is that one rejection letter to bring you back down to earth. And now as I pursue the process of submitting, my rejection letter collection – or as I call it – the toilet paper dispensary, grows faster than the weeds in my garden.
Usually, if you are an author pursuing the craft, you experiment with every avenue, and grants lie somewhere on that street. I was not prepared to pursue the grant, but to my surprise, I received the email notifying me that I had indeed become the recipient of the Tiny Grant. I didn’t even know what that meant when I read through it. My writer friend followed up with a “surprise, you got it” email after he had been notified as the person who submitted the nomination.

Sometimes it takes something that ‘tiny’ to push you into taking the next step. Writers need that push sometimes, encouragement never hurts. Later, I did apply and received a scholarship to attend the 19th annual (virtual) James River Writers Conference, October 9, 2021, and will be attending the 2022 Northern Colorado Writers Writing Heights Writers Conference Scholarship in Ft. Collins, Colorado in April. Talk about a boost.

This may read as a memoir, but it truly is not. Positive acknowledgement, no matter how small, feeds something in us literary artists. I basked in that small fifteen minutes of glory and enjoyed the title ‘grant recipient’. It isn’t every day a grant falls into your lap, but sometimes it takes something small and unexpected to help kick you into gear.

If you’ve mulled over applying for a grant, you should do it. If you haven’t, you should find one to apply for. They are all over the internet and most writers’ conferences offer them under many categories, BIPOC, women, LGBTQ +, single mom, etc. The process is straight forward, the chances great – but the final acceptance – totally rewarding. Do it.

Bio: Born in Canada but now a US Citizen, stories intrigued Elaine Russell at a very early age. Her voracious literary appetite would eventually lead to writing, from poetry, short prose and eventually a novel in progress. You can find her online at https://tinyurl.com/ElaineRussell


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