The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, September 01, 2006

How to Apply for a Government Grant in 12 Simple Steps

by Melissa Bell

Hello everyone! Sorry I'm a bit late with this one today. I went to bed early! Anyway, this is the piece that ultimately did rejected by Publication X. They were darn nice about turning me down though, and I didn't get nearly as drunk as I thought I would. It's a little long, so if you've got other things to do, run along and go do them! And have a safe long weekend everyone!

How to Apply for a Government Grant in 12 Simple Steps

1. Have best friend break leg. His own of course. Avoid the “compound fracture” as these can be complicated and messy; a nice clean break that necessitates a bit of surgery in order to realign a displaced periosteum is ideal. This will provide an opportunity to drive your friend to his consultation with his surgeon.
2. Make sure the doctor is pleasantly attractive and someone you might like to get to know outside of his work environment. This will inspire you to scheme and plan and take full advantage of your friend’s “unfortunate accident”. But be subtle about it! Offer to drive your friend to any follow-up appointments that might be required. These appointments will usually occur once every 6-8 weeks for perhaps the next 6 months. This allows you, the “writer”, to “bone up” (zing!) on your doctor jokes.
3. Eschew the usual “I’ll just sit here and read a magazine while you go in” at these appointments. It’s important that you accompany your friend at all times. Hold the door for him. Offer to get him a macchiato. Act like you genuinely care about your friend’s future as a fully mobile human being, but make sure the doctor understands that you and your friend are NOT married and that you’re a just very concerned and reliable source of comfort and rapier wit. Watch and listen very carefully for any signs that the attractive doctor might be married and/or gay. While neither of these “conditions” precludes acquiring a government grant, it can really make Steps 7-9 particularly challenging.
4. Watch medical shows on TV. Begin to write something that involves an attractive doctor character. Give the doctor character lots of funny lines/predicaments and a rich inner life.
5. When your friend’s leg has healed completely and few weeks have passed since his final appointment, write a letter to the doctor informing him of your medically-inspired work-in-progress and ask if he might be able to grant you an interview for research purposes. (Note: Even though you know his home address and have driven by his house several times to check out the neighborhood, it is recommended that the letter be sent to his office.)
6. Keep reminding yourself that most doctors – especially attractive surgeons - are very, very busy, and while the temptation will be strong to just forget the whole thing after your letter has had no response for several months, try not to waste the summer thinking about what a fool you’ve been and bothering your newly-healed friend with phone calls about whether or not you should follow up with a second letter (handwritten this time). Your friend is unlikely to be sympathetic to your dilemma. You must soldier on with writing the project, however do feel free to begin rendering the doctor character as less funny and charming and more of a pathetic loser/worthless bum.
7. When the doctor eventually does call and apologizes for not getting back to you sooner and says he’d actually be delighted to help you with your research, try not to giggle and squeal like a Justin Timberlake fan. Wait until he hangs up.
8. When he calls a few days later to give you directions to his house, do not respond with “Oh, yeah, I know exactly where that is.” Take a notepad and a nice pen. Think of some good questions!
9. If you’ve been doing your “homework” and watching medical shows as previously suggested, don’t be afraid to pepper the interview with a few challenging queries such as “Did you know acetabulum actually means ‘vinegar bowl’?” Do not take it personally if he corrects your pronunciation of acetabulum. There is a very good chance that you have already shown him you have more knowledge of his profession than many of the people with whom he works. Discreetly give yourself a pat on the back when he leaves the room to get you another beer.
10. Go home and continue writing project. When a first draft is complete, schedule a reading at a local bar that holds such events, and invite the doctor to attend. Do not be disappointed when he informs you he has a previous appointment, wishes you “all the best in your future endeavors” and says “It was nice to have met you”. He is a doctor and he is very busy. But do go and have a “good time”. Have your best friend drive you home. He owes you one.
11. The following afternoon, when you wake up, look up “How to apply for a government grant” on the web. This is a relatively simple process as most government websites have readily printable applications. Read carefully (a lawyer, preferably a cute one, might be helpful with this part) and fill out all the required forms neatly and accurately, obtain excellent letters of reference from respected individuals (those who owe you favors are your best bet), and provide a detailed and appropriate budget. Above all, don’t forget to include your work-in-progress in the package and be sure to submit by the appropriate deadline. This is crucial.
12. Pour yourself a stiff drink and wait. Repeat as necessary.

Congratulations! You have successfully applied for a government grant! Now wasn’t that easy?


Blogger Anne C. said...

Why is it that when you say "friend," I read "Pasha"? Because a girl can only have one friend?

Fri Sep 01, 01:54:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

This is great, Mel. Very thorough, very funny :) Thanks for posting it!

Sun Sep 03, 12:24:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Doctors are the best to have crushes on. Very funny writing, Mel. I wish you a whole barrel of friends with broken legs.

Mon Sep 04, 12:15:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Patricia said...

you totally make me laugh, I so need this tonight, this is sooo freaking funny, and true!!! and I can soooo see this!! I love it, thanks P

Tue Sep 05, 01:39:00 am GMT-4  

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