(Well, if you're a Hoosier, anyway.)
Today the Indiana Arts Commission sent me all the details about the review panel for Individual Artist Grant applicants in Literature, which happens next week. I don't have to go, and if I'm there I'm not allowed to talk to the panelists about my application or pipe up with any clarifications or anything. It'll be kind of like a workshop, where I just have to sit there and listen even if I feel like my work is being misinterpreted or whatever. Well, I've been in enough workshops, goodness knows, so it won't be an altogether unfamiliar experience. I think I will learn a lot by listening to the discussion -- not just of my application but of the other Literature applicants as well. If my application is unsuccessful, I'll probably get a much clearer idea of what it takes to write a better one. And I will get to learn about what some other writers around the state are up to, what kind of projects they've proposed. So, I do plan to go. I'm nervous about it though, which kind of surprises me.
The panel is scheduled to run from 10 am to 3 pm, in downtown Indianapolis -- I'll need to allow an hour and a half travel time each way. Only the Literature applicants will be discussed that day; there are separate panels for the other genres such as visual art, crafts, music, etc. There are 18 applicants in literature, and mine will be the 16th application reviewed. (Yikes ... I hope the panelists aren't totally burned out by that point.) The grants themselves are not limited by genre; they have x amount of money to give out in $2000 chunks, and each application gets a numerical score from the panel in the appropriate genre. After all the panels have convened, then they take all the highest scoring applications and award grants to them. Then they go to the next highest ones and award them, and so on till they run out of money. So I'm not just competing with the other writers, but with ALL the other applicants. My understanding is that they'll be able to award about 40 grants total. I didn't count up how many applicants there were but maybe a couple hundred? Yikes.
So I won't know for sure about the grant until the Commission convenes in, I think, June sometime. But next week I will at least know what score my application received; if it's under a certain point I know for sure I'm out of the running, and if it's super high I will feel confident of having a good chance.
The material I received today actually included the names of all the applicants, in all the genres, which is pretty cool. I recognized three or four of the writers' names; the fact that the list wasn't jam-packed with really well-known people feels like a hopeful sign to me, though. I recognized a smattering of names from the other genres too, including a singer-songwriter who has performed extensively with John Prine -- so yeah, there is definitely some tough competition for these awards. I don't really like the idea of "competition" in art, but there you have it.
Whatever happens, though, putting together the application was a very good experience for me. It made me sit down and outline what I need to do to make this particular project happen, and for that matter, it made me think seriously about doing a relatively ambitious project which would, I hope, push me to the next level as a poet. I think listening to the panelists discuss the applications will also be a good learning experience, and if I'm lucky, I'll strike up a conversation with one or more of the other Literature applicants, maybe even get a little group to go for coffee or lunch afterwards. That would be nice.
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Oh yeah, Napowrimo. Nothing yet today. But I'm on it, I'm on it.