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February 20, 2014: The Writing Life: Rasmuson Proposal

It’s a bright sunny day, and I’m inside, working on the first portion of a Rasmuson Project Proposal. I deliberated for some time about putting together and submitting my grant application. This is a gamble – I’m not sure what the outcome will be. Time spent working on this proposal will take time away from my working on my book project proposal. The deadline for the Rasmuson Grant project is March 2, 2014, and my self-imposed deadline for the University of Alaska Press project is the same date.

Pete suggested that rather than seek funding for my book project that I instead seek funding for upgrading and maintaining this website. I initially ignored his suggestion because I then didn’t believe that the latter was worthy of funding. I’ve always believed that lasting writing, drawing, and photography are the end result of years of labor on a particular project. I mean, look at the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling art

didn’t materialize overnight, nor did Michelangelo’s statue of David.

But as is often the case, Pete’s idea set the gears in my head turning. I finally conceded that his was a good idea, for I could generate interest in my project by making some very specific funding requests. My requests would be for very practical, and much needed items, the first being web-based consultant time. In addition, I might also request funding for a new computer, a new camera, and drawing supplies. I would further argue that having these items in hand would ultimately result in my website’s being more accessible, user friendly, and noticeable, thus increasing my overall readership.

I then sat down, and in the section entitled Description of Activities, I began hammering out the first bit of requested information. It was in the act of writing that I foresaw how central this site is to my composing process as a writer.

I said in my Rasmuson overview that the information in my dispatches has provided fodder for my longer writings, using Raudi’s Story (now in print) and Raising Raudi (so to be in print) as examples. And I also noted that information in these dispatches will provide fodder for two works-in-progress, which are Piled Higher and Deeper: The Composing Process of an Alaskan Writer and Ryder’s First Year: Insights Related to the Border Collie Mind.

I also noted that my putting postings up on this website has enabled me to continue conversations with those who have an ongoing interest in the subject matters that I’ve been writing about, most notably the cognitive processes of writers and artists, and as well, the cognitive processes of dogs and ponies. I then provided an example, noting how my writing about artistic drive prompted Fairbanks artist Fran Bundtzen and I (via email) to talk further about this very subject.

I didn’t (for space-related reasons) say in my Rasmuson overview that writing dispatches get my writerly gears turning. All begin as low stakes writing, or writing which is self-based. I write my first drafts by hand. They’re sloppy and incomprehensible to all but me. I wouldn’t write anything at all if, early on, it had to make sense to a larger audience. I also always begin my drafts by writing for surprise. And so, quite often, unexpected ideas surface. For example, yesterday I sat down having no ideas at all as what to write about. What immediately came to mind were the musings of a friend, who wondered if because I was spending so much time with the dogs, if I was going to sell the horses. Right then, I realized that I needed to set the record straight.

I next type the draft into the computer, making revisionary changes as I go along. After, I reread it, and revise it further. Lastly, Pete reads it, and if he sees fit, he suggests additional changes.

Sometimes the photographs and illustrations are the catalyst for the written portion of the dispatches, and sometimes the written dispatches are the catalyst for the photographs and illustrations. Always, both are complementary. All this to say that this website is indeed central to what I do – write in order to discover what it is that I want to say, and write in order to communicate what I want to say to others.

Next: 52. 2/21/14: Dog Training: Elementary School Graduation