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February 24, 2018: When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Write about it

I’m sitting at the kitchen table and Pete is sitting at his kitchen addition desk. He’s formatting my Rasmuson Grant proposal. The sky is overcast, and it’s snowing lightly. Wait – I can now see the sun, an indistinct ball with no edges. So perhaps the sun will shine this afternoon. It’s the ongoing race against time – I can’t get much done inside when the weather’s nice. And I can’t get much done outside when the weather’s crappy. As my mother used to say, “You pick your battles.”

Writing grants and submitting them for funding purposes is always a risky proposition. The process takes a lot of time and energy. And you never know

what the outcome might be. Projects like this also bring one to a figurative fork in the road. Writing takes time, lots of time, and taking on one project means others must be set aside or abandoned.

Last Friday I went to a presentation given by Rachel Z. Miller, the Founder/Director of the Rozalia Project, an organization that is involved in ocean clean up and education. This took place at in the Valley Community for Recycling Solutions education room. Bethany, Nichols a Chickaloon-based teacher/educator also spoke about her ocean-going experiences. Both women did an amazing job in their overview. Their energy was palpable. I and the standing room only crowd were totally enthralled. Rather than indicate that the situation is hopeless, they instead took a more positive tack.

By the end of their talk, the forty-or-so of us in attendance were convinced that we can assist (albeit indirectly) in the ongoing ocean clean-up efforts. For instance, Rachel talked about micro-fibers and their effect on plant and ocean life. She then noted that she’s currently involved in marketing Cora Balls. These rubbery balls have prongs, and when tossed in washers and driers, they pick up the small but deleterious bits of so-called fleece fuzz.

I weighed my options and considered the long-term consequences of writing about the Rozalia Project versus writing a grant, versus finishing up Part 1 of Forks. All are equally important. I wanted to promote Rachel’s ongoing efforts. I wanted to write up my interview with Alaska State Fair vendor Dori McDannold. And I wanted to work on the grant project. I eventually decided on the latter because funding will enable me to complete Part II of If You Come to a Fork in the Road. And the publication of this book will make it easier for me to venture down other equally-important writing-related recycling paths.

The Rasmuson Foundation prides itself on being a socially-responsible organization. And my project is about recycling, which is a socially-responsible activity. In the past I submitted other grants to the Rasmuson Foundation, well knowing that my thematic threads were loosely tied together. I’d hoped that because my grants were well-written that they powers-that-be would cut me some slack. This was an unrealistic hope. The reality is this: those who determine what gets published are looking for reasons to discard your manuscript. The same holds true of those looking at grant applications.

I feel good about my nearly-completed grant application because I initially saw it as an altogether too difficult undertaking. I continued to feel this way as I attempted to answer the first two grant questions, both of which centered on the relationship inherent to funding and career aspirations. I acted upon an ahh haa moment, in which I decided to write about my career in relation to form (a growing interest in the interrelationship of exposition and narration) in the first response and content (a growing interest in recycling) in the second. As a writer, I have always had what Sondra Perl calls “a felt sense,” which is the ability to discern whether or not my work will resonate with my audience. And in this instance, it resonated. From this point on, it was clear sailing. I revised and included the Introduction and the first chapter of When You Come to a Fork in the Road Pick it Up. The latter is entitled “The Wonderful World of Work.”

Following paths is all about making choices. I admit that I took a side-path while working on this grant. I revised the chapter from Forks entitled Stuck in Fair Traffic and entered it in the Alaska Writer’s Guild Contest. So there are now two irons in the writing fire. And soon there will be more. I will write up and send out a book proposal to the University of Alaska Press after I finish Part 1 of Forks. Hopefully, the weather will remain conducive to working inside.

Next: 56.2/25/18: What’s Shaking

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