Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo: Chapter 1

Sexy Grant Writer NickNick’s grant writing mentor was brutal. Oh, he knew what he was doing; he was a master grant writer. He even knew how to teach others to write in direct, clear, hard prose. But his narrative reviews were brutal and cutting. He reviewed the narratives using a small micro-cassette which he clicked on-and-off sharply over and over like he was playing with a butterfly knife.

Into the device he spoke harshly, derisively, cruelly directing the revision so that his protege would cringe as if the man was sitting over his shoulder, watching, whipping the knife open-closed-and open again.

Nick grew angry under the torment. He resented the cynical voice and the harshness of the reviews. But he told himself he would learn from them. New wounds, fresh and still raw and old wounds healed over and scarred, marked him as a veteran of many grants. When he wasn’t being lashed by his mentor, he renewed the pain to bolster his rage by tattooing his body.

Most of his ink was of raw images depicting angst and pain but one, just one mind you, reflected the nearly dead softness he once felt toward others, a Winnie the Pooh tattoo.

Nick had a memory of his mother reading the books to him as a child. The memory always wrapped its warmth around him each morning as he shaved looking in the mirror and saw the little fat bear on the upper left side of his chest, just above his heart.

Grant writing was supposed to be a gentleman’s game, a relief from the ravages of the wars he fought in and the death he left behind. But his mentor had become his new drill sergeant and his tape recordings sounded more and more like a bad day of basic training.

The tone of the reviews threw him into a state of mind meant only for dangerous nights in the desert where he stalked death, not for his den in front of his computer.

No matter what was intended by his mentor’s vicious narrative reviews, it was the incredible journey and the unexpected end result of the abuse that would make this a tale worth telling.

Keep watch here at Sexy Grant Writers for the second installment of “The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo.”

Totally Unrelated Posts:

Top Ten Reasons Grant Writers are Sexy

The Joy of Grant Writing

Top Ten Reasons Grant Writers Are Sexy

sexy grant writersI tried to think like David Letterman (not Charlie Sheen) when I wrote these ten reasons grant writers are sexy but it was hard to do.  I think it’s because I’m a grant writer and it doesn’t come naturally to grant writers to parade our sexiness around like a peacock. I decided to write this dithering intro to loosen me up enough to write on the topic of “sexy” so here I go!

10. We’re humble about being sexy (except on this blog)

9. Our line spacing is never chemically-induced

 8. We know what abstract means

7.  We are never in passive tense

6.  We have huge staplers

5.  We can tickle your attachments

4.  We always finish last (page)

3. We know where your appendix is

2. We put the kinky in Kinkos

1. We can bring home the bacon, cook it, and make you a BLT

(Bonus reason – We have nimble fingers from writing so much)

Get the resources that will make you sexy!

Federal Grant Resources eBook
101 Tips for Aspiring Grant Writers

Related Posts:

The Joy of Grant Writing

End on the Last Page

The Joy of Grant Writing!

• Key scientific discoveries in the grant writing fields of grant psychology, grant writer physiology, and grant writer sexynessGrant writer research

Swiss researchers working at a University in Bern have announced new discoveries about grant writers. Sequestered in the Alps for the past 12 months with 24 grant writers, these intrepid scientists have been studying grant writer behavior and their report on what makes a grant writer tick is nothing short of stunning.

Dr. Vianna de Walbroia of Geneva studied the psychology of the grant writers by putting them through extensive daily testing. In this statement she summarizes her findings, “D’ere is a common psychosis among da group involving commas and 12 point fonts. Eeeet seems to be related to der over-deweloped sense of cramming far too much content into limited page restrictions. In vun experiment I offered to allow dem to write whatever de wanted and use as much paper as dey wanted, to a person, da group was so nervous dat they refused to begin writing until an approved RFP was issued for dee assignment. Dey just sat dere looking at me…it was unnerving to say da least. In da end, dey never wrote nothing so I jus put da paper away and led dem on a hike in da Alps wit a rousing Sound of Music Sing-a-long.”

Dr. Perreta de Chesaux studied the physiology of the group using a standard battery of medical and physical tests. He reports extraordinary abilities among the group in his report summarized here, “I can’t prove it genetically yet but I tink dat grant writers might be genetic mutations created by angry retired school teachers so dat grant writers reproduce school children who can sit still for more dan eight hours at a time and never say a ting. Dey also have dis peculiar increase in heart rate and blood pressure when dars any mention of jelly donuts or when ders any mention in the news of increased government entitlement spending diverted from de grant programs. I’m hoping dat one of dem will write me a grant to continue my research.”

Dr. Ruth de Chaseles was commissioned to study the attractiveness of grant writers which she passionately pursued using both hard and soft data. The doctor gives a brief overview of her results, “I measured da sexyness of dese grant writers wit da local population as a control group. My team measured da level of pheromones, physical traits such as facial construction and body type, and various personality tests too. Our comparisons between da groups did not show any remarkable differences in anyting vee could measure. But da subjective testing showed dat dere is a substantial difference in sexual attraction whenever a subject was exposed to one of da grant writers. It’s inexplicable to me, in my forty years of work I never saw nothing like dis since da beeeetles. Vee had to hire a security firm from Austria –cause vee don take sides – to keep da grant writers magnetism from corrupting da control group wit da hanky panky. And yes is true dat I’m getting married next week to one of da ones who writes da federal grant applications, hees idiomatic structures is magnificent.”

The team asserts that the study results will be useful in regulating grant writer behavior, improving grant writing training, and alerting the general population to the previously unknown animal magnetism of grant writers. The team even proposed a new genus to the scientific community named “homo grantwritericus.” Wikipedia has already adopted the new term and an authoritative definition by the team has been posted.

Related Posts:

Grant Writers are Sexy Beasts…

Photo Credit - Mattox

Grant Writing is like Having a Baby?

A confused man.The best thing about being a grant writer is getting the news that one of your proposals is funded. That’s a good moment. The second best moment is being paid for writing the grant. The rest of the job is just plain old-fashioned hard work.

Grant writing is hard to do well. It is a ton of writing, and rewriting, and editing, and formatting, and so on. It’s often a tedious process. It can also be frustrating when a narrative isn’t coming together the way you want it to. That raises the stress in a stressful process.

The final hours before a grant is due can be crazy too! Things around our office get tense on submission day. Everyone is very focused on those days and there’s always that atmosphere of grinding out the last details. Anyone who has ever written anything of importance knows that a narrative is never truly finished. Oh, it may be grammatically correct, the format may be just-so, and the language may be crisp; but, there’s always something that could be improved a little here and there. Those are the details that a professional writer cares about working with up until the very last moment.

So nearly every proposal is like having a baby. It’s a lot of hours of labor punctuated at the very end by a lot of hard pushing, sweating, and grunting. There are no epidurals and there are no C-sections for a grant, only the old fashioned way, there’s even Lamaze breathing over the copy machine.

OK, so maybe that’s a little too graphic to be sexy but giving birth to a grant is a lot of hard work. The big difference is that as the writer, there’s no more work after the grant is born. After the grant is delivered, your work is done and if it’s done well enough your baby will produce good things in the world for your client. But you never have to change a diaper.

Maybe I drifted way off topic here. Let’s try to tie this all together shall we? One of the best days of a person’s life is when their child is born. One of the best days of a grant writer’s job is when a grant gets funded. What leads up to each of those events is by turns pleasurable ( Person = ahem-ahem, and Grant Writer – getting paid) and lots of work ( Person – going through 9 months of pregnancy and labor, Grant Writer –writing the grant), but in the end something unique and wonderful is produced ( person – baby, and Grant Writer – successful proposal).

Wringing the life out of a metaphor – now that’s sexy.

Even Grant Writers can’t Tame the Tyrant of Time

Inner workings of a watch.It’s funny you know, the way we structure our lives by clocks. As a teacher long ago, I used to detest the bells. Well, except for the ones that sent all the kids home to their parents where they belonged. I disliked the opening bell and the recess bell and the lunch bell. My life was ruled by bells, it was annoying.

So I moved into administration and then a different kind of tyranny dominated my work life. It was the tyranny of ambition, the early arrivers and the late leavers. Ambitious and upwardly mobile as I wanted to be, I was in both groups. It was the tyranny of the outworking your co-workers by simply being there longer. Didn’t make you any better, didn’t make you more efficient or smarter. No, I was just there more.

On the other side of the coin were those who arrived on time and left on time every day, like clockwork, ahem. Now those folks weren’t better or worse than the early/laters but they did work less, just exactly what they were supposed to mind you, but less than those who desired to move up the ladder more fiercely.

Eventually I left the bureaucratic administration rat race – I thought – to run my own show as a freelance grant writer. I left employment proper and entered employment as a contractor. Now I was free – I thought. But then reality set in and there were times when the work was not exactly pouring in so I worked longer hours and all days to try to ensure that checks would continue to come in. There were other times when the work was pouring in and I was afraid it would stop so I took all contracts coming at me and spread myself too thin just in case I had nothing to do in the 4th quarter of the year.

Time became my tyrant again. I never had enough of it because there was money to be made and deadlines to meet. I became a sort of hunter-gatherer, collected all the nuts and berries in season. The trouble became that there was never a down season where you could just sit around and eat what you had gathered for a while.

I suppose that as long as man has been walking the earth, time has been an issue. Accepting this doesn’t really help anything does it? Oh well, I better set the alarm and get to sleep, the little red glowing tyrant beside my bed will screech at me before I even feel like I’ve closed my eyes.

Grant writers are slaves to the clock, now that’s sexy.

Dilated and Tweeting

Baby love with pregnant woman and man and hands shaped like hearts.In spite of my blog post title, I am not pregnant. Being a guy, it would be scientifically astounding if I were. It is my eyes that are dilated for those of you with your minds stuck in LaMaze.

Visiting with the ophthalmologist this morning gave me lots of time to think, especially since I saw him for all of about 30 minutes of the 2.5 hours I spend there – mostly in the waiting room with old Time magazines and old timers (where I am headed soon myself).

I thought about how hard it is to see sometimes even with your eyes open. I keep reading that social media is about connecting to people and listening. But did I see what I needed to do in order to grow my social network? No. Did I listen? No. What I did was start blasting out useful (to my thinking) information for my loyal and (NOT) growing audience.  I struck out into the Twitterverse blinder than a bat.

In trying to see how to navigate the Twitterverse, I am trying to make sense of the denizons of it.  There seem to be various camps:
Camp 1  – Socialites – People who joined Twitter to have conversations with people and to connect socially.
Camp 2 –  Celebrities and Narcissists – People who joined Twitter to communicate with their fans or constituents.
Camp 3Mother T’s – People who joined Twitter to rally people to a social/charitable cause.
Camp 4Trumpsters – People who joined Twitter to build a business through networking and promotion.
Camp 5Martha’s Brigade – People who joined Twitter to share information about their specialty.
Camp 6TechMarketers – People who joined Twitter as social media experts for the purpose of “conquering” this new media.
Camp 7Bandwaggoneers – People who joined Twitter because they thought they should.  These people got bored after ten tweets and abaondoned their accounts. 

I’ve done a few of the things that are suggested in posts about how gather followers but given the narcissistic and groupie-laden philosophies of some of the camps, I can’t see that they have any interest in following anyone.

Here are a few (some less than honorable) strategies that seem to be getting me more followers and none of these are on the lists I’ve read.
1. Suck Up– Look for people in your field who have something interesting to say and then blog about it and then tweet about the fact that you blogged about it. Vanity sells on Twitter. Works best with Celebrities, Narcissists, and Trumpsters.

2. Kiss Butt– Look for organizations like yours that have large followings and tweet about something they do well. Organizations like good virtual ink and tend to RT and say thanks. Works well with wannabe Celebrities, Trumpsters, and Martha’s Brigade.
3. Join Twit Chats – Conversations where you can add value get you followed. Social networking is available on Twitter, but it’s harder to access only posting tweets. This is where you’ll find the Socialites of course.
4. Post Pictures– People love pictures and will RT those they like. It’s the way to get past the 140 character limit too (1,000 words). Not really a target group here with the exception of photographers who are Martha’s Brigaders who’ll want to tell you how poor your white balance, there’s artifacts,  there’s no focal point in the photo (hey, I just point and shoot lay off all the jargon already!)
5. Post Constantly– I find that when I post a lot my numbers go up but the very minute that my frequency drops or I don’t tweet for a day or two, the numbers drop. I guess someone is listening after all. Socialites only like this if they want to talk to you, Celebrities and Narcissists aren’t listening to you anyway, Mother T’s will listen if you’re talking about how much to write on the check, Trumpsters listen if you’re buying, Martha’s Brigade listens if you’re in their specialty, Tech marketers listen to measure you and figure out the next BIG thing before anyone else (problem is it won’t be created by the listeners, it will be created by those leading the conversation), Bandwaggoners have already moved on to the next Big thing.

I’ll keep working at Twitter because I know it drives traffic to our web site which is the basis for being involved at all. Does anyone have any other methods I can use to increase my followers?

Grant Writing Fitness

Legs of a man walking.Grant writing is a mentally strenuous activity. The problem is that it’s also a physically sedentary activity. Except for the typing involved, trips to the coffee pot, trips to the pot, and feeding the animals (2 and 4-legged), there’s just not a lot of movement involved.

Here are some suggestions for staying healthier as a grant writer:

1) Schedule an hour a day to get out and exercise. It can be walking (my preference) or whatever you want. I heard a doctor on TV (may have been Dr. Oz, but not sure) one time tell a patient, “You have a choice. You can exercise for an hour a day, or you can be dead for 24 hours a day.” That seemed like an easy choice to me and I’ve been doing an hour almost every day ever since.
2) Don’t buy junk food for your grant writing snacks. Instead of cookies and junk food, buy nuts, healthy crackers, fruit. When I wanted to lose weight, I began to count calories and the amount of calories in small and savory snacks scared me! I was amazed and appalled at how many calories I had been consuming!
3) Buy a calorie book and a little notepad and count your calories for a month. Don’t alter your eating habits unless you want to but keep careful count to see how much you’re eating. You’ll probably be astounded at how many calories you’re eating.
4) Talk on the phone standing up. With cordless phones today you can get up, move around, or walk outside. You’re probably not working on the computer when you’re on the phone so get up and move.  You’re on the phone anyway, so why not multi-task and burn off a few calories at the same time?
5) Move to a new location when you’re reading drafts and revising by hand. It’s good to change position and location. I find I am less tired when I get up and change locations now and then.

Those are a few of the ways that I stay trimmer, healthier, and less fatigued when I am grant writing. Of course I still get the forearm cramps from typing for eight hours but that’s just part of the gig.
A healthy grant writer is sexy!

If Twitter is Social Media, Why isn’t it Social?

Picture of the wilson castaway volleyball.I’m using Twitter a lot these days and even though it is called a social media tool, I am finding it to be more of a ticker-tape of sales offers and news. It’s more like those scrolling, red-letter digital signs you see on buildings, especially outside of news studios; the ones that endlessly scroll through headlines. This one allows anyone with a need to sell you something you don’t want to post their offers, endlessly.

I hear a lot about Twitter popularity on the news and the internet but I honestly can’t say it’s a very useful tool for business so far. It does drive traffic to our web site. We notice a drop in visits on days when we fall behind on our company tweeting. Converting those visitors to customers is another story however.

The low conversion rate to sales could say more about how we’re presenting our services on the web than it does about Twitter itself, or it could be that everyone who’s on Twitter all day is there because they’re all unemployed and don’t have any money to spend. Our giveaways go like hotcakes which supports the theory that most people in Twitter have no money.

tuna fish in a can.One criticism of Twitter that isn’t well-deserved is that all the users do is tweet about their bowel movements or tuna fish sandwiches. While some of that kind of minutia is tweeted, I think it probably results in people being un-followed by other Twitter users. My guess is the negative reaction to mundane tweeting results in a self-moderating by users, or people never read anyone’s tweets and simply use Twitter to broadcast their own sales pitches.

I can’t find the key to unlocking the social part of Twitter. I’ve had one real conversation with someone in almost a year of using the service! It isn’t like I don’t try to be social. I respond to what people say sometimes and they almost never reply. When they do it is just to say “thanks” which is nice but is a conversation ender, not a starter.  I retweet interesting tweets and those people infrequently say thanks at all. I give “shouts out” to people I like to follow and they often ignore my efforts to engage them. I’m like Tom Hanks on the island in the movie Castaway talking to a virtual Twitter volleyball named Wilson. I feel like kicking Wilson out into the ocean. But then I’d probably go scrambling back after him anyway. My Twitter isolation is resulting in a kind of a post-twee-matic stress disorder I think.

I fear that it’s only me who can’t get gain traction within the social part of Twitter, my boss seems to be talking to people. Maybe I am just a deadly boring person who sucks at 140 character writing. Perhaps I am headline-challenged or maybe I am using the service all wrong.

Maybe the issue is that I am a grant writer and grant writing isn’t considered sexy  (How wrong-headed is that?)  Ellen seems to have lots of followers and all she does is say funny things under her blue eyes and dance over a coffee table every afternoon.

Since nobody is socializing with me, maybe I’ll head over to Ikea and buy a coffee table.

Good Grant Programs are Corrupted by a Bad Foundation

Grants are often applied for to renovate a program or to implement a new and shiny program model.  Sometimes grants are submitted by an agency with a faulty foundation; perhaps the agency’s accounting is poor, their administration is weak, or their program leadership is unskilled.  Grant writers need to highlight the organizational strength of an agency to give reassurance to the grant maker that the proposed program can and will be implemented properly.Bad foundation falling apart

There’s a house in midtown nearby that has undergone a major renovation recently.  An investor bought it and for a number of months the place was surrounded by a chain link fence as construction took place.   New windows were installed and a new front porch was constructed.  Lots of work went on within the house too.  After all the inner improvements were made, the fence was removed and the landscaping was redone.

I noticed that there were the remnants of an old Bermuda lawn which had been worn to stubs by all of the construction traffic.  I assumed that before a new lawn was laid the investor would roto-till the soil and get all the Bermuda out.  I was shocked one day to go by and see workers unrolling the new sod right on top of the unprepared yard.  I knew that within two or three years, the Bermuda would overtake and ruin the beautiful-looking lawn.

The foundation of the new landscaping is corrupted and faulty.  Seeing how the landscaper lay the new lawn made me wonder what other shortcuts the investor had taken in the renovation.  Where else would the eventual home owner be surprised as hidden faults emerged and revealed themselves?

A grant writer’s job is not to write as if to lay sod over a faulty landscape.  A grant writer’s job is to describe the strengths of the agency which illustrate how the grant will properly implemented.  A strong agency will have data that supports the implementation of new programs.

Grant makers seek applicants that bring strength to the process of grant implementation.  A strong organizational foundation positively demonstrates capacity to implement and assures grant makers that the new program won’t be corrupted by concealed flaws.