As far as I can gather, getting financial support for your writing project works like this.
1. At 27, after failing to become an actor in Los Angeles (because you only spent two days there), you get a coach to Canada and fail to become a successful carpenter. You fail to become a successful carpenter because you’re not very good at carpentry, you’re too scared to climb ladders and you keep laughing at your boss’s face when he hammers in nails. After being fired, you leave Canada and head to Mallorca and make a film about a man who thinks he’s both Clint Eastwood and the King of Spain. After six weeks of filming every day, you become a bit heady and have to move back to the UK and medication. Back home, and on medication, you visit Bournemouth library and happen upon a book called Directory of Grant Making Trusts. This is good, you think, there may be grants available to filmmakers (you assume, wrongly, that you’re a filmmaker now). There is, however, a problem. There is always a problem. The book appears pretty much impenetrable. This is because you didn’t read the ‘How to use this directory’ section at the beginning of the directory. After wrestling with the guide for about 30 minutes you give up, reasoning that the problem doesn’t lie with you, but with the book. You decide not to apply for a grant. That’ll show someone, you think. About three months later you suffer what may or may not be a breakdown. You write about the whole experience – the filming, the breakdown – for Bizarre magazine. It’s your first feature. You ask the editor on the phone if you can be paid up front and he does his best not to laugh. Two years later, when you meet the editor at a party, you claim that asking for payment up front was ‘a joke’, but he can’t remember the incident and goes off to talk to someone else.
2. At 35, after failing to become a reliable husband in London (because you only spent four years there and didn’t really have enough time for your jokes to bed in or for you to hit your sexual peak), you relentlessly get coaches between Bournemouth and London and attempt to pitch the world. You fail at this because – well, there isn’t the time right now, but you fail at this. One day you visit Bournemouth library and head straight for the section which houses the 2010/2011 edition of the Directory of Grant Making Trusts. The first bit of the directory is entitled ‘How to use this directory’, but it looks a bit too long and complicated so you skip it assuming, wrongly, that you read it back in 2003 and have probably retained the information. After half an hour wrestling with the book you go outside and smoke – and hugely enjoy – a cigarette. You come back from your enjoyable cigarette and inexplicably find three trusts which give grants to individuals working on book projects. You like looking at the numbers which run from £500 to £10,000. But you don’t apply according to the guidelines they set out. Oh no, not you. Fuck that. Play by their rules? No way. Far too uncool for a maverick dicksplash writer like you. No way are you going to apply in the manner they suggest which is probably helpful both for them and the applicant. No. Instead, you write a series of long, winding, seemingly carefree applications full of crap jokes that aren’t really jokes. You sit back and wait for the three cheques.
See? Grants. Who knew grant writing could be such fun? Not me. But whilst I’m waiting for my three cheques to roll in, if anyone else has any information on grants – and please, this isn’t an invitation to cut and paste Wikipedia entries on Eddie Grant, Russel Grant or Ulysses S Grant. Or Grant Mitchell* – then please feel free to share it.
*It is really.