Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NEA $25,000. Creative Writing Fellowship

Funding Opportunity Number, 2008NEA03LFCW

Funding Opportunity Number, 2008NEA03LFCW

"Before you apply through for the first time," says the NEA Application Calendar, "you must be registered. Register with

* It is a multi-step process.
* Takes time; allow a few days.
* Must be completed before you can submit your application."

This year it wasn't simply a matter of not getting the grant (which is usually the case, though I've had some good luck in the past), but of trying and trying, and not even getting the application. Three days on the computer, locating the Funding Opportunity Number, 2008NEA03LFCW, downloading latest Adobe Reader and other software to "read" the application (pot of gold at end of rainbow), getting e-Authentication User ID, returning to the website, selecting "Home," going back to the ORC eAuthentication main page, selecting the blue "Credential Check" button, entering the User ID and password. Then my password gets rejected, then my User name gets rejected, then I start the process all over again... then my Safari browser crashes...

Back to the ORC e-authentication help desk... four hours, five hours... and I've written software user manuals for a living, I thought I knew how to do this stuff. Grow fascinated with the stupefying process, forget even why I'm doing it... more and more investment of time, figure "I can't quit now..."

I imagine Franz Kafka putting in for a writing fellowship... Kafka at I call my friend David, more skillful and versatile with handling himself online... He too is stymied, but knows another person, a fellow poet, who has managed to download and complete the application.

"You're 74 years old," says my wife. "They're not going to give it to you anyway. They want younger people."

"But if it's this hard to get an application," I say, "the odds are fewer people will apply. Therefore, I'll have a better chance."

NEA Day 3 - she brews an espresso, suggests phoning for hard copy application, which I do. Get directed, then re-directed back to the very place on the website where I've spent all these hours... "Look, sir, they're no longer providing hard copy application forms," says a lady on the other end of the line.

Back to work. And I have just the poem, "Woof Fuckin' Woof," one of the new ones I've been seeking to set aside time to complete.


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