I knew what was in the envelope. There was no doubt. I could have delayed opening it, but my brain had already processed the likelihood of there being a rejection letter inside, a diplomatically written rejection letter, a supportive, try-again-next-time rejection letter – but a rejection letter, nonetheless. It was futile to continue fantasizing about receiving the opposite of a rejection letter. So I opened the damn thing. Even though it had been addressed to Ms. Dana Pearson.
I had applied for a grant from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (a group of historical societies) to help fund research into a historical novel I’ve had in mind for a while. I had heard it was a highly competitive grant (grants, actually, as they award a couple dozen every year), and judging from past recipients, I believed it. Scholarly stuff all, PhD material. The Socioeconomic Impact of the Butter Churn on 18th Century Rhode Island. That sort of stuff. I figured I’d have the edge with my work of fiction.
Now, all writers know that part of the gig is receiving rejection letters on a regular basis, allowing one to save on wallpaper. One downside of this digital age is that oftentimes rejections come via email. (I like to kid myself and think that’s just the Russians messing with me.) So while this latest thanks-but-no-thanks missive was a disappointment, at least it came on old-school, cream-colored Massachusetts Historical Society letterhead, signed by an actual human being. A nice touch.
And it did provide me with a massive laugh. Applying a balm to my sensitive writer’s ego by reminding me the competition was stiff, they wrote, “In the end, [the committee] considered 96 proposals and awarded 24 grants.” My mind couldn’t help substituting the 96 with a 25.
And yes, Mom, everything is a joke with me.