Not an equation

In a recent application for a grant, I struggled with the section “detailed project description.” Every sentence was a struggle for me. In particular, I had trouble setting out how I adapt and use, in my own first person writing, a Stanislavski teaching called “I am being.” It is an approach I studied as an actor years ago and for me as a writer today it is indispensable.

So frustrating were the sessions I devoted to writing the detailed project description I was convinced I would need to rewrite that section from scratch. I saw the work I had done as jumbled, disorganized, unfocused. In particular I felt the description of “I am being” lacked clarity. Discouraged, I set the detailed project description aside, unfinished, and carried on with other, more mechanical parts of the application. Then I did work unrelated to the grant application. The deadline was not imminent, and I needed distance.

When I returned to the application a couple of days later, it was with the intention of rewriting the detailed project description. I decided to reread what I had done on the off-chance that some part of it might be salvageable.


That project description I’d written was not half bad.

I had set out the intent of my project and my method in clear terms. The explanation of “I am being” passed muster. I was able to finish that project description fairly quickly and send the application on its way.

What had happened? A confusion in my mind between process and result. Because I’d had trouble with the writing, as I so often do, I had decided what I’d written was a mess. But messy process does not equal messy result.