Thursday, July 24, 2014

Money for nothing

Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.

-Terry Pratchett

I just read this quote in an introduction written by Zadie Smith for a book of short stories. The quote is by George Eliot:

I don't want the world to give me anything for my books, except money to save me from the temptation of writing only for money.

Yeah. That. In fact, I don't even want the money. I am happy in my little bubble where all my needs are taken care of and I need not write a single word for money. I am happy with my Grant.

Oh, you didn't know I was the recipient of a Grant? I suppose I don't bandy it about much. But I have the great honor of being the recipient of the very generous Library Bloggers Support Grant, known commonly as the LBSG. I don't remember exactly how I got it because it was so long ago. You see, one of the many generous things about this grant is that one receives it for as long as one wants it. Yep. No reapplication, no new forms, no review, nothing. The rights and responsibilities of this grant just keep rolling in until you don't want them anymore. Amazing, yes?

I started out using the grant to support cartooning. This was followed by a period of experimental river running, portrait painting, and then, finally, hardcore daily library blogging. The LBSG's faith in me has been extraordinary, and I like to think it's paid off quite well for them. But then there are several things I like to think that are completely unhinged, so this one could go either way. Still, it's not like they've revoked my grant. Surely that's some indication of satisfaction on their part.

So what do I get? I receive 38,000 dollars a year to pursue my artistic and other interests. I'm not rich, but to quote George Eliot again, it saves me "from the temptation of writing only for money."

You're thinking "Too good to be true!" But oh it is true. And there are no strings attached. Yes, sure, like any large scale grant there are little things like paperwork or teaching or public shows and performances. In my case I have to show up at the library 36 hours a week, but I'd probably do that anyway for background material. And I'm supposed to do customer service, shelve, operate machines, order supplies, and generally help make the library work, but only during the scant 36 hours a week that I'm there. The rest of the time I am completely free to devote myself to my interests. 

I know! Awesome.

Oh, one other little thing. I'm not supposed to let anyone know it's a grant. The terms of the grant require that I present myself as a "Clerk". I've never been entirely clear on the reasoning behind this provision, but I have suspected that it's sort of a Superhero thing. It's hardly a burden. I mean, who wouldn't want to be a superhero?


  1. Even squirrels are sometimes superheros

    1. Nope, I'm lost. I feel I shouldn't be, but there it is. I am.

      I researched squirrel superheroes and came up with a Marvel Super hero called Squirrel Girl. The whole wikipedia article read almost like a joke, but I think it was too long to actually be a joke. Squirrel Girl wasn't exactly a squirrel, but she had squirrel qualities and a strong alliance with squirrels. Her side kick, Tippy toe, was a squirrel, and side kicks to superheroes are superheroes so this fully supports your point.

      But I'm not sure what connection you're making to the piece above.

      Would you care to elaborate?


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