The day I returned from April vacation, following our embryo adoption decision, our staff at school received an email from our assistant principal telling us about an opportunity for teachers wishing to pursue a professional dream to apply for a Rotary Grant. This was serendipitous to say the very least. How could I spend five or $10,000 in one year and connect this idea of being a teacher to me writing a young adult fiction novel?
Enter Plymouth State University stage left. My advisor, Meg, whom I had worked with before for the New Hampshire Writing Projects (Teachers who Write and Writers who Teach), suggested I create a 12 credit Capstone project as a graduate student. I had already completed graduate school and a masters of education as a reading specialist, but she was more than willing to take me on. Other funding, I argued, would go to paying for childcare so that I could, in fact, finish a book in one academic school year. The cool part was yet to come in the application process.
One of the questions asked how this would benefit my students, and I realized that I could incorporate authentic reading, writing, and revision processes for them to help once my draft began to take shape. Furthermore, I asked my sophomores at the time, now freshmen in college mostly, if some would be willing to write my letters of recommendation. For someone who has always written letters of recommendation for other people, reading letters of current students about why I deserved this grant was pretty awesome. And, when it came to making the decision amongst the finalists for the grant, it was explained to me that my student letters of recommendation are what became the deciding factor for choosing my project.
Instead of giving out two $5,000 grants to deserving educators, they were so blown away by my concept they decided to give me the entire budgeted grant monies totaling $10,000. This occurred the first weekend in July, and the next week the writing began…but there was a timeline, and I needed to finish the novel in one academic school year leaving me just nine months, which, incidentally, is the same amount of time a baby should grow inside a mother’s womb. Coincidence? I think not…