Author Archive: Stanley

Writers’ Rights

I am not an expert on writers’ rights. These are only my thoughts on the subject.

Lately, I have listened to podcasts and read articles about writers’ rights. Whenever a writer completes a story, an essay, poem, or other form of writing, at that moment the author holds all the rights to what they created. They decide how their work is published and in what form with what type of compensation.

Many years ago, authors granted rights to have their work printed in a book or a magazine. The fortunate ones sold movie or TV rights. There were also audio rights to sell. Today, technology has created many rights that an author can sell such as electronic or digital.

As a writer (like all writers), I have two things to sell when I finish a body of written work. The product which I wrote (novel, short story, etc.) and the rights to that work.

I would never consider selling “all rights” to my work and neither should any writer. In today’s digital world, I do not think a reputable publisher would want “all rights.” Also, there are other repercussions to selling “all rights.”

Besides owning all future money, the publisher also owns the author’s reputation. That work can appear in any publication anywhere. In the music industry, many musicians cringe at their work used to sell things they do not support.

I think rights are more valuable than money or publication. It is better not to be published rather than sell all the rights to what I wrote.

Of course, some rights could be sold on a limited basis. Afterall, the publisher needs to make money, too. However, I would always have some control over what I wrote.

One of the Best Relationships

The best relationships between a foundation and nonprofit are long lasting. This involves years of sharing in the success and accomplishment of the nonprofit’s mission with the foundation’s goals. Many times, this is a challenge to achieve.

Foundation members want to tell their stakeholders how they helped the nonprofit. Staff on the nonprofit want to tell board members how they got money. Both organizations may have a shared belief in the mission, but the goal becomes to promote themselves.

While foundations and nonprofits should use the grant process to self-promote, the mission can become a lower priority. Egos get involved.

People want credit for their efforts. They want others to know they accomplished something positive. While self-promotion provides motivation, the mission should not be lost in the bragging.

Of course, there can be success with only egos. I experienced this while working in the Pentagon. This type of self-relationship assumes a strong level of cruelty and coldness. There can be some level of limited success, yet it is never long lasting.

When egos and self-promotion become too important, the relationship becomes strained and can end. It is a benefit for two organizations to know and understand each other with the intent that both will be around for many years.

A good, long lasting relationship is the most important asset of any organization.

Why Write

Sometimes I think I take a break from writing and zone out by giving in to some electronic device or the TV. I do nothing extraordinary for writing. This lasts just a short time and I am energized to write again. Or, maybe I was just lazy.

What is the desire to write? This has plagued writers for millennium and they have written about it trying to understand their motivation. Some believe it is their ego calling out to be heard. I think that when I am writing I’m trying to tell myself something. Apparently, I am not listening to myself since I continue to write.

Some people become intimidated by their writing. They cannot believe they wrote that well and maybe they will not again. The fear of never producing something readable can be intimidating. Yet, the bigger fear is that no one will read what is written.

Fears aside, when I write I look for something different. A need to explore an alternative place in time and space that breaths without movement. A world in a universe with alien purpose. This is why I try not to write in the simple genres.

I like exploring the universe(s) without boundaries. As long as what I write is readable to someone.

So, when I take a break from writing, I am not really taking a break. I am only taking a breath in my mind and realizing that what I wrote needs editing so it would be readable.

How I learned to write grants

When I worked for the U.S. Defense Department, each fall I helped build the defense budget for the next fiscal year. Me and thousands of others. The process we used was identical to writing and submitting grants.

It began with military organizations (like a nonprofit) identifying their unfunded needs. I summarized the unfundeds in issue papers, which had almost the same format as a grant request. I submitted the issue papers to the comptroller organization who considered funding the request (like a foundation would).

After many years, I learned to marry the unfunded needs with current politics and projected Defense Department requirements. In the issue papers, I put in key words the comptroller organization and politicians were looking for and addressed the new priorities of the administration. I altered the unfunded needs only enough to be acceptable to the comptroller organization. Yet, not enough to change the submitting organization’s ability to complete the mission. I use this process today.

The most important thing I learned in the Defense Department, which I apply to writing grants, is that the process is not about numbers and words. It is all about people and relationships. Whenever there is money involved, there are a lot of competition. The perfect issue paper or grant request may not be enough.

A nonprofit should communicate with a foundation with more than some pieces of paper. Like it was for me in the Defense Department, many times personal contact can determine success or not.

Let me know how you, as a grant writer, started your career or livelihood writing grants.