the satisfactions of submission

What did I get up to over the Easter weekend this year?

Yup, crankin’ out a grant application, because academia is a harsh mistress, and I choose to abase myself in the hope of her favour.

Thanks to slightly improved process management protocols on my part (read as: keeping track of when I do what I do, and for how long), I now have an answer to the question “how long does it take to write a grant application, anyway?” That answer is “about 30 hours”—though it bears noting that the requirements of funders vary hugely when it comes to the amount of written material required (FORMAS, for instance, want a lot less from you than the ERC, but then they’re offering smaller amounts), and further that those are hours of actual drafting and writing, and don’t include the (effectively unmeasurable) hours of actually thinking up the project idea in the first place.

It’s because of the latter that you couldn’t just string the former together into one working week of doing nothing else but writing a grant. Or, well, you could do that, and I believe people quite often do—I don’t think it a coincidence that FORMAS puts these deadlines right after the long weekend at the start of spring!—but it would be a pretty unpleasant slog of a week, and you wouldn’t have the bonus time for your subconscious to work out the kinks while you’re doing something else.

(You would also lack the time for things serendipitously encountered in the course of your current research to provide you with the hook or connective concept that turns an interesting but vague idea into an actual project, which was definitely the case here: I only became properly aware of the actual site/case at the heart of this application a couple of weeks back.)

Well, then—now begins the long wait to see if I can convince a panel of reviewers as well as I can convince myself. I’ll know whether I succeeded or not by late November… by which time I may (or may not!) have heard whether I got anywhere with the job applications I did back in January.

Bleurrrgh, why exactly is it that I want to be an academic anyway? Oh, I remember—it’s because, for all the bureaucratic hoopla that comes with it, it’s still the only job I’ve had that I feel like I’m good at, and actually enjoy doing. No tiny violin here; I’ve chosen to play roulette at this particular table, and I’ve chosen to bet everything I have. If I don’t come out on top, it won’t be for lack of my giving the wheel a good spin.

Selah! Now that’s out of the way, I can get on with the book chapter that’s due in *checks calendar* oh, seventeen days…

(EXIT, stage left, pursued by deadlines, but still smiling)

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