Applications, supplications

The first couple of things on my todo list have been knocked off, and I’ve come into the office meanwhile. You get spoiled eventually living in Switzerland – the trains run on time, the wifi works even through most of the mountain tunnels, and it’s perfectly reasonable to start the workday well before you have actually arrived at work.

Not to mention the whole “excellent chocolate” and “gorgeous views of mountains everywhere” thing, of course.

It does feel rather as though I have been working nonstop for the last few weeks. This is largely to do with the funding application season, which for me began sometime in February and will draw to a close on Friday with the deadline for COST trans-domain proposals.

For me this is the first year that I have been eligible for project funding as opposed to early-career individual funding. I’ve been writing applications, rather than supplications, for once. Okay, my post-doctoral applications were never as pathetic as the word implies, but you do have to pour your soul into the early-career applications in a fairly exhausting way, when they are judged it feels like it is your personal worth being evaluated, and if you have the misfortune to live in the UK you have to be pathetically grateful if you receive any feedback whatsoever, because in general you do not. I think most of us who have been there writing those early-career applications did feel that, given the opportunity, we would get down on our knees and supplicate indeed.

But this year it’s different. I’m excited about the projects I have proposed / am proposing, but there is not this sense of desperation or question of scholarly self-worth bound up in the picture. And the effect of that was that these applications were much easier to get started on – I am more used to struggling and fretting for weeks and then writing most of the text in a blind panic, but it turns out that when my professional life doesn’t hang in the immediate balance then I can just sit down and write.

Of course I am glad for this but I also can’t help thinking it’s rather unfair to those who want to do this sort of project research but have not yet had the good fortune to land a workable post from which to do it. The problem of vanishing opportunities for academics to do the work they love to do is not a new one, and it has had plenty of attention already, but it is interesting how every now and then this personal realisation will dawn about yet another aspect of the whole.