After my rotations, I joined a lab and was ready to jump into experiments and get work done: Experiments! Data-collection! Manuscripts! However, I took an unexpected detour into the wonderful (hah!) world of grant writing, and spent my first month in my thesis lab writing a big grant with my boss. Even though (spoiler alert!) no one was beheaded, I still found the experience quite Dickensian.
Book the First – Recalled to Life
My research is about developing biomaterials for fetal surgery, so this is actually super appropriate since babies only undergo fetal surgery to save their life or organ function. Recalled to Life, indeed!
it was the age of foolishness, That would be me. There’s nothing like preparing a grant to give you a huge case of Imposter Syndrome. That dreaded monster reared his nasty head every day for a month! Every paper I read raised more questions. I had no idea what I was doing.
it was the epoch of belief, We are totally going to get this grant! Science! How could anyone not think fetal surgery is the awesomest. This grant is great. The science so solid. The ideas so unique. Hashtag fundable.
it was the epoch of incredulity, Why granting gods, oh why? Peer review will be a disaster. This is never going to fly. It’s due in 2 weeks and we still have so much to dooooooooo.
it was the season of Light, When I told them I was writing a grant, all my friends said “That sounds like a great learning experience.” I am beginning to realize that this is also a euphemism for “a lot of work.”
it was the season of Darkness, What the heck it’s 3 a.m. already?!
it was the spring of hope, Hoping that everything I write is right and that I didn’t make any million-dollar mistakes (actually, I have no idea how much money our grant asked for).
it was the winter of despair, Once, I spent an entire afternoon searching my laptop files for a crucial citation, only to realize days later that I had printed that article out and it had never been saved on my laptop in the first place.
we had everything before us, A month is so long. 13 pages?! We’ll be done in no time!
we had nothing before us, The first few draft back-and-forths with my boss took several days, but as the deadline approached nearer and nearer, the elapsed time between drafts shrank to nothingness as sleep debt grew infinite.
we were all going direct to Heaven, I think that in science heaven you never have to write grants.
we were all going direct the other way— After this, everything I will do in grad school will be a breeze!!
in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. If, under threat of guillotine, I had to choose a superlative degree of comparison to bestow upon the grant writing period, I would have to pick worst of times.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; My favorite TV show to binge watch while procrastinating writing this grant was actually The Royals, about a modern fictional British royal fam. It airs on the E! (Entertainment News!) channel, so that tells you how desperate things had gotten. The king has a large jaw, but the queen is a total hottie.
there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. You know the French saying: Liberty, Equality, Sisterhood! Huge shoutout to my roommates and labmates and all my girlfriends (and guy friends too!) who supported me and told me that this was a good learning experience – it definitely was! Not saying I’d love to do it again anytime soon, but it is now so nice to have a clear roadmap of my thesis project.
In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, I just pray that the lords of the State preserves of science funding find our grant proposal to be clearer than crystal.
that things in general were settled for ever. Or they will be if we get this grant and the 5 years of renewable funding that come with it.
Image credit: Gutenberg.org