And after a few weeks off and some really lazy Easter antics… I ‘resurrected’. I did it in the back of both good and bad news, but for today, I will only focus on the good stuff. The bad stuff, in the end, has not turned out to be so bad, and it has been positively embedded in the good news. Let me try to be more specific and clearer about what I mean.
Two weeks ago I was told I had been given a scholarship for a project I submitted a few weeks ago. The awarding body is essentially the agents of the polysystem I am currently working on, and it’s meant to take on the project I have been working on for months, and give it a financial push.
This is great news because the Mongrel PhD in me thinks that, at least, half of this year’s university fees will be paid within the next few months and I will be able to breathe out of my overdraft for a couple of months before taking one final plunge into the fee-paying/overdraft pool. I say this many times to my colleagues, but having experienced both sides of the coin, I prefer being short of time than being short of money – time can be expensive, but it definitely does not pay the bills. So getting this award/scholarship is great news from this particular point of view.
The most important thing, however, is not about my temporary exit of the red number balance club. This is an award given to researchers in the field of Catalan studies, about a very specific historical time, and normally involving a particular author, which up until recently, was the main author in my thesis. This is the second time I receive this funding. The project this time is even better than last time around, so I am hoping it will receive even better feedback. I have been assigned a tutor for this, someone who is, very obviously, an agent of the Catalan polysystem. A great authority in the field, who thought that my project was worth investing in. I cannot put into words how much that means to my research. In the last few months of the year (particularly after my first ever article was badly rejected), it became very obvious that my post-doctoral life was outside academia – within an HEI setting, but not as a researcher.
One of the reasons behind it was the lack of funding in Britain anyway. This award is important in many ways, but particularly in the sense that having two funded projects by the Institute of Catalan Studies can only mean that they trust me to deliver as a researcher and that I am good enough to be doing what I am doing, despite certain doubts around the edges.
I can see the irony in all this – perhaps if I was doing my research somewhere else, I would become an academic. The legitimization of my research, this nod of approval from those in a really high status withing my field, is a big deal. And if I was completely over the moon the first time around, this second time around is even better.
Going back to what I outlined at the beginning, the ‘bad news’ of the last month were that my chapter three was, after all the efforts, a piece of unreadable, dodgy research. I need to revisit some of the points and I have taken a completely different approach, an approach that my supervisors have blessed as the potential proof of ‘having found my own academic voice’. This is quite a painstaking process, particularly when my change of direction means that this will no longer be part of my final thesis. However, this is the project that has received the award, making it very much worthwhile to keep on working on it, and grinding through the process, never mind how hard I find it.
The award has provided clarity to my next few months – this project will be done then, and after that I can move into the reality of building the first chapter of my thesis. But at least I know that re-drafting this project for the third time in six months is not a wast of time, but an investment in money. And with those good news, I roll on and start preparing my Annual Progress Review and the defense of my new structure, which will see me put 40,000+ words into the shredder.
Wish me luck.