I'm sure many of you have heard the fascinating but possibly dubious claim that after a woman gives birth, her brain undergoes an evolutionarily advantageous set of changes that cause her to forget the excruciating pain of labor, lest she be deterred from future attempts at reproduction. Not having given birth myself, I cannot speak from experience with regards to the validity of such a phenomenon. But I've been wondering recently if there genuinely isn't a similar thing going on after a person writes a grant.
The outpouring of encouragement after my last post motivated me to take another crack at the BRAINS RFA, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't struggling. I have the Aims written, and I know all the important points I want to make, sort of, but I'm having trouble getting words on paper. Like, it's in my brain, but my brain can't organize itself to form coherent thoughts.
So I look at my R21 for inspiration, and not to brag or anything, but that is a well-written grant. It's like this beautiful story about everything that's wrong with my field, and how my project will come along and fix all the things, and all my arguments are written with such conviction, you know? And I try to remember what it was like writing that grant--did the genius just flow through my fingertips and into my MacBook? Or was it a struggle like the current one is, full of much ceiling-staring, junk food eating, and typing-then-deleting, ad nauseum?
And the truth is, I can't remember. When I think about it, I don't recall feeling nearly as frustrated and hopeless as I do now. Maybe that's because it was a simpler grant, or because I wasn't also running a lab and teaching and planning a wedding at the same time. Maybe I've lost my mojo. Or maybe I did struggle just as much--but then, sometime over the summer, grant-induced amnesia set in, preventing me from accurately recalling what an absolute fucking ordeal putting a grant together is.
With looming October and November NIH deadlines, I know a lot of you are also in the thick of it--feel free to use the comments space to vent, share tips for staying calm, Adderall sources (jk Drugmonkey!), etc. Hang in there!