Following on from my last post: I did, indeed, forego the irritating semi-security of an ongoing p/t customer service job in order to take on an exciting short-term fractional research contract. Quitting felt great, even though the youth theatre tried to make me feel bad for leaving. The additional bit of research has been an extraordinary opportunity, and a great chance to do really unexpected things, but it’s too soon to tell whether any more work is going to happen.
I’ve also been advocating for myself - meeting with higher-ups and the university and asking for work, basically - and going along to research meetings and being visible. I’m being treated as if I’m going to be around long-term, but nothing’s materialised. (Academics is an incredibly silly industry.)
No regrets yet on deciding to go all-in on the academic thing. The youth theatre was an emotionally-draining place to work; I’ve heard from a now-ex-coworker that apparently the longer someone stays working for them, the ‘messier’ it is when they quit. Ugh, no thanks. (My exit was strange enough.) There was a lot of Emotion at that place, and the relief of being free from all that hasn’t been overwhelmed by the angst of having no continuing income in the new year.
I also haven’t lost the feeling that I’m building up some momentum on the academic side of things. I’ve got a couple of mid-career mentors (who offer overlapping and not contradictory advice), and a management-level professor willing to advocate for me. I’ve got an ambitious writing plan and a meeting later today to ask what kind of funding is available to achieve that. Hell, I’ve even said I’m willing to take on PhD students to (co-)supervise, which is something apparently they desperately need in this research centre.
So now, I'm in a position of piecing things together at one university, still teaching a bit at another university, working on developing the discipline to productively work from home, and gearing up for another round of job applications at other universities. I figure since I've got four years left on my UK visa (as of the end of this week), that's as good a deadline as I'm likely to get for seeing if I'm just treading water or if this is actually building to something. (I can't even start to consider what it'll be like to be an immigrant in the UK after another four years of this festering xenophobia and isolationism, or what state the university sector might be in...)