There's only so many words one can write in a day. Maybe that's part of the reason my blog posts are normally just a few paragraphs, but many of my writing hours in the last few years have been burned up on grant proposals. There's always another opportunity or pot of money that looks accessible to try for so that you can keep the lab wheels turning. Crap funding rates drive more proposals and so the cycle marches forth.
The cost of the proposal churn is our publication rate*. I'm not happy with it. The blame for the glacial pace falls squarely on my desk, too. I am the limiting reagent. We have some manuscripts moving through the system right now and a few more working their way there. But damn.
The more people I talk to in my cohort who are facing a tenure decision soon, the more I see a dichotomy of time spent. Most people either lament their publication or funding record as they reach this stage. We've made our choices on how time was spent and I have no idea if one is better than another. Sometimes you choose a strategy and sometimes you have less control over how that ball bounces.
Ironically, I know for certain that I've been invited for collaborations, conference and seminar talks based on what we've had in review. At one point I was asked to come give a talk on a topic we had zero publications on, but two proposals in review about. I guess that speaks to the level of preliminary data required these days, but also to the possibility that proposal review in a bit on an "online early" for ideas. Yet another reason to get involved in the review process.
*Yes, I realize this was specifically cited as a reason for NSF cutting back the proposal writing and reviewing load on the community. It's a benefit of the new system, even if I wish we didn't have to go to 1 cycle a year.