I have a friend. A good friend. A friend in his mid-60s. A friend who is a lawyer and works his ass off. He is in single practice, not even a paralegal. That means when he doesn't work, and doesn't bill, he doesn't get paid. He says that he is finally old enough that he doesn't have to spend 30% of his time finding business, although 30% of the business that finds him won't pay in the end.
I was talking about the amount of time I spend writing grants. I've submitted 1 or 2 at each deadline for the last year or so. At my new almost-MRU medical school, I'm 40-60% research, and I'm still expected to generate that much salary. His view, as someone who supports the mission of the NIH, is that what I do is insane. It's like Obama filing his own paperwork or typing his own memos, he says. Its like giving someone a sapphire-bladed scalpels (I actually have one of these babies, it is so very fine), and telling them to fix the sink or the sidewalk.
For us, though, the ones writing the endless stream of grants, it is grinding. It's depressing and it's scary. I won't pretend that as a senior person it is as scary as it is to my junior colleagues. It's not. But its not a good feeling, both not being funded and having to write and write and write for every deadline.
But it's still depressing.