let it be here acknowledged that I am terrible at saying no. I am so flattered by the idea of having a say that I have been loathe to say no to ANYTHING, particularly when my own voice might be considered useful to the discussion at hand.
This has occasionally bitten me in terms of service, but I am realizing that it has the potential to become a problem for my research as well.
Over the past few years, I've been solicited to do a few things--talks, reviews, etc.--that have in and of themselves been productive (like the plenary I gave last spring, or the talk for Nels Highberg's series this spring). I could argue that in both of these cases, the single project led to work that might have momentous effects on my future research agenda. I can hardly say i'd rather not have done them.
But the book review on a playwright I'd just discovered, and who is only tangentially related to my work? maybe less so. And that kept me from working on the book for two weeks.
I've just gotten a request to write a response essay for an article. The article is written by someone with whom I've had some small contact, very positive, and who could potentially be an external reviewer for my tenure file. The play she writes about appears in my book, and she directly references the article that was pulled from that manuscript. All of this says, "Go ahead! Do it!"
But...the turnaround is quick, even for only 4000 words, and the journal is a small European publication that I've never heard of. The publication is only a drop in the bucket for my tenure case or my annual review file (minor point, I know). And here's the kicker. Those 4000 words for the response essay are 4000 words not written for the book. And with a bit om momentum generated towards getting back on that horse, I think this just might be precisely the wrong way to be spending my writing time...
So I'm thinking of declining the invitation. What do you think? Am I crazy?