Once upon a time, as a callow young grad student, a professor whom I admired made me an offer: come work for ten hours a week as my research assistant on this nifty web project. I jumped at the chance: I could earn $100 extra a week (ask any grad student how much this can mean), and because it's related to Things Medieval, it could go on my CV. Plus, keep in mind, this was 1997, so working on a medieval web project was pretty novel, and I thought it would help when job market time came around (New media! Novel approaches to learning about the Middle Ages! She knows HTML as well as Latin!).
Fast forward to 2003. I get my Ph.D., and so am promoted from graduate assistant to assistant editor. This means that I keep working on the project, but am no longer eligible to be paid.
I have mixed feelings about Outside Project. On the one hand, it's only vaguely related to what I'm working on (say, I'm working on yams, then outside project is kale – they're both vegetables, but there's not much else overlap). As such, it's always on the back burner, because Outside Project is never going to get me tenure, or make me one thin dime. On the other hand, it is something I've been working on a long time, and I really do enjoy the people I work with, especially Project Director, who I has poured more of her time and energy into this than I thought one person actually had, and still manages to be a super-productive scholar. I even think occasionally about developing a project of my own around Outside Project, just because I've learned the resources inside and out because of it. The problem is, I have about half a dozen things I'm more interested in pursuing.
But… right now, Outside Project is undertaking Major New Initiative, and I'm more or less in charge of it. And I feel like I'm actually pulling my own weight a bit, and in a way that doesn't impinge too much on my writing time.
Speaking of which (thank you for asking!): that's coming along swimmingly. Saturday, I got another 600 words or so, and I'm counting on more tonight. I'm starting to feel like I have my shit coming together. My mantra over the past few days, no matter what I'm doing, has been "I can do this. [deep breath; more confidently:] I can do this."