On the two hundred and fifteenth day since this blog was five

You will have noticed that things have got a bit backlogged around here, but the old obsessive compulsive symptoms, as well as vague concern for anyone who might be trying to read the blog retrospectively, mean that I persist in trying to work through it chronologically. I originally set the stub up for this post just after the beginning of the year, when the WordPress statistics mailshot that is included below arrived and I realised that I had, again, missed the blog’s birthday. A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe began on 14th December 2006; it is now in its sixth year of operation.

This has been a weird year for the blog. I’ve not been posting as much, largely because I’ve found that to keep even vaguely up with all the things I’ve foolishly committed myself to and try and keep rallying with the e-mails which, if left unanswered, will cause professional problems, has meant that other things have to give way, and they have been mainly writing here, since I’ve also been trying to have a life of sorts outside the job. I also had something of a professional sink patch in the middle of the academic year; I was teaching at my best ever, I think, but finding it harder and harder to make time for my own work and thinking, because all I seemed to have spare time for was the editing and admin stuff I’d promised to do for other people, not least the dead ones. Somewhere in there I found that I was no longer asking questions at seminars and that none of my personal projects had moved forward in a while. I stopped offering conference papers: I had nothing left in the tank that wasn’t a full-size research project which I had no time to start, and I didn’t want to amass more useless junk which was only interesting to an audience because they know nothing about my area. So I felt a bit stuck. A colleague of mine, some years before, who had just landed a permanent job despite having no publications – nice trick if you can do it – confessed to me shortly afterwards that they were worried that they had burned out, and I didn’t understand how that could be possible at their stage. Suddenly I have some idea.

Grotesque from the Catedral de Sant Pere, Vic, now in the Museu Episcopal

Grotesque from the Catedral de Vic, now in the Museu Episcopal

BUT! I’m pleased to say that this has now changed. In the slightly-easier summer term, I did what may seem foolish and set to reading a shed-load more charters, the most exposure to primary source material I’ve been able to manage since I was actually doing my doctorate. This has raised about a hundred new and old questions and I have ideas again, will be offering papers (indeed, already did, somewhat unwisely given what I will have to do to make it worth giving) and now have plans for far too many publications. I am trying to focus on two at a time and to kill off the various bits of editing and then accept no more than one of those at a time thereafter. (I currently have four.) And, most relevant for you guys, I have forty-five posts in some sort of draft, not counting seminar reports, even if most of them are only stubs containing an idea and even if three of them are probably going to become publications instead of blog posts, now that they’re written up and look more serious than I’d expected. I am still having trouble finding time to write here, and even more trouble trying to catch up with other bloggers’ output, but there is at least plenty yet to say and I hope you’ll hang around for it.

If you happen to look at the numbers page that’s linked from the below excerpt, by the way, you may notice three things, or at least I do. The simple and mundane one is that 2011 was the blog’s best ever year, and that’s rather pleasing. I already know that 2012 will not match it, because of my decreased posting I suppose; I suspect I have the same number of readers but I’m just making you load pages less often! But it’s good. The second thing is that the websearches that bring people here are now, by and large, ones that might give them useful results here; I advise all medievalists to write about the Treaty of Verdun and motte-and-bailey castles! Because of these factors, nothing new that I write ever does as well, but that’s fine; there are many ways to find this blog useful I hope. The third thing, though, is the commentators. Somewhere during 2011, we reached a point where I no longer had to keep conversations going in the comments, because the people here were talking to each other. I would log back in and find that other people had answered commentator’s questions, generously and helpfully. Occasionally commentators would solve historical problems I’d raised before I could even get home. (This was the best case: thankyou Alex Woolf and Joan Vilaseca for that, who could possibly only have got into conversation here.) I’m absurdly pleased about this, it’s what a discussion space on the web should be like, it’s made me a lot more positive about the value of blogging in academia as forthcoming publications will record, and it’s really not me who’s done this, it’s you fine people. So thank you all, especially those whom WordPress’s numbers show to be the most talkative but also all others too, anyone who checks in and has something to say. I will keep you posted.

And here’s the WordPress automagical review of 2011 in these parts in case you’re interested

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 150,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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10 responses to “On the two hundred and fifteenth day since this blog was five

  1. Pingback: student blogs « Revealing Words

  2. Congrats on all fronts Jon. First, this blog is a real paradigm of how academic blogging can and should be, and a credit to you and all who join the conversation. Over the years I’ve come to think of it rather like a favourite seminar, rather than purely a newsreel. Second, even though I at least (and probably everyone) will miss the diversion/stimulation of the thoughts appearing here, it’s great that you’ve got more pubs in the pipeline. Huzzah for intellectual energy!

  3. Congratulations on six years! I agree with Kath that this place really does show how well the online world can work for fostering conversation and thought. Glad to hear that diving back into the charters has re-inspired you.

  4. Congratulations on 5 years plus 215 days, and thank you for this blog post. It’s encouraging to me because I feel like I’m fighting burnout as well. I finished my PhD a year and a half ago and I still don’t have an academic post. So when I’m not working one of my three non-academic part-time jobs I’m usually filling out job applications. After that, I find it difficult to muster the energy or motivation necessary to conduct my own research, especially since I currently have no institutional affiliation which hinders access to journals, etc., even though I know that I need to keep going so that I can publish and thus increase my chances of landing a post. Reading about your struggles with competing priorities and workloads gives me hope. Thank you!

    • The problem of whether to work on a publication or deal with a job application is one that I am all too familiar with, Michael. But it is crucial, and I wish you all luck with it. The research has to be its own reward, I’m afraid, but on the other hand if it weren’t, we none of us would do it would we? This isn’t really a career strategy anyone could recommend for its prospects… Hang in there, and get your words onto people’s radars.

  5. Thankyou, all three of you! And don’t give up on me, Kath, I’m not going to get any less frequent in posting…

  6. Pingback: The awesomeness of implied landscape | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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