I’m back, and I’ve had a great time, albeit at a fairly high cost. The USA doesn’t seem to eat cheaply, even if they do eat well. But it’s been good; my paper went well enough for me to be pleased, lots of people seemed interested and I know now what needs doing to it to make it good and hopefully very publishable. An earlier version of this nearly made it, after all, and it’ll be a lot better for this outing and the audience comments. Meanwhile, on the social side, it was fascinating to put faces to many names, and fellow bloggers Another Damned Medievalist and Matt Gabriele were especially good company, and along with Paul Hyams made the Saturday evening one of the most pleasant I can remember spending in a wine-bar ever. A full academic conference report will follow in due course, but I don’t have time to do it justice now.
I will just say though, as per the title, people now know me for this blog. Several people wanted to tell me they’d found it—one or two went on to add that they’d actually liked it once they had, or even less likely to my self-deprecating self, found it useful—and then, yesterday, I was at a Cambridge seminar which will, also, be reported on some day soon, at which Rosamond McKitterick passed comment on my recent comment on her earlier work, having also found me here. (We’re still on good terms, I hasten to add, and I probably only blanched slightly.) And then just now, at yet another seminar, which again you will hear of either from me or from Magistra et Mater, Jinty Nelson congratulated me on it. So I guess if the cat were in the bag, it is now out, and in the common manner of the Internet, the bag has burst in many places at once in inexplicable synchronicity.
All this worries me. It shouldn’t. This is exactly what I started this thing for, a cheap substitute for the oxygen of publication, and now that actual publication is looking closer than it has for ages despite the time I’ve put into the blog, it’s a silly time to have misgivings. All the same, I find it hard to shake fears that this looks like a trivial waste of time, at least on a UK/European academic scale. I’m pretty sure that this sometimes turgid blog is actually about as non-trivial as academic blogging gets, at least in terms of footnotes, but that too strikes me as missing my audience at times.
Anyway, the upshot is this. I’m not stopping now that it seems to be working, but the genuine academic scrutiny by people I know, respect and in some cases ask to write me references, has me feeling I need to take a bit more care with what I write. I have no shortage of stuff to say—as I type this it is one of nine draft posts I intend, two of which were already written up before I went to the USA. But, I feel that perhaps I should be less flip and off-the-cuff, especially where I’m commenting on others’ work, so these posts may take longer to appear than has usually been the case. There is also the issue that I have a book and, er, let’s say five? Currency, Aprisio, Sal·la, Ató, Ethnonyms, Legends… okay, six papers very close to the finish line and I want them all out, partly just because, but also because I feel some danger of seeing people say “hey, that guy with the blog has a paper in this journal! they let the amateurs in nowadays, huh?” when I originally wanted them, and want them, to say, “hey, that Jonathan Jarrett whose name I’ve seen in Journal of Excellent Studies (h/t Notorious Ph. D.) and Titulum Latinum and Earlier Than Thou has a blog! We should totally hire him!” And going to a conference where people mainly know me for the blog… just, well, felt a bit like a trap I need to work harder at escaping. So: keep an eye out, posts will continue. But I hope I can concentrate enough on other things meanwhile that I get some actual work out soon (I have been trying to find out what the holdups are with this this very night) and I’m going to see about letting that come first.
On this front, I returned home to find that Gaspar Feliu had kindly sent me still another clutch of offprints, including one that completely unlocks a slightly blocked-up paper which will now be the next thing I submit, so although I have done this many times before, and still think anyone interested in peasants should have already read all his stuff, may we please again sing the praises of both the historiography and kindness to foreign scholars of Prof. G. Feliu i Montfort, and I’ll be off now.