Archive for September 9th, 2011

On Communion Wafers and Time to Think

9 September 2011

By Christina Morin

I’m in the midst of writing a long overdue journal article, and, with the start of teaching looming ominously over me, I’m starting to feel the need for a metaphorical communion wafer to stick to my forehead. If that sounds odd, let me explain: my man Maturin was famously supposed to have fixed communion wafers to himself when he was writing in order to warn his family not to disturb him. Part of a myth of Maturin? Possibly, though Maturin certainly was well known for his histrionic eccentricities. Whatever the case, I’m very drawn to the idea of a specific sign that both attests to my concerted effort – no matter how much it might look like I’m simply dossing or staring off into space – and cautions colleagues against approaching me with unrelated work.

I’ve particularly felt the need for such a charm in the past few weeks. After attending an information session for the European Research Council’s new Starting Grants – mentioned in my recommendations for this month – I felt a growing sense of panic. On the one hand, I wondered, how could I not apply for such a significant amount of money and, perhaps more importantly, five more years of lucrative academic employment? On the other hand, when was I going to find the time to prepare such an application, especially when the instructions alone amount to a dizzying number of pages? As the wheels turned frantically in my head – how could I frame the project I had in mind in such a way as to make it more ERC friendly? Who could I contact to help me with my application? Was there anybody (preferably more senior) with whom I could forge a connection that would make the project more attractive? – I consulted a wise friend who has a habit of speaking reason to me in my (not infrequent) bouts of work-related panic. Read more