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Inaugural Post

January 16, 2009

Four and a half months into my one year masters program, I am finally sitting down and, hopefully, starting to write regularly. That is what this blog is for, writing practice. I’ve spent the past 8 years or so not writing much at all, and it shows. Both the writing projects I’ve had for school so far have been difficult to start. Once I do manage to start, things seem to go well, although I never have time for more than the first draft, not good practice (not that I’ve ever had much success doing more than that). I’d compare my current writing practices with those of a palaeolithic hominid who can make a fire, but really isn’t good at it. The act of writing is the fire in this case. I get out my flint and tinder and I will spend hours striking flints, but the tinder never catches from the sparks. Finally, I do manage to get a fire going, but by then it’s almost dawn and I’m tired and cranky and can’t benefit from the fire very much.

So, my intention is to start making daily entries here, disregarding any thoughts to their quality. Mostly, I plan to write about archaeology and elide any crap about my daily life, since in addition to honing my skills and habits at writing, the act of writing is also intended to tease out my thoughts about my chosen field, something I’ve been needing to do as the need to craft a thesis topic is looming over me.

I also need to start developing better reading habits. I’ve read hardly anything I’ve wanted to about archaeology so far, other than technical manuals, which are helpful, but don’t really inform me about what’s going on or what’s being discovered. I seem to have gotten a leg up in this realm too, at last. I’m currently reading The Languages of Archaeology by Rosemary A. Joyce, et al., a nice theory-ful tome about how archaeologists construct narratives in their writing. Am I obsessing about my ability to write? You betcha. One can get like that when one doesn’t have any sort of feedback. I’m still waiting for my marks on my first essay. It would have been nice to have gotten those and comments (don’t have those either) before I had to turn in my second bit of writing yesterday.

Our current term is starting out with a focus on prehistoric Britain. Now, I’d thought I’d be all over that, as I have been really intrigued while reading about the likes of Avebury and other henge monuments. But a lot of the time, I’ve been finding prehistoric stuff to be a snoozefest. I think it’s a matter of how things are approached. Some lectures have taken on a very straightforward processual and structuralist approach, and when you break things down and go over a bunch of examples of cereal cultivation all over the place, you tend to lose any sense of the lives of actual people living their life in a particular time and place. I really need to sit down and actually read some Tilley and some critiques of Tilley, so I can actually get a handle on that, else I’m won’t be able to do much more than bloviate.

Something else I’ve been realizing is that if I got into prehistoric archaeology, I’d not have as many opportunities to go rooting around in records offices, which has been something I’ve found I get a lot of pleasure from. Historical archaeology may just end up being where it’s at for me, if my eyeballs don’t fall out while I try to read an 18th century will first.

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