If my blog was a plant it would have died by now…

I mentioned on Twitter last weekend that I’d been having a bit of a sorting out few days, and that I’d blog again soon.

Didn’t happen. Sorry about that. I had gotten into the habit of writing little and often, as Tom G so wonderfully advised me in the early days of my move to the Netherlands. But I’ve hardly written anything here since July and my post-fieldwork update. This happens for several reasons, the most pertinent of which is that I’ve had a bit of a tough time health-wise for the last couple of months, and also dealing with homesickness, academic confidence issues and a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m not going into here. As I’ve said before, I don’t do blogging as therapy. I sometimes do blogging as thinking out loud about stuff, but I really try not to spill my guts out here in public.

So, not so much navel gazing!

I think I’ve been a bit preoccupied with writing too well. I’ve been writing my second ever academic paper. The first one was about my MSc research at Greenham common (linked to from a recent post I think) and it was quite a different creature than the current one. I was working with a very experienced academic and I had a section of the paper I was responsible for, and she really helped me a lot with writing it well. We collaborated on the other parts and I learned a lot from her about the experience. The paper didn’t go into a lot of technical detail and was about conveying and experience rather than results and theories. This one is a radically different little monster. I am working on publishing the results of the geophysical work done before I joined the project; so categorically it is other people’s data and ideas. I have to work out what to leave in, what to praise, what to be critical of, all for two different groups of people I really admire. I need to describe what they found out and how I’m going to use it, at the same time as conveying how important I think our work is, for Mediterranean archaeology, and for geophysics. All a bit scary then.

So I’ve been a bit hung up on getting it ‘right’. Luckily my new boss has the patience of a saint and is helping me a lot. I was also given really good advice by some academics I really respect at ISAP in Turkey this time last month, so I am also cracking on with writing similar papers to publish the most important results from my PhD fieldwork. The plan is to get the results out there, and then write a longer synthesis paper to pull everything together.

It’s all been a bit tough emotionally though, which I find really bloody frustrating. This is my chosen career. I know I can do it; some very smart people decided I am good enough to have the letters ‘PhD’ so I can’t really argue with that. I just wish that writing about it wasn’t like pulling my own teeth out with pliers. I know all of the advice; I even give it out to fellow students. Write what you know; do the bits you know backwards, like your methodology and results. Once you start somewhere it will flow. Don’t start at the beginning; it puts too much pressure on you to be awesome. Write anything. Write a list. Write about what you ate yesterday; write anything to break the block. I do all of these tricks and it is still like blood from a stone.

Which I guess is a roundabout explanation for why I’ve not really felt up for more writing, more staring at the blank screen wondering what to say to you all about how I have been spending my time.

So. Write anything. Write a list. Here is a list of things I want to blog about, in no particular order. Let’s see how many I can do in the next few weeks!

ISAP, Turkey- an amazing geophysics conference, probably the best I’ve been to (I went to ISAP ’07 and presented at ISAP ’09 as well). I owe you all a conference write up.

CAA 2012 – I somehow managed to agree to run a round-table at CAA and I’d like to write about what I hope the archaeogeophysics community could get out of it

Running- I started running in July. It really works in terms of weight loss and mood lifting. I don’t want to become a scary evangelist for jogging though, so I’ll keep this one brief.

Poems- I’ve been wanting to write creatively for a while now, but this obsession with perfection I mentioned earlier has been holding me back. I just need to let go and see what happens. I’m not promising to post the results, but I might try to write about the process.

I went to Noorderlicht; the photography festival I mentioned in my last post. It was amazing and I want to respond to it somehow. It is partly why I have been wanting to write poems I think.

The ‘Occupy’ protests- not from a political standpoint, but from an archaeological one. Technologies of resistance, archaeologies of defiance. Cultural responses and replies. Acting, presence, participation and power. Being queer and queering protest. This might be a tricky one as I am more than 5 years out of date on all my reading, but it’s important to me to try to articulate some stuff.

I’m off to update the few 365 pictures I managed to take this week. I’ll be in the UK next week and the week after so that should be a chance to take plenty more. I don’t know when I’ll get to writing the posts I mention above, but I’ll try harder to be present here. Perhaps breaking the glass and writing here will help with the papers?