I have this romantic notion that after years of blogging I’ll suddenly turn into an accomplished wordsmith who can weave together arguments and stories. That obviously has not happened. If anything, my blog has reinforced many of the worst aspects of my writing style and done little to make my ideas or arguments more accessible.
A few months ago, I decided to write a “popular” article on “slow archaeology” for an issue of North Dakota Quarterly. I was pretty pleased with the results, but my editors were less than enthused. The editor noted that I fell pretty quickly into the plodding prose of academic writing after an honest effort to engage the reader with a vivid narrative at the start. In fact, she noted that the most interesting parts of my article were those enlivened by narrative whether of my harrowing ride from Hartford airport to Northampton after a heavy spring snow, in a car driven by an Australian expat or my colleague’s return to an intensive survey landscape in order to look up from his clipboard.
My editor also suggested that my contribution was too long.
So, I took my lovely article and began to shear away the buttoned down academic prose and leave the little narrative vignettes, and see if they can support the weight of my arguments.
Here is a draft: