I closed AcWriMo with a trip to Oxford. It’s neces­sary for what I’m writ­ing because the ori­ginal archae­olo­gical reports for some sites are from the 1920s or earlier. There were very few Archaeology depart­ments in the coun­try at the time, so there’s good reason why some of these reports are not widely pub­lished by mod­ern standards.

They also have some use­ful books like the BTCGI, Bibliografia topo­grafica della col­onizza­zione greca in Italia e nelle isole tir­reniche. This is a col­lec­tion reports about work done in Italy. The title says it’s about Greek sites, but it takes in nat­ive sites like Cefalù too. The value of the books is the bib­li­o­graphy at the end that lists the papers that dis­cuss a site. The series is a massive pro­ject and the early volumes are more out of date than the later volumes, but they remain a valu­able short-​​cut to find out where the ori­ginal excav­a­tion reports are.

Pages from the bibliography for Cefalù in the BTCGI

Reports on mater­ial con­nec­ted to Cefalù.

I also hoped to be able to down­load some papers. The National Library of Wales gives free access to a large chunk of JSTOR if you live in Wales. It means I don’t have to travel across the coun­try to access it. However, not all papers are access­ible. The pub­lish­ers don’t mind me read­ing the papers for free, just that I have to be in a magical place to do so. I dis­covered that in one case neither the print nor elec­tronic ver­sions of a recent book chapter were access­ible in Oxford. If your elec­tronic papers are not access­ible in one of the richest uni­ver­sit­ies in the world, I think it’s time to ask if what you’re doing with them really is pub­lish­ing. If I’d had the sense to look up the book on WorldCat, I would have seen the closest phys­ical copy is in Mainz.

It meant the day ended with a slight fail­ure, and in some ways that’s true for the month. I didn’t com­plete the goal I’d set for myself. However, in not meet­ing that goal I found some­thing that will vastly improve the next paper I write — so it’s a use­ful upbeat failure.

Slightly more wor­ry­ing is that I wasn’t able to cre­ate a routine to help build a writ­ing habit. Nothing I tried worked with that. I sat down to try the Pomodoro tech­nique. This is where you work for 25 minutes and take a five minute break. I could only get 20 minutes into that before I had to deal with a build­ing prob­lem. I’ve also been dis­rup­ted by med­ical news say­ing that I’m not quite as well as I thought. It turns out there’s ongo­ing issues with the can­cer. They’re not at all life-​​threatening, but it’s more dis­rup­tion. For example, I’m the only per­son I know who’s been given a routine to work through to pre­pare for blood test. It’s not ardu­ous, but it takes time. Living in the Cambrian Mountains means that med­ical trips to remote places like Cardiff take hours, effect­ively wreck­ing the whole day for work. These sound like good reas­ons, but the build­ing will be fin­ished soon and the next prob­lem will be vis­it­ing rel­at­ives. I’ll find out if these issues really were reas­ons or just excuses.

Looking at the month as a whole I’m much more pos­it­ive, in con­trast to many blog­gers. There is a healthy boost to cer­tain blog­gers dur­ing *WriMo where they can com­plain about it. There is an argu­ment that quant­ity is to the det­ri­ment of qual­ity and prov­ing this there was an abund­ance of quant­ity in neg­at­ive blog posts. I think that misses the point, *WriMo is not simply about quant­ity, there’s a com­munal ele­ment at the same time. This goes double for AcWriMo because, real­ist­ic­ally every month should be AcWriMo. What the event does is give an entry point to read­ing about exper­i­ences and shar­ing tips. The #AcWriMo streams on Twitter and Google+ have both been very help­ful for that.

If there is a habit then it’s the pro­cess of reflect­ing on writ­ing that’s help­ful. Being aware of how much I hate some parts of writ­ing has helped me work out what I par­tic­u­larly don’t like — and that’s the first step to fix­ing the prob­lem. I am won­der­ing about set­ting up a writ­ing journal on Penzu.

The final meas­ure is pretty easy. Yes, I’ve writ­ten more than I would have without tak­ing part, but that doesn’t mat­ter. From work­ing through a prob­lem in writ­ing may next piece will be writ­ten bet­ter, but that doesn’t mat­ter either. The one meas­ure that mat­ters is that I’m hap­pier for hav­ing taken part in the event. That’s what matters.

I’ll also be spend­ing a bit more time read­ing PhD2Published, where AcWriMo started.

See also Donna Maria Alexander’s post To Conclude: Academic Writing Month and Me.

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