Doing a PhD is a bit like a (three year) marriage. There is a honeymoon period where you love your research with every fibre of your being, and are willing to gloss over any potential issues. It excites you, makes you nervous, and you believe in happily-ever after. Next is the nesting stage. You and your PhD are happy to spend time together. You communicate freely; it’s still organic and the habitual routine of sitting with it every day is something that you still look forward to. Over time this changes. You and your PhD begin arguing. There are things you don’t like about your PhD and things you wish you could change. You are jealous of other people’s PhDs and wish your PhD was more like theirs. The passion is now sporadic. Doubt creeps in. You question your commitment. And like any relationship reaching crisis point, a choice presents itself; you either work through your issues or decide to move on.
So guess which stage I am at. Yup, the ‘this could all end in divorce’ stage. I still love my PhD. It’s intriguing, interesting and relevant. The problem is that some days it just seems really really hard. As soon as I think I am gaining insight, new challenges emerge, my brain fights all it can to understand, and then decides it has better things to do and shuts down. Often these days are infused with frustration and end in eye leakage.
Creativity is such a complex, dynamic and mind-boggling subject to study in the contemporary world, let alone in Prehistory. Sometimes in my research I flit between concluding that everything is creative or that nothing is creative! Yet no matter how hopeless it seems, I am stubborn and the difficultly of the task at hand actually spurs me on. Clarity is restored when I remember why I wanted to be an archaeologist in the first place. What’s important to me is that I give the people of the past a voice and narrate their story with as much detail as I can ascertain. I may not be able to give definitive answers, but I can still conscientiously shed some light on prehistoric makers and keep people at the centre of my interpretations.
So my choice has been made and it’s time to renew my vows. I, Sarah Coxon, do take thee Creativity in the Bronze Age PhD to be my lawfully wedded thesis. Although hopefully not until death do us part…..