History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Day Job + Writing = Story Ideas?

Cover art for Unfixed TimelinesBefore I moved to Seattle, I was pretty sure that archaeology was EXACTLY like it looks in the movies, all digging up ancient civilizations and running around lost temples. No, wait, maybe that’s just how Indiana Jones makes archaeology look cool in the movies.

When I moved here, I started working with archaeologists, and though I don’t get to go out into the field with them, I’ve still learned a bit about what they do and why they do it in that way.

So early on when I started writing, I wrote a story about an archaeologist who uncovered an unusual place in the desert. That became “Donning the Helm,” which was originally a part of In Situ, an anthology of stories about aliens and archaeology. It’s appeared in a few other places since then and is also included in Unfixed Timelines, along with an essay about the history of archaeology.

While the characters in my story aren’t doing the same sort of work that my co-workers do, the story was still loosely inspired by being around a bunch of archaeologists, along with my illusions about what archaeology is like. But it turned out to be an okay story that people have enjoyed. And it’s not one that I would have written if I hadn’t been exposed to real archaeology!

Regardless of the field you work in, there may be story seeds just waiting for you to pick them up and make them into something amazing, like a bit of grit that gets into an oyster’s shell and becomes a pearl!

(As an aside, archaeology in the Pacific Northwest tends to be a lot less dusty than that in the Middle East. Also, mud. The one time I’ve gotten to visit a site, I had to buy rain boots, which was a good thing, since they were covered about 2/3 of the way up with mud by the time we were done. It was pretty gross, from my perspective!)

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