Jan
28

Writing style

I’ve found that my writing process is slightly strange. I’m now at page 50 on my first chapter, and I’m not done! One of the things that I like to do is to really get into the ‘how’ of why something happens. For Courriéres, this means understanding the history of miners, the development of mining communities, the labor movement, internationalization, syndicalism, etc. I’m only on the history of miners right now, and it’s just fascinating. Unfortunately, I can’t spend 50 pages of my first chapter of a three part thesis that must be less than 100 pages on the changing cultures of peasant miners from the Middle Ages to the 18th century in France. I’ve barely touched the French Revolution. But that’s okay!

I like to answer these questions: “What are the major trends and trajectories going on here? Where are the points of tension? How are these things influencing what is going on in this instance, if at all?” I like taking as many of these informed views because if history is at least the study of what it’s like to occupy another human skin, then it’s something of great importance to grasp. Further, once I know the really salient points, it’s easy to start editing and reformulating things. We’re the culmination of many informed views. We’re the products now just of how we were raised, but how are mothers and fathers were raised, and onward back. In the same respect, the way people behave is rarely the result of singular causes. There is an equifinality and multifinality to behaviors and what we learn from them. The past isn’t static. It’s nuanced and, as historians continue to demonstrate, it’s as ever changing as the present.