Reading and researching about A. Gordon James has been a very enjoyable journey. I am grateful to have been part of the Writing Lives project and to be able to contribute to a great source of research with my fellow writers on the module. Learning about Alfred through his manuscript has made me appreciate the importance of working-class writing to public history. Alfred’s life was one of devotion to his beliefs and to his family. His work was endearing to read about because of his overcoming the struggles he contended with and his commitment to helping people in his ministry. His years as a practising minister of the Methodist church gave me plenty to talk about as he travelled the country and met a broad variety of people all from different backgrounds. His position as a minister gave him a perspective on every kind of problem in British society, which made writing about him engaging.
I hope that my blog has contributed to not just research about working-class life writing, but research on the state of Christianity during the early twentieth century. By writing about someone who took part in the discussions surrounding the place of religion in British working-class life, I hope that my blogs will have made Alfred’s thoughts on the subject more accessible to the public.
My previous experiences of blogging have never been as engaging to me as this. My previous experience of blogging was writing creative non-fiction, which never had the rewarding elements that come with researching about a person born over a century ago. It was refreshing to write about someone else and show my progress in writing about certain facets of Alfred’s life with each blog. Having a definitive subject to write about and research was brilliant because in my other blogs that was a rarity. In this way, I have learned how to be more precise and stay relevant to the subject matter.
I also learned to appreciate the importance of regular posting both the blogs and on social media. I have learned how to keep producing content consistently, whereas before in my previous blogging experiences I hadn’t. Using Twitter to promote my posts, I enjoyed being able to see how people interacted with my blogs. I was surprised to learn how useful Twitter could be as a resource as I was guided in my research by others on the platform. I really enjoyed reading and supporting other writer’s posts by promoting them on Twitter as well.
This being my last post, I will take from this experience many valuable lessons in how to effectively use social media, writing consistently and time managing my posts. My assumptions about Christianty in early twentieth century Britain as being obnoxiously conservative have been turned upside-down. I had never known just how involved some clergymen were in Labour-driven politics or in the pursuit of welfare and social work for those who suffered in poverty. I was surprised to find how progressive Alfred was for his time.