Whilst initially tentative about creating a blog, for I had no experience in anything similar before, my feelings gradually changed to realise that it was not just another essay, but something new altogether. Finding a working-class author and researching their life in detail presented a new outlet for my interest in English literature that I was previously unaware of. Having previously studied fiction for the most part, the very fact that Faizur Rasul’s autobiography is non-fiction presented a pleasant change. I was drawn in by the uniqueness of his book, with my intrigue being rewarded by a text rich with experiences, all from the point of view of an extremely personable individual.
The nature of the book concerns an area of history I knew little about, reading it has piqued my interest in the time of the Raj. The extent of my knowledge was two lectures on post-colonialism and not specific to India. It has even made me want to visit places such as Old Delhi, where Rasul lodged in a college for a short while.
Since Rasul has had his work published successfully already, I do not quite feel I have made a similar contribution to public history as some of the other bloggers have done, whose focus was on handwritten manuscripts pulled from old archives. Nonetheless, Rasul’s book is a story worth retelling. The only copy I could get my hands on was in Australia, so maybe it did warrant a resurfacing so to speak.
Blogging is a new platform for me. I believe it has become a huge part of literature, with huge
consumption across the globe due to the easily accessible nature of it. Writing in a vaguely more casual style has been the main positive, journalism and even travel writing have been lingering in the back of my mind as career choices, and to get more practice at it whilst still studying for my degree has been a bonus. The social media aspect has added to this. More and more, jobs are going online, with vacancies even advertised on social media. To have a decent command of it is looking like a must, social media even becoming part of the job itself.
In terms of writing in general, I have always written for either just myself or a very small audience, for example a tutor. Creating a blog has made me more aware of how my writing could be perceived by others, encouraging me to check how it flows and how it reads, as well as if it is entertaining. That, in turn, has made me enjoy the actual writing process far more than I ever have before.
Aware that I may be verging on the side of hyperbole, the Writing Lives collaborative research project has galvanised my approach to English literature. I was in a stalemate, churning out essay after essay, analysis after analysis, and to have the relief of producing something not just for my tutor to mark, but to contribute to something bigger has been a breath of fresh air. It has offered something to take out from university that will exist post-graduation that I can continue contributing to.
Rasul, Faizur. From Bengal to Birmingham. (London: Andre Deutsch, 1967)