I was extremely fascinated by the concept of researching and creating an author blog when I first began the Writing Lives module. I enjoyed the fact that the module was in the format of blog posts as I thought it would be a different and exciting way to present my work as opposed to writing a large essay. I have blogged before in the past and currently run a personal blog where I mainly review books. As I am quite comfortable with blogging, I thought this module would allow me to become more confident in my abilities and produce an interesting piece of online work.
Whilst searching for information surrounding my author, Mary, there was a lot of research involved, varying from trying to find her family members to looking up birth, death and marriage certificates. I was unsuccessful in finding any pictures or information from family members, which at first really disappointed me, as around me my peers were finding amazing pieces of information to include in their blogs. Although a little dismayed, I persevered with my research and was able to track down information which helped me shape my blog posts. The support I received from the Heanor Local History society was amazing and they helped me find useful photos and links to help with my research. They also wish to share my blog on the society’s pages, which makes me feel I will be able to contribute further to the history of Heanor and in turn, public history.
I have been able to broaden my knowledge through my research and have learnt different methods and techniques which have allowed me to refine my research and be efficient in my internet searches. Researching information has also allowed me to understand the importance of reliable sources and shown me effective ways in which to find these. By collaborating with others on the module, I was able to become a stronger, more concise writer and was able to help others with their research and work.
I loved learning about the life of Mary and how different life was back in the early 1900s when she too, was around my age I loved collecting all the research and ideas surrounding Mary’s life and the working class culture of the 20th century and putting it together to create an insight into Mary’s wonderful story and life. Mary’s blog wasn’t my first choice, but after finding her after my other author’s memoir was too short, I felt I was very lucky to be able to read such a lovely and heartfelt memoir of a strong lady such as Mary. I drew many links between Mary and other authors on the module, which I found encouraging and fascinating, learning further how the culture of the working class was in some instances similar, and in others completely varied.
Using the concept of a blog to explore someone’s life at first sounded like a task as I was aware that it had to be concise and easy for online readers to engage with and follow. I am quite wordy when writing essays etc.… and so I worried that I may go overboard in my blog posts. However through the help I received throughout the module, I have been able to learn more succinct ways of writing. It has taught me a lot about my own writing style and has allowed me to develop this in a way that will shape the way I write and research in the future.
Using social media has also been a large part of the project. I am often using social media but have never used it effectively to get readers to my own personal blog. However, through the use of Twitter, something I had never used before, I was able to get my blogs across to a number of people. Through retweets and likes, I saw the vast amount of people my posts were reaching, which encouraged me to use it more to promote both mine and other’s work on the project. Social media definitely allows you to showcase your work to those who otherwise wouldn’t see it and we have gained great support from sites such as HistChild. I have also learned that social media is a great way to gain information. If I had not been able to talk to the Heanor History society via Facebook, I would not have received useful links and pictures that became really important to my blog.
From this project, I have been able to improve and develop my writing and researching skills which I feel will help me in future careers. I have also gained the experience of writing a professional blog which I will be able to include in portfolios for the future. This project has given me such confidence and it was a pleasure to work with everyone on the module and see all of our blogs come together. I will most importantly take away some of the values embedded within Mary’s memoir, which both made me laugh and cry, it was a pleasure to read and write about her!
1: 719 TRIGGLE, Mary Laura, Series of autobiographical letters, MS, pp.25 (c.4,000 words). BruneI University Library.