Researching Writing Lives

Having taken the module Prison Voices in my second year of university, I found that blogging was an excellent way for students to promote their hard work. Often, our assignments are written only for ourselves and the tutor who is marking them. With my author blog, I found that it was an exciting way of documenting my work and creating something that I was proud to have on the internet.

The research that I conducted into my author, Maud Clarke really motivated me to create a blog that she would enjoy to read if she was here. It was amazing how, after reading her memoir, and the research I completed about her, that it could have amounted to me being so invested in one person who I had never met. The main reason I chose Maud for the topic of my blog was that I found we both had certain similarities: the towns we were from were close in proximity, she valued the prospect of education and grew up to be a teacher, a profession that I am keen to go into. It was amazing to see what she wrote about education in her life, and comparing it to how it is now.

Regarding my contribution, not only on the site, but to public history, I feel as though I have done Maud and her family proud by my blog. I have learned the importance of accuracy, and this was sometimes difficult with Maud’s memoir as she was often quite vague about details regarding names, etc. Therefore, it often took me longer to research and verify what she wrote about than actually writing the posts, yet I found the whole process very enjoyable. It was nice to be able to see my research written into a blog on the website.

The social media aspect of the blog was something that was valuable when writing my blog posts. In a way it worked as a checklist, and it helped me identify the areas that I needed to work on and the areas that I had completed. Through Twitter I was able to not only promote my own work as and when it was published, but also the work of my peers. It also provided a platform for research. Having not used Twitter in this sense before, it was incredibly useful to find articles on there that could help me with my author blog.

Reflecting back now, I can see just how much I have learned over the past few months. The best part is comparing my first blog post with the one that I have most recently published and seeing the difference. I was proud of my first post, yet going back over all of them and adding and removing parts to make it better has shown me how much my skills have developed. The Writing Lives project has helped me with my writing in general, but most importantly with my research and presentation skills. In an interview for my PGCE course last November, I told them about my blog and they were impressed with the research and dedication that I had put into it, and this showed me just how important modules like Writing Lives are, not only for the students, but for public history as well.

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