Researching Writing Lives – Samuel Mountford (b. 1907)

I have very much enjoyed contributing to the Writing Lives website, exploring and dedicating my time to one man’s history. Reading Samuel Mountford’s memoir was a revelation to me as I heard first-person-accounts of the hardships of the early 1900s. He served as a testimony to the time, as he did not fictionalise or dramatise any situation, on the contrary he recounted events with directness, and portrayed just how undramatic the beginnings of war was to suburban British citizens.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the events of Mountford’s life, as well as contextualising it with scholarly sources. I feel as though I have documented Mountford’s history for the modern age to read about.  By covering all important ground of the memoir, selecting specific quotes and contextualising the text, I have set up a lasting format for the public to read about Samuel Mountford.

Through the module I have learned more about being a researcher, and found that I have had to delve deeper into my research to find the right source to back up the text. I have become more selective about my sources in order to provide an informative reading experience. This also applies to my search for images, where I would correctly reference all images and ensured that they were suitable for the topic, and even in most cases, making sure that the images were from around the same date and location as the topic.

This applies to my developing skills in blogging, of which I had previous experience writing in the second year module Prison Voices at LJMU. The previous year of blogging certainly helped however this year I was able to develop my blogging further with more experience in the tone, format, and presentation of the blog. I was able to write more characteristically, present it better by carefully arranging quotations with pictures and aligning them, and most of all I benefitted by concentrating my research on one man’s history. This focused format of blogging allowed me to learn along the way and become familiar with Samuel Mountford’s story. The more I wrote about him, the fonder I became and so my writing began to feel very natural in talking about Mountford.
I believe that blogging has been a fundamental aspect of my development in writing, as I hope to pursue a career in writing. Blogging is a very particular form of writing, that comes across colloquial and readable, and I believe this is a key skill in any career involving writing, whether it is press releases, reviews, or social media work.

The module has also taught me more about social media work, particularly using Twitter to expand the audience and readership for the blogs. Twitter was not something that I used personally outside of university, so the module helped me to explore this social media outlet and learn how to use it fully to my advantage.
From the Writing Lives project I will take away a number of skills that will not only look great on my CV when applying for writing jobs, but will benefit me personally as well. I have developed my skills in researching, formatting my writing, using images effectively and working on a website. The module, most importantly, has made me more confident in my writing, and made me feel as though I can take the skills I have learnt and apply them professionally.

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