This blog runs on the excellent WordPress system, which has given me reliable service for the past two years. And I’ve just realised – it’s exactly two years today that I started putting my thoughts online.
Why do I do it? Some reasons:
- sending my thoughts through my fingers and onto the keyboard helps me to get them straight in my head – and because there’s a potential audience I have to express myself a bit more clearly than when just scribbling notes to myself.
- mine is a bit of a niche subject – so the Internet is a good way to make contact with others interested in it.
- feedback can come from the most interesting places. Most subjects that i write about bring in some intelligent feedback, as blog comments or as emails. I’m particularly pleased to have heard from descendants of some of the novelists I write about, and a descendant of a family that D.H.Lawrence libelled.
- when I write something really daft, someone usually corrects me, which is good for my soul.
- this has been a way to get some of my ideas out into the world. When I gave my paper about T.S.Eliot’s wartime letter to the Nation, I hesitated about whether or not to send it to an academic journal. Had I done so, and had it been accepted, would it still be languishing in the queue for publication? But it went online, and has reached a substantial audience – and a wider one than a journal article might have reached, though maybe not such a prestigious one.
- bits of the blog have actually turned out to be rough drafts for my thesis – usually when I didn’t think of them as such. I start writing, get stuck, and think -“What did I say about that on the blog?” and find a phrase, a sentence, or even a paragraph that sums up what I want to say. Once I had a critical quote running through my head, which i thought good – but I couldn’t place it. I googled it on the offchance that I might find the author, and discovered a reference to Great War Fiction. And the author was me.
- I can spread a bit of mischief. When teachers set assignments on those over-rated works, Private Peaceful and Lord of the Flies, little do they know that some of their brighter students are going trawl the net until they discover my contrarian views.
Now, to mark my second anniversary, the ever-ingenious folk at WordPress have come up with a new feature for all blogs – and I’m not sure whether I love it or hate it. At the bottom of each post, they now offer the facility of adding computer-generated links to other blogs. Some of these are quite reasonable – such as when an article of mine about a war book leads to someone else’s review of Journey’s End.
But the best so far is that my brief comment on Michael Arlen’s rotten novel, The Green Hat makes the computer choose a piece called matchy-matchy clash, about the problems of matching wool while knitting, and how to make a purple babydoll eyelash hat.
But then, why not? My blog seems to have an affinity with knitters, and one of my most popular posts was about a soldier who knitted in the front line, and sent a twin-set back to his younger sister.
Some bloggers are annoyed by this “Possibly related links” facility, and turning it off, but I enjoy the oddities, so I think I’ll keep them going, at least for the time being. But in two years time – who knows?
I wonder what links the computer will suggest are possibly related to this one.