Does a blog count?

When Bomber Command: Failed to Return was in its final stages of preparation before printing, Steve Darlow, the publisher, asked all the contributing authors to write a short bio for the front flap. “This is your chance to crow unabashed about your work to date”, he wrote.

With precisely no published work to date, for me this was going to be a challenge. My first attempt was pretty lame. But then Steve wondered, what about my blog? Surely that’s a significant piece of work?

That was an interesting point. A blog by definition is something quite personal, where literally anything that I want can be published for all to read without requiring the rigorous editing and reviewing that goes into a traditional book. There are thousands, if not millions, of blogs out there, all of varying quality and accuracy. I hadn’t considered my own to be worthy of much ‘crowing’, and I suppose it’s telling of my mindset at the time that I was excited about Bomber Command: Failed to Return being my first piece of ‘proper’ in-print writing. But then I thought about it. The button I will click on to send this post spinning into cyberspace is marked ‘Publish’. And once I have clicked that button, my words can be read by anyone with an internet connection – just like a book can be read by anyone who happens to pick it up. I’ve tried to note sources as I go along and, though no-one else ever sees my posts before they go live I make sure I edit them for spelling or grammar before I hit ‘Publish’. So why can’t a blog be published work?

I’ve decided that it can indeed count as ‘work to date’, and so my bio on the front flap of Bomber Command: Failed to Return includes the web address for this blog. With the decline of the printed word on paper in society (one just needs to see the long and growing list of failed ‘traditional’ bookshops in Australia to see this), the telling of history needs to evolve. This is not at all incompatible with the idea of a traditional book. I still want to eventually write a real book, made of real paper and ink, on the tale of the crew of B for Baker and where they fit into the overall Bomber Command story. But in the meantime, this blog can help spread the word.

James Daly, an English historian specialising in the military history of Portsmouth, wrote on his Daly History blog: “Just like the internet has broken down doors for music artists, it’s done the same for historians”. Blogs give a vehicle for making history accessible, on sometimes a very local level. The stories get told – which is, of course, the most important thing – to people who want to read them.

© 2012 Adam Purcell

4 thoughts on “Does a blog count?

  1. Hello Again Adam,
    With regard to your question “Does a blog count”, the answer indeed must be a resounding Yes. In this day of instant answers, where anyone who wants to know something can “google” for the required info, having information available in searchable form is invaluable.
    A quote “Fighting High Publishing brings together notable military aviation authors to tell the stories of some of those who ‘failed to return’ from operations.” So now not only are you published in print but also described as “notable”. Well done and congrats.
    The very reason my great Uncles book “There’s No Future In It” has been reproduced in e-format and not yet a printed version is the ease of searching and dissemination of information.
    And I agree with you, the most important thing is that the stories are told to those who want to know.

  2. G’day Neale,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Originally I started this blog as both a record of the research I’m doing, more or less in timeline order of when I’m doing it, but also as a vehicle for practicing writing (something that I have little formal training in). A happy and completely unexpected side-effect of it has been the number of people who have found this blog through a Google search. This has led to some pretty amazing results (not least among those being Bill Rusbridge who sent me Leo McAuliffe’s letter, as I wrote about here:
    I admit I also raised an eyebrow when I first saw the ‘notable’ description!
    We really must organise that catch-up soon.

  3. Information from any source is important. There are errors in even the best of official records. Information (official records, personal accounts and any other source from archives, books, oral histories, blogs and so on) must, however, be pooled together and sifted through for the most logical and accurate story to take shape. It is the only way to tell the whole story from all sides and angles. I hope you do write a book. The stories need to be told!

  4. LJR3,
    Agree entirely. And sorting through the whole collection, working out what’s correct and what might be an error, trying to establish what REALLY happened – well, that’s the fun bit, ain’t it??

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