Thursday, 5 November 2009

Online autobiographies: 1

Can you use a blog for publishing your autobiography?

It's an attractive idea, because you can set up a blog at no cost and start blogging within five minutes. You can then write bits and pieces about your life story and post them online whenever you will.

The snag, though, is that each piece is displayed in chronological order of posting online, with the latest displayed first. This means that at the outset you would need to plan your life story and write it at a series of posts to be uploaded in a carefully-ordered sequence. If you are going to go to this trouble, then a better policy would be to set up your own personal website on which you would be able to arrange what you write in any manner you wished.

Planning your autobiography at the outset, then writing it and building a website on which to publish it is, however, a major undertaking. Is there not a way in which the simplicity and spontaneity of a blog could be used to kick-start the whole process? I believe there is, and I am beginning to use my blog in this way. These are the steps that I intend to take.

  1. When something happens in my day-to-day life which has a link to something in my past life, I can write two posts, one being my as it were diary entry and the other my autobiography entry. Thus reading as part of my course Edmund Gosse's Father and Son naturally enabled me to write about what we discussed in the tutorial about that and similar books, then to write another about my relationship with my father. Episodes, such as attending a Gaudy Dinner at my old college or reading in Neville Shute's autobiography about an aircraft, the Airspeed Oxford, which his company built and on which I trained, naturally spark off memories about which I shortly want to write.
  2. I will now start create two separate folders within my blog folder for the original wordprocessed files which are then uploaded as posts to my blog:
    1    Chronological by date of posting to the blog
    2    Autobiographical only: chronological by date of event
  3. Files in the autobiographical folder can eventually be merged into one master file which could be printed out to serve as a quick'n'dirty personal memoir for grandchildren or, perhaps, as the basis for a much fuller account of my life for printing out or, conceivably, dividing into pages and chapters for publication on a personal website.

So, my current answer to the question at the start of this post (can you use a blog for publishing your autobiography?) is, not easily and not very well.

Nonetheless this term I am, as part of my course project (examining the impact of new technology on the creation of biographies) continuing to search for websites, whether blogs or not, which can reasonably be considered to be autobiographies rather than diaries or journals. It would be excellent if this post stimulated any reader of it to add a comment below suggesting sites that it would be worth my while to visit: it would be greatly appreciated.


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