In Year 8 and 9, I read a lot of book blogs. Some were blogs by the authors themselves but most were review blogs.
Despite the fact I wrote book reviews, I never made my own blog.
“Too much effort,” I said. Yet, five years later, here we are.
In Adrian Miles’s ‘Blogs in Media Education: A Beginning’ (2006), he discusses blogging in general and also blogs in the classroom. At one point, he calls blogs students’ ‘personal learning web documentaries’ (Miles 2006, p.67).
I like that.
I’m vain and self-centred (who isn’t though?). One wall of my bedroom is lined with mirrors, I made my friends run a photoshoot for my newest Facebook profile pic, and I can always seem to lead conversations back to myself. Wow, look at me, my first ever blog post, and the flaws are already out.
However, I think that’s the point.
Personal blogs can be a documentation of self. They can be a tool for self-reflection, a place to express vanity, but also to explore insecurity. As Miles himself says, ‘a blog is, perhaps unlike the essay, a space where you can express doubt and insecurity about your knowledge’ (Miles 2006, p.67). There is a freedom in the blog post. A freedom from the paragraphs and thesis statements of essays, from the formal third person, the academic voice that erases opinion in exchange for fact.
Yet despite this freedom, the space to explore the self, blogs are exposing in a way the essay is not. It’s the internet–everyone can read your blog post. There are eyes everywhere.
But is this a bad thing?
I don’t think so.
In his article, Miles draws attention to the fact that when you write with an audience, you tend to be more careful with your words. Blogs, despite how free they look, require ‘more care, elucidation and clarification than may be the case in a personal diary or even journal writing’ (Miles 2006, p.67).
I started writing book reviews when I was 14 and honestly, I can attribute a lot of my writing skill to these reviews. Book reviews, as a medium, are so perfect for improving writing. Because not only do they require you to read and analyse what makes a book good or bad, they also require that you articulate and present these thoughts in an organised, digestible format.
The first time an author liked my review of their book, it was a glorious feeling of validation. It was affirmation that “Yes, maybe, I can do this. Maybe I can write.”
The knowledge that people were reading, that my thoughts were valued, it taught me to write well, which in turn helped my academic writing.
Now, when I look back on my book reviews, spanning years of time from the age of fourteen to nineteen, I can see my writing progress. I can see my emotions mature, in my attitudes and responses towards different themes. I can see myself finding my voice. I might not have officially blogged before. But I understand this feeling, simultaneous vulnerability and vanity, freedom and motivation to improve.
I cringe at my early book reviews. Maybe one day, I’ll look back on this post and cringe. But that’s okay. Blogs are documents of ourselves—constantly in progress.
Miles, A 2006, ‘Blogs in Media Education: A Beginning’, Australian Screen, vol. 41, pp.66-69.
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