Being on WordPress is very different to being on Blogger: there’s none of the log-on-and-write that is so liberating, and comforting, to novice bloggers and techno-phobes like myself. What it does make you realise, though, is that blogging is a serious format, somewhere along the lines of a press-release or newspaper column, with its own style of writing that must be similarly learnt. I think it’s the lack of physical entity that makes many people rather look down on it, but it seems to me that blogs are merely a technological replacement of the ‘zines of the eighties and nineties (or perhaps another facet; do these still exist?) the next generation of self-publishing. It must be enormously liberating now to be a teenager and instead of endless hours with pritt stick and scissors, and then hawking it round, just pressing ‘Publish’. Or did the physical effort involved impose some kind of discipline; did it weed out those who weren’t prepared to put in the time or had nothing to say?
I recently came across a news item on the Warrington Guardian website, dated 3 October 2013, which claimed to show the design for the new Market Hall. This was a large glass shed fronting directly onto Bridge Street, between Dolman’s Lane and Hall’s Yard, engulfing the Grade II listed Howard Building and replacing four other shops. The building over the archway to Hall’s Yard had been removed and replaced by an open access route.
I found other items in local newspaper websites across the region, dated the same day, so there must have been a general press release. There was also a similarly dated bulletin on the council’s website.
According to this, only four weeks had been set aside for the public consultation and, as we stopped taking the local paper when the advertising space started to exceed the news items, I had missed it all at the time.
It was not really what I had been hoping for: the over dominant frontage, the strange embedding of a listed building in a glass structure, the replacement of five individual shops with a single huge block, the destruction of the distinctive character of Hall’s Yard, and the further breaking up of Bridge Street’s historical character – a continuous line punctuated with archways. And why was it suddenly going to be on Bridge Street, when all the plans in the documentation on the council’s website showed it as behind the Conservation Area?
I have continually struggled to keep to the 500 words advised, as you will have undoubtedly noticed, and what was meant to be four short posts giving an historical overview on each of Warrington’s ‘quarters’, has ended up around 6,000 words. Fine perhaps for an introduction to the book I am planning but, as I am starting to realize, a blog has different rules..
Although this long-winded detour has proved extremely useful to me, in identifying my stylistic faults – not least a tendency to overuse certain adjectives – and showing me the difficulties I have in grappling effectively with a large mass of information, it cannot be said to be fulfilling the ideal of what a blog is Meant to Be.
For myself, the main purpose of setting up a blog was to narrow down a theme for my book from all my research, and evolve and refine a written style in which to express it, so in that sense it can be said to be working well. However, as my search for better blogging techiques is uncovering, I should also be thinking of you, the reader.
The beauty of the blog format is the ability to edit afterwards, and I have been doing this frequently, treating each post as a draft chapter to be revised, corrected and added to. Not only is this not much fun for the reader, I am also realizing that I have become far too bogged down in these corrections, and lost sight of my original aim: to look at the Masterplan Framework’s suggestions for development, in the light of Warrington’s historical background.
A useful little article on copywriting for blogs has helped to clarify for me what a blog should actually be, (apparently, something between a press release, a short magazine article and an opinion piece, for the similarly non-tech-y types amongst you) so, with a bit of luck and a fair wind, improvements should be seen soon.