WordPress tells me this is my 100th post on this blog. I feel like I should do a give-away of some crafty item to celebrate but, as I haven’t currently got access to make anything, that will have to wait.
Instead I thought I’d take a little trip down memory lane.
I started my first personal blog, Ordinary Little Art, in July 2009. It was very similar in focus to this one and had 90 published posts before I mothballed it in favour of this one. Last year I set up a new blog for my travels in Indochina and Australasia. From the Delta to the DMZ had 84 posts and has been by far the most popular of my personal blogs with nearly 8,000 views to date (even if my dad claims most of those were him).
But neither of these were my first blog. That honour goes to a work blog I started in April 2007. After attending a digital museum conference I was inspired by the potential of blogging (still a relatively new phenomenon back then – at least in museums!) to get information quickly and cheaply out into the public domain.
At the time I was working at the UK National Inventory of War Memorials, part of the Imperial War Museum. I loved to write and this was a way to do that and share the stories of the war memorials and the people they remembered. I even got some of our retired volunteers blogging, after some initial skepticism.
I wrote 180 posts over 13 months before I left the museum. My first ever blog post was a short, tentative outing about the removal of a war memorial in Estonia. It wasn’t the most inspiring story – happily they got better. This is one that always sticks out for me – ‘Stories Behind the Names – Layton Air Raid Casualties’. This one is also very poignant and based on one of the many wonderful original postcards we held – A Child’s Christmas Treat.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was while working at the Imperial War Museum that I first had the idea for my First World War novel. At the time there was much publicity for a campaign (later succesful) to have the men executed for cowardice and desertion during WW1 granted a pardon, in recognition of the fact that many were suffering from what we’d today diagnose as PTSD.
One interesting fact I came across was that only about 10% of the men sentenced to death were actually executed. The rest had their sentences commuted. I began wondering what it would be like for these men, convicted but then reprieved and sent back to continue fighting with that sentence – and presumably the stigma – hanging over them.
Other ideas also coalesced into the plot I have today. I found out more about the role of women on the Western Front and liked the idea of a hard-bitten female character. I also learnt about the origins of the Imperial War Museum in 1917, while the war was still raging and victory was by no means certain. A year or two later, these ideas and more eventually came together into my work-in-progress novel, When the Guns Stop.