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Pepys teaches the 21st century blogger everything.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Jan 2011, 11:45

On how Pepys kept his diary

(From the author's diary 2/1/1993

With comments in relation to blogging in OU land.

Pepys composed his diary in five stages:

First, the accumulation of bills, minutes, official papers, news books and rough notes on a day's proceedings.

Second, the gathering of these into a form which combined accounts with diary style notes.

Third, the entering of the account and business matters into the appropriate manuscript/books, and the first revision of the general entries which were intended for the final manuscript.

Fourth, entry of these notes into the diary-book (with care and over time), adapted to the space.

Fifth, reading over the entries that had been made shortly before, making small corrections and stylistic improvements and inserting some further details at the ends of paragraphs and entries.'

From W. Matthews, 'Introduction to Pepys Diaries II, ppcii

How many steps do you take when writing your blog entry? One or none? That an workm but it can also be a flop. Are you saying what you meant? Should you be saying it at all? Who are you writing it for in any case? If it's meant for your Tutor do they pop by? Never. If it's meant for your Tutor group should they comment? I wish they would, just a note 'yep, been here' would do for me sometimes.

William Matthews goes on to say what makes a good diary and what makes a bad one.

'Almost all diaries that give genuine and protracted pleasure to an ordinary reader do so because the diarists possessed, instinctively or by training, some of the verbal, intellectual and emotional talents that characterise the novelist. Diaries are not novels; they are bound to reality, with its deplorable habit of providing excellent story situations and so artistically satisfactory ends.'

(What amuses me is the mixture of French, Spanish and Latin Pepys uses to hide what he was getting up to with various girls; not something the modern diariast would do, the detail of any encounter always producing the most hits. But diarist as novelist? Perhaps. Below you'll find an Oxford tutor making the case for journalism in essay writing style.)

But also the man, Pepys, because of his variety of amateur interests had a passion for life which sustains a diary which requires a rich weave of activity if it is to remain interesting.

'Pepys was a typical 17th century virtuoso, a man who justified himself by the diversity of his interests.'

W.M. Pepys VI, 'Diary as literature, ppCx

'His literary instinct led Pepys to relate a story excitingly whenever the materials gave him the chance ... diaries bring a reader closer to human actuality than any other form of writing. As life-records they present a natural disorder and emphasis which is artfully rearranged in biography, and so somewhat corrupted. As self-delineations they deal directly with people and events which in the novel are subjected to the stresses and conventions of art and design. And in many ways they are the most natural and instinctive product of the art of writing.' (W.M. Pepys Vol 1, ppCXii)


Matthews, W et al (2000) Pepys' Diary (Highbridge Classics) (2000) Robert Latham, Samuel Pepys, Michael Maloney (edit contributors)

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Three great posts Jon.

What worries me is that things more appropriate for course-forums are appearing as blogs here.

Compare and contrast this with this. One is a blog the other is a lecture. I dislike the later, it belongs on a course-forum. [Although the former probably doesn't appeal to everyone!]

I hope my blog says something about me, as your's does about you. If it's just a collection of course notes what's the point? [There is a place for this, some of these blogs have made me think about things I wouldn't normally have thought about—I'm not sure where to draw the line.]

One of the beauties about Peyps was that he didn't mean people to read his diary, which makes it a better thing to read.

I struggle at times to be totally honest, I usually manage but sometimes artifice is involved. However the more I write, the more I want to tell my truth. One of the great things about blogging is that it throws into relief the fact that you're lying to yourself much of the time.

Beginning to ramble here...time to go away and think.

Aw ra best


Design Museum

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I've come to accept the OU Blog Roll for what it is - all comers, all purposes. I could gor a for three-coloumn news magazine format with the latest three or four entries centries and a scramble of others offered as linked titles or thumbnails either side, but grop, by course, by popularity, whatever.

This space serves a vital purpose to release people from the forum blog where to be honest 250 words is a lot, though we should and could be persuaded to add longer pieces (the kind of thing that appears here - and that I post here) that read like reports, or in my case, a first draft of notes.

The OU is up to something so we'll see what occurs over the next few months.


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I'll reply here to your next post but-one, which neatly summerizes why we keep these public diaries.

For me it's a self-check. I once had a rather serious brush with depression, one, that if my wife hadn't spotted it, might have ended up with no me or no someone else. So I like to know how I am. And the best way to know how you are is to talk to yourself, honestly.

The odd thing is that I'm more honest about me if others are, potentially, reading what I write than I am in an internal dialogue.

Reading my stuff back I notice the same reccurant themes. At some point in every course I will write the same thing. I'd like to think that I'm getting better as a writer—but there's a bit of me that realizes that I'm just using different words.



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I'd  love it if they fixed the typography. My site ain't great be I took some trouble to make sure that it was easy to read. Some posts on here just look daunting, through no fault of their owners.

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I agree about the "what you get".

For every time that I've been pissed off about some course-enforced blog I've been drawn into thought by said same course-enforced blog.

But then I am, a self-confessed, opinionated drunk—I crave strife.


[and now it's time to stop bothering you!]