Amazingly, it is nearly a month since I finished posting Miss Marple’s recovery, sustained by the support of a loyal few! Of course, it is problematic to post a story over a number of episodes since few people are likely to come in at the start, and fewer keen to get involved in the middle! I have not been clear in my mind how to address this problem and have therefore hesitated before adding new posts.
The problem is a serious one I think when trying to communicate something about the process of trying to help people in various kinds of trouble. I am sitting on a document of 38,000 words that I complied over a couple of years post retirement and I wrote it in reaction to what seemed to me the conventional and unsatisfactory approach to writing about helping people. This was one in which the topic was broken down into subjects – a chapter on mental illness here, on domestic violence there, on addiction there.
This is not to say that these writings are wrong or unnecessary. From the point of view of people getting professional help, the least they can expect is that the professional has some knowledge of the academic basis for their work, the intellectual evidence. But it is my experience that on the whole, the ‘helpers’ don’t learn to become helpful by ‘knowing things’, by acquiring what might be termed ‘intellectual capital’ and then applying it. This is only part of becoming useful.
Instead, it seemed to me that people become helpful by a process of personal development into which intellectual capital is integrated, and that this is best understood as a ‘story’. (This is of course why Miss Marple occurred to me since recovery is also a ‘personal story’.) I thought therefore that it should be possible to write an account of learning to be useful as a story of personal discovery, not as a list of topics and bullet points.
Can this though be communicated through a blog? Blogs tend to capture people for little nuggets of insight, but can they engage people in a developing story when most people will only discover the blog part way through a story?
10 people ‘followed’ Miss Marple which is a start though it does not look as though many followed the story from beginning to end. Maybe this was the writer’s problem, but he is reluctant to give up on exploring the possibilities of the blog idea. I’ll keep going for a bit therefore and see if what I have to say strikes any kind of chord.
There is a second idea by way of introduction which is probably worth pursuing in my next entry before I get into my ‘story’…….