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Crafting the personal story

It’s Day 8 of the Family History Writing Challenge and I’m about five posts behind my goal to publish something daily.
I didn’t outline my plan/goals at the outset — or at least I didn’t write them down or commit to anything. What I did was just form a plan in my head to write something, at least 250 words every day. I told a couple people so that I could be held accountable, but so far I’m not making great progress.

Laura Johnston and her grandfather, Harold L. Simpson.

Laura Johnston and her grandfather, Harold L. Simpson.

I’m really finding it hard to start on the individual stories of the people whose history I do know. Maybe it’s because I feel as if these should be complete, fully-formed stories.

What I have instead are lists of facts, tidbits of information, some documents that I can use to backup a life event and photographs.
So, I’m taking my urging from another post over at Family History Writing Challenge and thinking of things as lists of facts on a timeline.

This might be the best advice I’ve read as I start on this project because it frees me from my urge to have a perfectly-crafted story ready when I sit down to type. And, it means that I can hit some of the highlights in my research.

I’ll be starting my ancestors’ personal stories with my maternal grandfather. Most of my research — or at least the best documented stuff — is on this side of my family so it makes some sense to start there. This side of my family didn’t tend to move around much, either, so much of their gravesites and homesteads are more familiar to me.

The next few posts are likely to be about individuals, and should help me catch up on my writing challenge.


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