Its hot and dusty here in my Spot already and I find myself more than ready to hunker down and sweat out the summer over the books again.
This semester I have signed up to study two units online at UTAS. “Writing Family History” is only three weeks old and already my head is swimming with ideas for stories. Do I write a ‘fictionalised’ account of one ancestor? Do I try to tell the stories of several of the most interesting characters? Do I try to unravel some of that confused oral history and attempt to set the story straight?
The last thing I want to do is to write something that is essentially boring. Lots of family histories are boring – lists of dates of births, deaths, marriages. In ours, at least, there would also be a list of divorces and remarriages to make it a little more interesting if I took the conventional route. Then there’s the rest of the family to consider. How would they feel about some of those stories being investigated, recorded and subsequently published? Its the conundrum that faces every writer of family history when dealing with those closest to you especially if the family story has been tucked under the carpet or hidden in the closet for many years.
We’re on semester break shortly so I have ordered an ebook for some light holiday reading : Hazel Edwards’ ‘Writing a Non-boring Family History’. I’m hoping this will give me some technical help and inspiration as I work through the remaining exercises or e-tivities, as they are called in the course.
The hardest task of all has been deciding just who to write about – there are so many little vignettes that bear recording before they are lost. I’m frightened that I might find myself taking a scatter gun approach and in the wash up, not do any of the ancestors’ stories the justice they deserve.
I’m tending towards a series of short stories – fictionalised accounts of separate incidents – that may or may not be about my family. ‘Names changed to protect the innocent’ and all that sort of stuff. Using a short story format also gives me the opportunity to explore a range of styles of writing. I like the constraints of a word count – it focuses one’s attention on making sure there isn’t any ‘waffle’.
And I can waffle with the best of them!
‘What was the other unit you are studying?’ I hear you ask.
‘Photography and Social Media’
More about that some other time, dear reader.
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