FHWC 2013 Day 28: BTW …

An Open Letter to LynnPal

FHWC2013JoinMeDear Professor (Lynn):

SUBJ: Reflecting on 28 days of family history writing on a daily basis. 

It was interesting to say the least, and very challenging. I thank you for the chance to give it a go.  I learned a few things along the way too, like:

  • “Writer’s Block” exists and is called that for a reason.  It is not an excuse, Professor, but a test: it’s separates the writers from the hobbyists, but once you get those first two sentences on that blank sheet/screen, it gets easier … until you need to end it;
  • Subjects of interest are plenty: but too often make turns off in directions that the writer is not prepared to pursue at the time, due to personal reasons of a delicate nature;
  • Some writing days are easier than others:  and the not-so-easy days require Kleenex (and/or a stiff drink);
  • Remember appointments: you will need to multi-task and write two or three in advance,  particularly, when your appointments/events take you away from your scheduled writing time for the entire day.
  • Writing should not be squeezed between two other activities:  like chores and work. Being late for the former means you work alone, but being late for the latter means you don’t get to work at all (or get paid!);
  • Find your time niche and stick to it: I tried writing for a couple hours before bed and ended up going through the entire night with only three hours to prep for work the next morning!  I then tried writing before work … please refer to previous bullet about “Squeezing Writing Between Activities”;
  • Acknowledge your significant other: (I’m sorry, but I am not married to my computer — although a few nights it felt like it);
  • Keep a notebook for random scribbles: “scribbles” are thoughts or a couple lines that can eventually turn into a nice bit of work — my “Typical Boys” posts each started as scribbles, piecing everything together as I remembered it;
  • Keep open-minded: sometimes scribbles come to you from the most unlikely sources, like the news or a passing conversation;

I have been “scribbling” for years.  Whether it was creative writing during math class in middle school, writing poetry during art class in secondary school, or writing IGNs* while attending university, I found putting pen to paper to be an enjoyable avocation (almost relaxing) — but it was something that could not be forced then (and unfortunately, that still rings true even now.).

Would I do this again

Yes, but only after I retire; and if I cannot retire anytime soon, I’ll take some vacation time.  There is not enough time to properly devote to writing an informative piece that has some meaning – to be worthy of reading and sharing. 

[It’s just my way of doing things, after five years of secondary school (grades 9 through 13) with a UK-born English teacher. “Quality over quantity, Sir Kale!” His voice still haunts me.].

But, did I write anything memorable during this exercise?

I am almost certain of one piece, maybe two (or three), but then anyone who knows me well enough, is also aware that I am my harshest critic.

It is possible that I may have misunderstood the exercise, as your daily reminders appeared to give a “linked together” theme to it.  I took the challenge from “A New Day, A New Story” concept.  I toggled between my father’s and my mother’s families; it did not seem proper to focus on just one, when using all four opens up so many possibilities for writing material.

In closing, I thank you again for the opportunity to participate, Professor; I hope that you, and everyone who came to read, found something entertaining.

And by the time you have read this far, I should be sitting down with my wife enjoying dinner out to celebrate my fiftieth birthday.  I wish you could join us




* Investigative Genealogical Narratives



  1. Although I did not participate officially in the writing challenge, I did write every day for my blog too. I have enjoyed your pieces and hope that you still continue, even if only a couple days a week.


  2. Thanks Liam for participating in the challenge and for your fantastic efforts and blog posts. I appreciate your take on the challenge and your efforts to squeezing it into your day. I applaud members who posted their writing daily that’s a tall task. Many just used the challenge to write a rough draft of their family history narratives and kept them private. But that is the beauty of the challenge, everyone adapted it to their own needs.

    I have complete praise for writers who manage a full time job and take on writing a book. Your absolutely correct in that it is a major juggling act that few can handle.

    Not sure when I became the “professor” but I’ll take it as a term of endearment.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday!


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