An Open Letter to LynnPal
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