Yesterday morning I found myself wrapped in that cosy feeling when one feels at one with their surroundings. West End Cemetery Park greeted me with a warm spirited hug as I, in turn, embraced Heritage Day.
Mingling with family and friends (some living and some not), I found myself walking along the wind damaged Strand after Cyclone Althea; I revisited my dream of owning a Triumph Stag (the only car to ever stop me in my tracks); and my mind trailed off to the distant Scottish highlands on the haunting notes of bagpipes. Whilst on my time travels, I also stumbled upon a stall for aspiring writers, manned by a local Writers’ Group.
Of course, I couldn’t let the chance pass me by. I had to stop and chat to like minded people whose souls, like my own, are immersed in the world of the written word; whose worlds slip in and out of reality at the touch of a pen, (or computer keyboard for the more tech-savvy among us). The advertising material mentioned access to critiques and publishing possibilities, all things that I will need in the future. The works of group members were for sale and varied from fantasy to Historical fiction to family stories. I felt sure that my chosen genre of family history would fit into the criteria somehow. After-all, we are all writers, right?
I chatted with the three people manning the stall, trying to establish a connection.
“What style of writing are you interested in?” They asked.
“Family History,” I replied. “I’m writing about my Great Grandfather.”
“You might be better joining the Family History Association,” was their suggestion.
I have nothing against a Family History Association, and after visiting their stall, I do intend to join. However, I love writing and thought that associating with like minded people would be inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, these people were really lovely and indeed tried to help and I think I will eventually join. However, I came away mulling over the importance of writing about our family history. Is family history writing considered by some to be a dry list of names, dates and facts?
Through the various courses I have attended on the subject of writing family history, I have learned the basics on how to write about the past in a fresh and interesting way. I have found myself on some amazing journeys, following the works of other family historians, watching their stories bloom and flourish from mere seeds of dry facts into wonderful engaging tales. First and foremost, we write to preserve our family stories for future generations. Publication and success on the worldwide literary market would be great, however, for the most part our readers will be our families. That makes our stories the most precious of all.
However, I still believe that writers of all kinds can learn so much from each other. A story still needs an underlying theme about a universal truth in order to capture the reader’s interest. In hindsight, perhaps I should have described my current project to the Writer’s Group as “a story about a man who endeavoured, against all odds, to be true to himself.” Then again, Great Grandfather’s spirit might not have been feeling sociable yesterday.
So for now, I will join the Family History Association to assist my research into my Great Grandfather’s story. They have an amazing access to sites and materials. Then, when I eventually embark on an earth shattering Memoir or a smash hit novel, I might be ready to join a writers’ group, who will help pave my literary path with gold and put my name up on the Everest of Literary Greats. There is no harm in dreaming is there?