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The Challenge is Over and I've Lost my Mojo!

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Mar 8 12 1:49 PM

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Yikes! I did exactly what I said I wouldn't do, I lost my mojo. I started out the month of March excited and eager to fill in some gaps in my research. Then I got sucked into planning a possible quick trip in May to Italy to gather some details I feel I really need to make my story complete. Then I got sick, and guess what? It's 8 days gone into March and I've really accomplished nothing! 

Anyone else now stuck in a rutt? I must find some time to get back to my writing. I guess I am feeling a little overwhelmed by some of my research gaps. How are you all coping since the challenge ended?

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#1 [url]

Mar 9 12 4:17 AM

Michelle - it's all about deadlines and accountability. Find someone to hold you accountable and make a plan to have so much accomplished before your trip to Italy along with weekly goals. Don't beat yourself up too much just make today day one again.

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#2 [url]

Mar 9 12 6:07 AM

Michelle, I hear what you are saying. I too have found myself in a rut. I have not been writing as much as before. My problem is that my story has taken a strange twist, and I am not quite sure how to make it all work. I just found a will from one of the grandmother's (a main character), and it names two sons who have two different (new to me) surnames. So I am spending  quite of time back on research, trying to figure out where these two sons fit in.  They didn't show up on any of the censuses with her, so it has raised a number of questions that I feel I must answer.  Meanwhile, I have been spendng lots of time reading other family history stories, and rethinking how these sons are going to change my story. I'm not giving up, but the revisions on my draft are going very slowly.   I also have some large research gaps, but I am trying to tackle them one at a time, and hopefully it will all work out.

Karen

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#4 [url]

Mar 12 12 5:02 AM

Michelle, don't be too hard on yourself. Planning a research trip is a great way to keep your story alive. Think of how much new information and flavor you will have to add to it when you get back!

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#5 [url]

Mar 12 12 5:06 AM

Yes. A trip to a cemetery, archive or library is a good way to put that spark back in your research. Or, set up an interview with a relative who can share new stories! Great motivators to get your fingers tingling to write!

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#6 [url]

Mar 13 12 5:15 AM

It's true that the research inspires me, but sadly it's been mostly that it inspires me to dream about my finished product, not actually work on it. A side project I have been working on is cataloging all my mom's old family photos. She's been tearing everything out of the old, falling apart albums and organizing them into piles and I'm working on scanning selections of them. I'm planning to put a Blurb photo book or two together highlighting these old family photos for her. Something simpler and easier to showcase a lifetime of photography. Then I got the "brilliant" idea to include blurbs of memories or sentiments with the photos. So after I get them all scanned, I'm going to ask family members to look at some of them and tell me what they remember. This way there will be a smattering of stories put together along with associated photographs that I can self publish for my family. Of course, I'm also thinking ahead to having material for when I decide to write about this generation of my family! Sigh... the distractions!

At least I can say that even though I'm not currently writing, I am still fully immersed in my family history! The writing will come, I know it will. I am dedicated to this story, come hell or high water.

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#7 [url]

Mar 14 12 4:45 AM

Michelle, I love your idea of a picture book for the old photos. And to have little stories to go with the photos would be amazing. I videotaped my dad talking about a pile of photos his sisters had asked about. That way I learned not only who was in each photo but what he remembered about each one as well. 

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#8 [url]

Mar 14 12 6:12 AM

Video taping someone talking about the photos is a great idea! How wonderful to have your dad talking about all those memories. Even better than words, you have his expressions, too! That will make for some great writing. I had never thought to record it before, but now I'm thinking it's the perfect way to get the stories in tact. Pictures spark memories, and memories mean stories. I'm very excited about this project! I may now need to videotape the people I interview about the photos.

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#9 [url]

Mar 15 12 4:44 AM

Absolutely Michelle, video tape or audio tape is definitely the way to go to interview your family. I have a small e-book coming out this month on The Armchair Genealogist on Interviewing the Living, it will be free. As for your blurb photo books, this is a great way to ease yourself into a larger book. I'm working on something similar only they are for my children. Going through the boxes of photos I have of them, scanning them with my flip-pal mobile scanner and creating a series of photo books.For example, birthday parties, first year, school, vacations, Christmas memories  etc. I will be giving them one a year until I make my way through those piles of pictures. 

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#10 [url]

Mar 15 12 5:07 AM

Lynn, I love the idea of books for your children! I have been putting together one on the history of my house, but never thought about doing the same for my kids. What does that say about me? LOL! I got a flip-pal for Christmas and have been scanning documents and photos. What a neat little gadget.

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#11 [url]

Mar 15 12 3:44 PM

Lynn, I have always heard this about taping interviews...however, I have never been in a situation where the Sr. family members would allow it. There are things that happened in African American families that they would rather keep as a secret...or if divulged, would not like to have recorded. It seemed that as soon as I relented about taping, they began opening up. But even then, you could only get so far in the story before they would stop. Even their children said the same thing...the only way to find the truth was to talk about other things that relaxed them enough not to realize that they knew something they weren't telling. I have a long way to go to learn how to interview these folks successfully.

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#12 [url]

Mar 16 12 4:20 AM

I feel your pain, every family has them, secrets and the keeper of the secrets. It is all about trust, taking some time to build a rapport and relationship with those family members who think their secrets are too sensitive for our tender ears. It certainly is not an easy task. Researching for documents is far less complicated, however, it is those interviews that can add a lot of life and meaning to your writing. I agree with your family members, sometimes coming in the back door is the best approach or appealing to their sense of family, and letting them know you want to honor the family by getting the "truth'' recorded for future generations. Not an easy task no matter how you slice it. 

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