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What's Your Biggest Writing Struggle?

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#61 [url]

Feb 17 13 12:32 PM

Dear Karen,

Creating a theme for your writing could easily help with focus. For example, are you implying that "My family's lives [meaning this branch of your family] were deeply influenced by the families who lived nearby"? If so, this would be a possible theme.  If not, similar broad themes could be imagined.

This type of theme could be expansive enough to include all your material.

Your structure could follow from this all-embracing theme. The simple question, How was your family deeply influenced? would yield a topical structure, and you could take up one topic at a time.

--Deeply influenced in their customs and expectations of marriage..
--Deeply influenced in their religious beliefs...
--Deeply influenced in their priorities about educating children . . .

I'm on the "Theme" squad to give advice. Ask me anything else you would like to. I'm here to help.


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#62 [url]

Feb 17 13 2:11 PM

Thank you Mariann,
   You have given me a lot to think about.  Family and religion were very important to them, but there also seems to be a strong feeling of community.  The family settled in Illinois, but originally came from a small village in Germany.  It seems that many of their Illinois neighbors all came from the same village in Germany, and also attended the same Parishes both in Germany, and in Illinois.  In Illinois the next generations seemed to marry their neighbors.  IE:  my grandfather was one of 9 siblings.  7 of the siblings married people descended from families that originated in the same village in Germany. Six different surnames. It is possible that when I get back another generation or two they will all be related in Germany.  Most of these people came to Illinois from Germany over a period of 10 - 15 years. Family stories say that the IL folks kept sending money back home, so that more people could come here.
   They were not wealthy folks, in Germany most were day laborers or farmers, but in this country, they soon learned new trades, and gradually were able to purchase homes.  I see what you mean about thinking about what influenced them.  I will have to work on this idea.  Thank you again. 

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#63 [url]

Feb 17 13 2:36 PM

Janet B.  Thank you for your suggestions.  Your questions are exactly what I have been struggling to answer also. Some I am able to answer, but many I am not.   It may be that I will just have to speculate on some of the answers.  Mariann has given me lots to think about with regard to Theme. Perhaps as I think about that, the direction for my writing will become more clear.  

I already see my family is also getting lost in the story. Perhaps as I come up with a Theme I will be able to bring them back more to the front of the story.  As of right now I do not have a blog, but am seriously considering it.  I have visited your blog, and like what you are doing.  It may the way to go to tell my story from the direction of community. 


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#64 [url]

Feb 17 13 6:02 PM

You're welcome. And I didn't mean it had to be "my" theme -- I was just plucking one out of the blue. From what you just said, it seems as if big families and communities (maybe) helped your family  to survive, even in the absence of money or status.... Maybe something like that is your theme --

The point is, your theme can be any statement that you think up! Anything that best pulls it all together for you, and foregrounds your family. Good luck!!


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#65 [url]

Feb 18 13 4:21 AM

My biggest struggle up till now has been hitting the anniversary of our daughter's birthday. It was very emotional. Yesterday I got a good kick in the pants while viewing TD Jakes' message in the morning! So, today I'm back in the saddle again! 

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#66 [url]

Feb 18 13 11:50 AM

Karen, one of the things I love about genealogy is the connections. What you see as a grapevine are people with connections to others - in family, community, previous homeland, church, business ventures, and in general, history. In my opinion, genealogy can reveal connections and stories that history can't. Local histories are generally written about or by the popular or powerful people of the time. Their stories and memories are told. But, through genealogy we can trace a person or family and place them in the timeline of the local history. Stories that seemed unrelated suddenly take on new importance when viewed through the life of a relatively unimportant person, who may never even have been mentioned in the local histories.

I live in a rural county on the Colorado plains where my husband's family has lived for 7 generations. My husband and I started entering the people and their histories in RootsMagic. One of the history books has a fairly thorough genealogy of the people. We shouldn't have been surprised when 2,000 of the 3,000 people we entered (from 1860-present day) showed up as related to one another.

If I were to write a family history, I would start with my husband's great-great-grandfather, who came to Colorado in 1874 on the train with several other families who settled in the area from Illinois. At times the lens would be zoomed in on Daniel Epler, showing his homestead and family. Other times, I would use the wide-angle lens talking about the town and people. Connections to families from Illinois would be revealed, connections to other homesteaders, connections through church, family, and business ventures. With Daniel Epler as the primary thread, the story of the Elbert community would be revealed through the stories of the family and the stories of history.

This is how I've written a paper on The Cash Creek Miners. My great-great-grandfather brought his family to a Colorado mining camp called "Cash Creek" in 1861. As I researched his story, I discovered his connections to names of "known" people in the local histories. He was a partner in a mining company with nine other men, who, ten years later, found themselves on opposite sides of a vigilante war. The son of one of the men was shot and killed, very likely by one of the men his father had been partners with in the mining company. If I hadn't researched my great-great-grandfather, the story of Cash Creek and the mining company would never have been connected with the Lake County War because during the Lake County War the miners were farmers living 20 miles south of Cash Creek.

I hope this helps a little bit. It isn't easy, but sometimes looking at the story from a different angle keeps us from becoming overwhelmed.

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#67 [url]

Feb 18 13 2:59 PM

Thank you Gayle, It is always important to look at the story from many directions.  I keep writing each day, but don't know for sure yet how I am going to tie it all together and make it a cohesive story.  I do see what you are saying, and your stories sound fascinating.  I am starting to see some themes emerging, and hope to be able to expand on those ideas.  I love your analogies about the lens.  It is all about putting things in perspective.  It seems like I have been so tied into chronology, that parts are missing, but I will keep writing, and hope that it all works out in the revisions. Thanks again for your input.    Karen

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#68 [url]

Feb 18 13 8:26 PM

Karen, writing takes patience and perseverance, not just with getting the words down on paper, but in seeing how it all fits together. But I truly believe it will all come together in the end. If I didn't, I couldn't keep writing. Best of luck to you! And, you are doing better than me if you are writing every day. I have a quote posted on the side of my computer tower - "First drafts don't have to be perfect. They just have to be written."

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#69 [url]

Feb 19 13 6:07 AM

Karen writing is process and as Gayle says it takes patience and perseverance. Trust the process and yes that is what revisions are for, the first draft is merely to get the raw material down even if it is in chronological order. Be patient. 

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#70 [url]

Feb 19 13 8:26 AM

Karen, I've been where you're at with one branch of my family.  This is my second year in the challenge.  Last year I was dealing with that part of my family that I just could not figure out.  They changed locations, they seemed to be connected to another family where some of the children married their children.  It just got sticky.  

All I can say is stick with it and go with your instincts.  I did take a break and work on a different branch, and when I went back to the ones I had trouble with I made some new discoveries and the writing flowed.  Good luck.

Bettyann Schmidt rhinegirl.blogspot.cim

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#71 [url]

Feb 24 13 8:29 AM

I have been sailing along with my writing. Some days I have more output than others and some days I get a bit behind. But I am generally on track with my scheduled commitment. I have been having so much fun! Until last night.
Now my problem is scope. I thought I had a good handle on that when I started this project. I limited my story to the immigrant ancestors and their three adult children. Now I wonder, what I was thinking?
So far I have a pretty good narrative on the great great grandparents. I started on their oldest son, who had 5 children. His oldest daughter had 7 children. Holy cow! I can't treat all of them with the thoroughness that I did in the beginning.
So, does my story dwindle down to mere names, dates, places? If I stick with only my direct line, I lose a great story of a missionary among the Sioux during the fight for the Dakota Territory. I just overwhelmed myself!

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#72 [url]

Feb 25 13 6:05 AM

Hi Candy, you're writing a narrative correct, a family history legacy book? When I wrote my narratives I kept my stories to my main line. For instance my great grandfather's story, he had 8 children, one them being my grandfather, so that's the line I continued to follow. His siblings were all briefly mentioned in the narrative but at the beginning of each section of my book I had a pedigree chart and a family group chart that showed all the children, their spouses and children etc. etc. This allowed me to write the narrative stories of my family line and still include all the family info I knew but weren't directly part of my story. Not everything you know has to be in the narrative. As for the Sioux story, write it as a separate essay, but you can still include in your book just identify as a side story. For instance my grandmother had an uncle who fought in WWI. He wasn't in my direct surname line but I wrote his story separately and gave it a separate page with a few pictures etc. Does that help? 

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#73 [url]

Feb 25 13 2:45 PM

Thanks for the input. I think I can use your advice, maybe in moderation. Maybe I can do a "story" on the three children similar to what I did with the main characters and just allude to the families of those who are not in my line. I planned to include the pedigree charts with the families so as to avoid a focus on dates in the narrative. And I am stopping at living persons.
Okay, then! Onward! Thanks.

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