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02 March 2014

Family History Writing Challenge Final Tally

On February 28, the month long Family History Writing Challenge officially ended. I am glad that I took the challenge to write about my family members by turning their names, dates, and places into a genealogical narrative at the barest minimum.

I have added items to my research to do list involving missing factual information and sources, as well as questions to better understand the local history of the areas my family lived. When I am ready to turn my attention to research again, I will know what to look for. What an unexpected benefit.

My purpose was to use the challenged to continue my New Year's Resolution to write, write, and write some more this year. Although I could not write every day, I feel I established habits that will enable me to do what I plan on doing. It is nice to have a New Year's Resolution that I am still working on March 2nd! How about you?

For my own memories, I will include the individuals I spent time working on, the date I wrote and the number of words written. This way, I can see patterns of writing or just have inspiration on the days when the genealogy gets too hard.

Date Word Count  Ancestor Tally
2/1 789 William Joseph Geiszler 789
2/2 676 Infant Geiszler, Annie M Geiszler,
William Talbot Peak (part 1)
2/3 1,239  William T Peak (part 2) 2,704
2/5 1,030  Evaline Townley (part 1) 3,734

RootsTech Break
2/10 766 Evaline Townley (part 2) 4,500
2/12 568  William R Peak 5,068
2/17 1,045  Robert Walter Zumstein (part 1) 6,113
2/19 649   Robert Walter Zumstein (part 2) 6,672
2/22 972  Adeline Snyder 7,734
2/23 1,684 Alonzo Comfort 9,418
2/25 926 Myra Marr 10,344
2/27 1,461 Joseph Geisler 11,805
2/28 1920 Caroline Mack 13,725

I look at this list of twelve individuals who I had the opportunity to focus on. I had to make some decisions. When I started working on William R Peak, I made the decision to focus my energies at present on the parents in the preceding generations and revisit the children later. There are thousands of children of my direct ancestors and I need to focus my attention on the parents first and then work on the children in years to come. Otherwise, I will only work on one branch of my family, and there is still Mom's side to work on.

I am suspecting an interesting theme as I work backward through my tree. I suspect the total number of words for the mothers will decrease considerably (along the lines of Adeline Snyder and Myra Marr). Working from the present backwards in the fifth generation, the women will not appear in Census records and the like. Primarily their life sketch will talk about relationship issues when they appear on life events such as birth, marriage and death. The husbands will be the ones who have the longer story. With no living person to share the memories, I suppose that will do.

I also chose a stopping point. A few of my lines bump into large families in early colonial history. These individuals have a lot of people linking into them and difficult histories to sort through. I am not ready to talk those elephants. I'd rather attempt to work on the lines that no one seems to know where they point. They might be perpetual brick walls, but that would be best for my energies. As such I plan on stopping my narrative project at the seventh generation back from my father. I have to leave something for my kids to explore, right?

Overall, this experience is fun. I've learned a lot. I was surprised how many words I could write on an ancestor when I started out with birth, marriage, and death facts on a pedigree chart. I am so thankful for all the research efforts I have done in the past that made this process simple. I could not have done as much without RootsMagic to keep all the facts organized and to help me see the life events (birth, marriage, death) of siblings, parents, and children. I would love to be able to select who I could place on the time-line (grandparents and step parent, children, siblings would be nice).

I also decided that if I were to do a similar goal like this again, I would need to focus on the number of individuals I work on rather than a word count. There is no way I could accurately predict how many words I could write on this style of writing project. However, I could easily decide to write about 12 to 15 individuals in a month .

With a variety of writing projects on my plate, I doubt that I will be able to write about 15 ancestors in March. I also will pass on the Fearless Females writing challenge. Instead, I will just keep pressing ahead with the goal of completing the paternal historical sketches of my father to the seventh generation and my mother to the same. My timeline is by the end of the year, which always me to hvae time for making memories with the living while I'm writing.

Thank you Lynn for the writing challenge. I really enjoyed it.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your success in the challenge. I can really see how the process and dedication you made for these 28 days helped you find your way and have inspired you to keep moving forward. Thrilled the challenge was a small part of your journey, Devon!