Every month, Ol' Myrt receives a communiqué from Jay Speyerer, a professional writer who has assisted thousands of would-be writers to accomplish their goals. His website is Legacy Road Communications located at: http://www.legacyroad.net/ . His main page today sports two intriguing proposals:
- Fire off e-mails without shooting yourself in the foot
- Turn your memories into stories and assure your legacy
This latter point should pique the curiosity of family historians. Jay visits with all sorts of government, business and genealogy organizations creatively sharing his knowledge for improving your writing.
Note that Barbara Diller, Conference Coordinator, Tarentum Genealogical Society writes to Jay with a glowing reports from a recent conference: “You have inspired a number of members to finally begin to write the story that goes along with all the dates and facts they have been collecting for years. From all the great comments I heard after the conference, and again at our meeting, everyone will definitely be looking forward to your visit next year.”
Needless to say, Ol' Myrt here has some thoughts. There are purists like Jay, friendly, outgoing man who has exacting specifications about how to write an effective story. His monthly emails explain some of the oddities of using specific words more effectively.
Then there are folks like Ol' Myrt here who thinks we should just hope to it, and get the job done, maybe 1 story a day or so. Often we do not write for fear of making grammatical errors like mixing up the use of these three words that spell-check wouldn't pick up:
CASE IN POINT
Years ago, one of my beginning genealogy students came back after a 4-month summer break up north with two huge notebooks chock full of photos, documents and anecdotes about each member of his family. He asked me to compile his family history so it could be printed. He wanted me to “pretty things up” a bit.
What he gave me to work with were printouts of his family group sheets and pedigree charts, and a handful of photographs. The pictures were nice, but the printouts were boring.
What I asked for was the opportunity to also review the 2 huge notebooks, and am I glad I did.
There I discovered he had written heart-felt stories in his best street-smart English about how as little kids, his mom would take him and his brother for rides on snowy days, pulling them behind the car with ropes tied to the bumper. He recalled her wonderful cooking, and how she managed when her husband spent the week’s earnings down at the local bar. He mentioned his mom's early death due to complications from diabetes because Dad's drinking didn't leave enough money for consistent medical attention.
The researcher even printed his recollections about his mother on yellow paper, because that was her favorite color.
The notations in the 2 huge notebooks are exactly what this man’s children and grandchildren need to know – his feelings and recollections about his parents, grandparents and 1 set of great-grandparents in addition to details of that man’s life growing up in a household of love despite the hardships.
I am thankful for Jay’s writing expertise, because it does improve my writing when I've edited an ancestor’s story using his techniques. Other times, I am lucky if I can just type up the story quickly late at night between giving Dad his hospice medications and adjusting his oxygen to make him feel comfortable. I hope to go back and review each family story with Jay’s ideas in mind.
But whether you are a writing purist like my friend Jay, or a "get it done without worrying" type like Myrt, don’t let ANYTHING stand in the way of writing the story of EACH of your ancestors’ lives.
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.
(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.