So we reach the end of February – and the end of the Family History Writing Challenge. How did that come around so quickly?
So what have I achieved? Well my original idea of blogging daily on the alphabetical theme fell by the wayside very quickly. As soon as I started to write I realised that my stories would take more than a day or two to do justice to – a lot more. In the end I have written just one complete story and am nearing completion of my second. The material is proving to be rich and I am enjoying exploring different ways of writing it. I have realised it is not a race. I have immersed myself once again in my research, and have uncovered new connections and ideas.
I set a target of 250 words a day and, except for a planned weekend off at a conference and a day when I had a big work deadline (when I wrote a lot – just not family history), I have managed at least that. It has been a welcome discipline and yet modest enough not to frighten me away from the task. There was never a time when I felt 250 words was too daunting a prospect. Indeed, writing just a small amount felt playful, as if I was freed from the constraints of time and deadlines and quality control to which my writing is usually subject.
The Family History Writing Challenge has reminded me that I am a writer. Writing has always been a fundamental part of my life, from childhood story telling, to my adult world of text books, articles and proposals. Somehow I had allowed myself to dismiss my writer-self – even through I spend half my working life writing one thing or another. I was not a writer because I only wrote academic papers. I was not a writer because I didn’t write fiction. I was not a writer because textbooks somehow don’t count.
This month I have remembered I am a writer. I have acknowledged it and embraced it and even shared it. Perhaps even more importantly, I have rediscovered the joy of it, the flow of it, and celebrated the pleasure of crafting words and weaving stories.
So what happens now? I plan to keep writing my family history. Not every day (though I plan to keep up the daily writing habit) but regularly, maybe 2 or 3 times a week. I will finish my second story then take stock. Whether I write shorter posts, follow another ancestor or use the prompts from FHWC or Geneabloggers, is still to be decided. But I will write. It is what I do.