Writing 52 stories seems a lot (it was), and did take a lot of time. Most stories required a lot of review of known information plus further research, even as I wrote each story. I was also surprised to realize how much I didn’t know about the subject until I started looking at their life from a story perspective. Choosing the ancestor to write about each week was no mean feat either! I found the themes very useful for narrowing down the candidates, so I generally used the theme albeit obliquely in a few cases. It’s been many, many years since my high school and university English courses, so I was reminded anew how a theme is a very effective unifying tool for writing a focused and more interesting story. And I do want these stories to be appealing so they will be read and enjoyed by family members. I think that this challenge has stretched and fine tuned my writing skills (although there’s still much room for improvement), an unexpected key benefit of this challenge.
I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to at least summarize all I knew about a deceased person in our trees in a single article, although others chose to write a number of short stories about the same person at various times throughout the year(s). I deviated from my plan on occasion, writing two stories about Terry’s father William Irvine BOORMAN and still not covering all aspects of his life. I only wrote one short story about my mother Mabel Marion ANDREW as it related to a favorite photo of her; so much about her is still left unwritten. My last post was about making a photo memory book for my husband Terry BOORMAN. Both of us are obviously not yet deceased, but I thought that merging the past and the present in the same story about an alternate way of preserving stories was a good transition and “resolution” to the year’s project. Talk about an oblique use of theme!
I wrote about direct ancestors (grandparents…) and collateral relatives (uncles, aunts, cousins …). I wrote about about a number of relatives in our parents generation, and as far back as the 1600s, including my 9-times-great grandparents Lord John LISLE, Lady Alice BECONSAW LISLE, and Thomas HAZARD. And many others in between. My selections were unevenly distributed between the various branches, generally reflecting the amount of research already accomplished in the different lines. Ten of the fifty-two stories dealt with Terry’s relatives (including Terry himself); only one dealt with his maternal THOMAS line while nine involved individuals from his paternal BOORMAN tree. My own maternal ANDREW, RICHARDSON and COMPTON tree is by far the largest so warranted thirty-eight stories. My paternal HENSON tree was the focus of only four stories. So it’s obvious there are many more stories still to write, no matter how small!
I received notice from Amy on December 31st that she would not be continuing the “52 Ancestor” writing challenge in 2016. I will keep writing stories for this blog this year, but not as prolifically and not always in that format. I need time to expand my research and hopefully scale some of those brick walls. My future posts can now focus on the research process itself as well as individuals and family groups in our trees. I will need to pick my own themes as well as subjects. My new plan is not yet set in stone; I will let it evolve as I proceed with my genealogical research in 2016. One thing is certain: there is always more to discover and write about!