01 November 2010

Write Non-fiction in November

Here it is--November 1st.
Quoting from the website Write Nonfiction in November:

Today marks the beginning of the fourth annual Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) challenge and blog. All over America and possibly the world, nonfiction writers are starting a variety of projects—books, e-books, booklets, articles, essays, information projects, book proposals—with the intention of finishing them in 30 days (Nina Amir).

Nina has presented a challenge to all of us who are writing nonfiction. And I'm assuming that our family history writing is nonfiction. Family history writing does present some unique challenges, however. Like memoir, it is story. Some fiction writing skills apply to writing family history. We need those skills as well as research and succinct writing abilities. Nina invited Linda Joy Meyers, a memoirist, to guest blog on her Write Nonfiction Now site on the topic: "The Top 6 Questions that Memoir Writers Ask." One of Linda Joy's insights that hit me very hard was this sentence, "People who read memoirs want to understand themselves better by entering into someone else’s story to find out how they lived and worked things out." If that doesn't sing to a family historian, I don't know what does. I believe we appreciate story about our own ancestors, "how they lived and worked things out," more than story about anyone else in the world. I think that makes our task as a family history writer very profound.

Nina's first entry in November is about building a platform for your writing. This is important for a family historian as well as a commercial writer. Why are we writing if not to be read? Even if we do not make money from our work, we do need to be known. Luckily, this happens very naturally as we do our research among cousins and other family historians. We share what we have, we collaborate on our information, and this generates interest. I keep a running list of family contacts and forward emails and phone calls continually asking about how to obtain our published work to our faithful committee treasurer. She has taken the burden of order fulfillment, an important piece of family history writing that needs to be considered early in the process of publishing family history.

Another successful tip. Involve family members in the work. Some will do transcription from handwriting or audio files. Some will read and critique the work. The job of proofreading has to be done by someone with "new" eyes, and this is another excellent way to involve family members who will then be interested in the finished project. Building blogs and websites is important too. I recommend Nina's insights. Adapt them to your own situation.

I'm taking the challenge to blog every day in November. What is your goal?

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog! I'm a fellow GeneaBlogger, and I'm giving you the Ancestor Approved Award. You can go here to pick it up http://familytreegal.blogspot.com/2010/12/talk-about-it-tuesday-this-last-week-i.html