Friday, November 25, 2016

Writing for the family

On this blog, I mostly talk about writing for general audiences and writing for publication, but today I'd like to encourage another kind of writing: writing for one's family.

Take the time, and encourage your relatives to take the time, to jot down some of the following:
--What you know of the family history
--Funny stories and memories (You know, the ones that get told and re-told around holiday tables over the years? Write them down.)
--Your own accounts of big moments in your own life: wedding day, first job, birth of children, etc. Maybe you've climbed a mountain or won a Pulitzer or competed in the Olympics. Tell about it.
--Your personal accounts of historic events: where were you and what were you doing on 9/11, during the moon landing, during any big event for which you were alive? How did you feel? How did the average person experience these?
--How you've experienced life: do you remember what life was like before the internet? What have we lost that you don't want to go unremembered?

People say we will no longer need personal historical documents like letters and diaries because we document everything on social media. If you want to know what Great-Grandma's life was like, you'll be able to look at her Facebook account!

Well, maybe. But maybe not. The fate of our social media accounts is not entirely under our control. And even if all that information is preserved in perpetuity, it still might be nicer to have the information in a more reader-friendly format.

Your kids may not want to read your account right now, but sometime far in the future, they probably will. And even if they never do, someone in your family, somewhere along the line, will get interested in family history and will want to know this stuff. Which reminds me: label your photographs, too. Include first and last names, and dates.

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