Family History 4 All
Learn how to trace YOUR
Newsletter No. 33
- September 2009.
or get a free trial here.
New on Family History 4
I hope this message
finds you all in good health. If you have an article or amusing story
to share with us then please don’t be afraid to send it for publication…you
can remain anonymous if you prefer but we want you all to feel you can
contribute if you want to. Just send an
with the words
‘Newsletter item’ in the subject box. And we will include it at the first
opportunity, subject to editing, if necessary of course.
I'd like to welcome my new subscribers. I
am now offering an eBook to all my subscribers totally FREE
and here's the link: Genealogy Guide Please do
not tell anyone about this link as it's only for subscribers. If your
friends wish to subscribe they will get the guide through this link.
1. Our welcome
Article – How to Use Writing Your
Autobiography to Help You Better Understand Yourself
Months Featured Article:
Journaling Your Memories from: Your Family Legacy
1. Our welcome
Hello and welcome to the
'September edition' of your favourite newsletter.
Late again! It's becoming
a habit. Sorry. But at least you know you won't get bombarded with a lot
of rubbish like subscribers to other newsletters.
Carol and I just
celebrated our 24th anniversary. We're looking forward to the next one. I
might take her somewhere exiting...maybe Blackpool! hehe. She will
probably ask me to take her to Dublin as she is doing some serious
research on her own Irish links.
Carol and a friend just
had a couple of days in Dublin, so now she knows where the records offices
are. She didn't get any research done this time as it was just a short
break. At least when I take her, we will be able to find our way about. If
anyone has any recommendations for our trip next year we would love to
Enough of my ramblings -
On with the newsletter...
Article – How to Use Writing Your
Autobiography to Help You Better Understand Yourself By
Writing Your Own Life Story
Your life doesn’t have to be lived in the lime light to
be worthy of reading about or be of value to you and educational for
posterity and as a historical account. You can write your own
autobiography and you will learn about your life in the process.
When people find out that I’m a writer one of the most
common things said to me is, “You should write my life story...that
would be a best seller.” I usually tell them, “I bet it would!” The
truth is most writers, including me, have more ideas for stories and
more subjects to write about than they have years left to write. If
your story is going to get written it’s up to you.
Writing your own story is a journey. Writing an
autobiography can be a way to learn about yourself. It can also be a
way to let go of some of the things that have held you back. It gives
you an opportunity to examine the events of your life on paper. It can
free you to get events and feelings down on paper and out of our own
psyche. Aside from benefiting you it can be a great help to those who
come after you as it will help them know who you were as an individual.
For most of us, all traces of our lives are forgotten
within three generations of our passing. Who we were, what mattered to
us, and how we lived is all but forgotten except for evidence left
behind in census, church and other documentation. Getting your story
down is important to our descendants. However, the most important value
is to the writer as we sift through our lives and see it in context with
the rest of the world and within our family and peer groups and as we
see on paper how much we have accomplished in spite of any losses or
hardships. It puts everything in perspective. Our story might be about
a certain section of life, one pivotal moment in time or a grouping of
moments personal to us or our experience of the historical events that
occur during our life time. Telling our story makes history come alive.
A personal autobiography captures the writer’s truth.
Documents are factual but they don’t tell the truth. They are wrought
with errors, typos, interpretations and outright falsehoods. Facts and
the truth are not the same. Facts can be manipulated. The truth is and
always will be. Getting to the truth even when we are writing about our
own lives can be very difficult because our own perception alters the
truth. That is why honesty and integrity are key to the process.
When we use the autobiography to better understand
ourselves we can bring illumination and acceptance to our past. It
takes integrity and the ability to look at and recognize our personality
traits both good and bad. The writer can acknowledge their mistakes and
missteps as well as the truth that they did the best they could do at
the time or that they didn’t but they went on anyway. That knowledge
can be of value to both you and readers.
Writing about your own life is enjoyable, cathartic,
and maddening at times but in the end it can bring us some understanding
and peace. It is a roller coaster ride even for those of us who lived
the most charmed of lives. It can also be extremely rewarding.
Format is unimportant. It doesn’t have to be in the
form of prose, it can be a book of poetry, a collection of quotes, a
collection of personality inventory tests, a scrap book of documents
such as report cards, photos or a list of significant dates or art
journal pages or a combination of all of it. The important thing is you
take a look at what you have accomplished and failures and even some
regrets but that you don’t wallow. That you balance the good with the
bad and actively look for the pivotal events, the behaviour patterns,
the reoccurring themes and the falsehoods that you have told yourself
and walk out in faith and write down your truths.
There is a chance that you will want people to read
your writing now. Your family may not be the best resource for feed
back. This autobiography is for you first and foremost and for
posterity second. Eye witness accounts seldom line up with each other
so accept that people will not agree with your perception. Perception
becomes each individual’s reality. If you like you can ask your other
family members to write down their perceptions of a situation or event;
the death of a parent or the onset of sudden celebrity. Incorporate
those stories as quotes within your own life story to corroborate or
discount your perception at the time. The reader will appreciate your
honesty and courage in including other people’s perception. Join a
writers group, a meet-up or genealogical group where you can share your
writing and get feed back, or start a personal blog where you post your
writing for those who are interested. This will avoid you getting mired
in a family dispute over debatable events that robs you of the
enthusiasm needed to write your story.
Don’t use names of living people without their
Don’t write details of things you did that were
illegal unless the statute of limitations has run out or you already
paid for your transgression.
Don’t take too long to tell one story. 1500 words
more ore less is a good amount for one account. Self editing isn’t for
sissy’s so if you have a fellow writer or friend who is willing to be
honest take them up on it or you can pay for an editor to review your
work and cut away the dead wood.
Don’t edit out the hard stuff. It is perfectly okay
to be oblique, or elude without getting into the horrific details if
that would traumatize the reader.
If it isn’t the right time for you to face some
aspects of your life DON’T! Do this when you are strong not when you
are feeling less that you should to confront your past.
Write from the heart; if your story is true but lacks
heart nobody will benefit from it. Heart requires bravery and honesty.
Perhaps the hardest person to be honest with is ourselves.
Start with the story that is just dying to get out and
work around it.
Use historical events in the back ground. You can
find timelines on line that will help you know what important events
shaped your life.
Ask the questions, “Is this the way I want to be
remembered?” and “Am I being genuine?”
Collect photographic evidence and documents to slip in
and corroborate your story. This will make the reader trust you and it
will help you dig through your own perceptions and uncover the truth of
your own story.
Reread your own writing. Put it away for a while and
reread and rewrite it as many times as it takes.
Commit to balanced and fair coverage of your own
life. You may have been a victim, and abuser, a hero or a coward at
times in your life but, you are not a stick figure, you have depth and
character and moments of greatness and weakness and write about both
Treat everyone you write about with compassion
including yourself. According to Hanlon’s Razor, “Never attribute to
malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Everyone
makes errors and few are ruled by cruelty and looking at actions as an
act of ignorance is sometimes the best way to forgive people.
Polish the manuscript and get rid of any errors before
you show it to anyone for a critique. Remember it is always
easier to rewrite than it is to write. Be sure to explain how to
critique and give guidelines for doing so. It can be as simple as
asking the reader to tell you what they like and don’t like and why.
Thank everyone for their comments and save both of you the trouble and
don’t argue with them. Art is subjective. Use what you can to make
your writing better and ignore what you don’t think serves you. Tell
them to skip the punctuation and spelling and get someone you trust or a
professional to edit it.
Most copy stores or desk top publishers have a way to
print on demand and there are companies that will print on demand as
well. You can give the stories to genealogy resources and the local
genealogical or historical societies for their archives as well this
will insure that your story will not be easily forgotten.
Writing your own life story will help you understand
yourself better if you are honest with yourself and put those events in
your life in context. So often we read autobiographies that show people
only in one light; either as hero, victim, scoundrel or archetype.
During your process you might find it beneficial to read other people’s
autobiography to familiarize yourself with styles, topics and delivery.
If you don’t know where to start I found an e-book
called, “The Memorygrabber” at
www.FamilyHistoryProducts.com to be an invaluable resource
that makes the daunting task a lot of fun. I used this author’s format
to start my own life story. There are also other resources at the
library and on-line that will help you with this journey of
We like to keep our affiliates up to date with all our new features, so
thought you might like to know about the NEW map view we have
introduced into family trees.
This amazing new feature maps all relations possible in each member's
family tree based on their place of birth. Members can also interact with
the map view and re-plot their own relations in the exact road where they
were born! This allows them to see how their family has moved around the
country - or even the world - over the decades. The map view is very
simple to use and is accompanied by a full set of instructions:
The Genes Reunited Team
Months Featured Article:
Journaling Your Memories
In preserving your
family heritage, journaling is the addition of written details often done
to compliment a picture or document. The most common kind of journaling is
noting the names of people in a photograph, but as easy as this is, there
is one all too familiar mistake made here...Read full article next
You have received this newsletter by
subscribing from this or one of our 'sister' sites. Or it has been
forwarded from a friend/relative etc. If it's the latter and you would
like your own subscription, then please click here:
Free Newsletter. Unsubscribe info can also be found on this
page. Here's the link to our archives:
History For All Newsletter Archive
I really hope you enjoyed
this months newsletter. And in case you forgot earlier - Please sign the
PS. Please forward
this newsletter to your friends/relatives if they are interested in
family history, with our compliments.
To send us a comment or an article you can
Or by snail mail
to: Jim Ackroyd. Address: 12 Avondale Road. Doncaster. South
Yorkshire. UK. DN2 6DE
Take a look at our other web sites here:
P.S. I hope you are not
offended by the advertisements on this site. I get a small commission from
some of them which helps towards the cost of my hosting and domain fees.
Sometimes I make a little extra. In fact I've worked out that if the
'little extra' grows at around the same rate, I should be able to retire
when I'm 129 years old :-)