I am a hoarder. Yes, I admit it. I am keeper of the family letters and a treasure trove of family stories I heard in my youth. I have gathered names, dates, documents, baptism certificates, marriage dates, names and the history of places and people, some who I’ve know, but many who I have not. I have visited libraries and cemeteries, delved into Bibles, and talked to the who were there when it happened. However, this information means nothing if I cannot find a way to pass it on to the next generation. Writing about a past that I didn’t live in requires research, broad understanding of the times, and being creative with the intimate details of ancestors I’ve never met. And in the end, it isn’t marketability that is most important. What it comes down to are questions like: does the story make sense, does the reader care about the characters, is the reader drawn to the next chapter…and for me one prime question: can the reader learning about the past hearing the story of the daily trials and tribulations one family? Historical narrative is storytelling in a historical context, so both the context and the story are vital.
So I’m Showing My Hand…showing you what I’ve been “up to.” My first foray into historical narrative was a short story called, “Come Home, Peter.” The time was 1930 at very beginning of the depression. The location is my grandparents home in Woodstock, Illinois. Things had been rolling along pretty well for the Wienke family, but then their son-in-law Peter is diagnosed with tuberculosis and the world is turned topsy turvy. See Family Stories from the Attic .
This site is going to document my journey into my family legends and as a companion to my books beginning with Ida’s Family (working title). Here those interested can find pictures of the characters, additional information about writing historical narrative, and bios of people and places touched by my story. The picture at the top of the page is of Lincoln Avenue in Woodstock, Illinois circa 1905. Ida and John Wienke’s new house is the first one on the left….365 Lincoln Avenue. Their home was close to his downtown grocery. In 1905, with a second child is on the way, this house and this town was their respite from a world of progress.
I’m having a great time….hope you do to!