Celebrating friendships, stories and discoveries along the way

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Writers' Blog Tour

My genealogy friend and colleague Liz Loveland invited me to take part in a Writers' Blog Tour to encourage sharing among writers about their current projects through their blog sites. Liz's Tour post is viewable at her blog site, My Adventures in Genealogy. Each Tour participant answers four questions about their writing, and then introduces other writers to continue the Tour.

What am I working on?

I am currently working on a story concerning my ancestor’s experience in the 27th Connecticut Infantry Volunteer Regiment during the Civil War. He was killed in his first battle on December 13, 1862 during the ill-fated attempts by the Union Army to seize Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg. The story of his experience is compelling because it is so tragic. A young man in the prime of his life is cut down by the ravages of war before he has the chance to experience all that life has to offer. The episode in which he was killed is even more heartbreaking when one recognizes that the repeated assaults on Marye’s Heights were intended as diversionary movements by the Union Army to draw Confederate forces away from Prospect Hill, the pivotal military objective for winning the battle.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not certain that my work does differ from other historical writing except, perhaps, for my perspectives on it. I am writing my ancestor’s story in two separate presentations: one as historical nonfiction and another as creative nonfiction. The creative presentation allows more freedom in my writing, as I can present his Civil War experience as a historical and spiritual journey through the lens of my head and heart. Unfortunately I have no actual letters or journals written by my ancestor, but I have come to know him by reading what his officers and comrades have written about him. I have visited Fredericksburg several times and have walked the ground where he fell. I have travelled to New Haven, Connecticut, where he was born and lived his entire life before military service. I have paid my respects at the family plot at Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven where his parents and siblings are buried and where a memorial gravestone was placed in his honor. My personal experiences in following in his footsteps have become intertwined with his journey. My hope is to create a compelling, inspirational story that others will want to read.

Why do I write what I do?

I write because I am passionate about history and genealogical research. The study of history reveals that the challenges that our ancestors faced are still very relevant on a human level today. Historical and genealogical research is endlessly fascinating, as there is always something new to learn about the past. History has always been captivating for me, as the story is inevitably influenced by the one who reports it. A report of a single event told by many authors always differs in a tantalizing way. Some aspect of the truth is present in every historical story, and many aspects of the story are colored by the perspectives of the author. The challenge for the reader is to discern between the truth and the bias.

In particular the Civil War era has been very compelling for me, as the experiences of the soldiers at the edge of warfare and their families on the home front are exposed to the full range of the human emotional experience. Love, sacrifice, tragedy, grief, anger, and fear are ever present in these stories.

I write regularly about my genealogical discoveries and experiences in my Journeys of a Constant Genealogist blog. I am also documenting three of my ancestor’s Civil War experiences in sesquicentennial tribute blogs to their regiments, posting blog entries on dates significant to the history of the regiment. I created these tribute blogs to honor the men who served in these regiments, but in return I have been honored. In the process I have learned so much about their experiences and the challenges they faced in battle. I am often in awe or in tears at what they endured.

How does my writing process work?

I generally begin with an outline to clarify my thoughts surrounding my project, but I must confess that my best inspirations come when I am very relaxed, either while sleeping at night or while driving to work. My current project concerning my Civil War ancestor has been beckoning to me especially at night while I sleep. I believe that this type of inspiration is very powerful, very spiritual, and not to be ignored.

Introducing the next Tour participant.

I have the pleasure of introducing the next participant on the Tour, who writes about social history. I hope to have at least one other participant to introduce shortly.

Lori Lyn Price is a genealogist, a professional speaker and a historical researcher. She writes about social history for genealogists at her BridgingThePast.com blog. She is using her 3rd great-grandfather as a case study and plans to use his life as a lens for a book about Mormon culture and history in the 1800s. She is working towards a Master's degree in history. Her thesis is based on medicinal recipes from the 1600s. Lori Lyn showcases her blog tour post on on her personal blog Drewmeister and discusses it on her social history blog Bridging the Past.

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