I love to research and am good at it. However, at some point you have to put down the research and start the writing. I have not been able to get to that point yet because I perceive too many gaps in “the” story.
I came up with the “Walking Back to Sussex” story line over a year ago; I’d write about my research as I worked for a year to get fit and healthy, to be able to travel to Lewes, Sussex, and work on that most interesting aspect (to me) of the story, in person. But I could neither figure out the writing transition between the research and the walking nor could I get the physical work to be consistent as well as interesting to write about. I wrote one blog post on my personal web site and then got wrapped up in my personal trials and tribulations for 2015 and am only now getting back to working on how to write “the” book.
Thinking about “the” story this year, themes began to arise, subject groups I either know something about or wish I knew more about. I realized I could write essays better than chapters of a one-story book; the essays would only have to be loosely connected or date ordered. I could weave information through and build on it gradually; subtly go over some basic information multiple times from different directions without it getting tedious.
Base genealogy is records of birth, baptism, marriage, military records, death; public, state, and church records of that ilk. I realized I have some interesting stories surrounding those records; I have a second great grandfather born at sea during the Napoleonic Wars; multiple wills that trace a single heirloom, and heirlooms mentioned that one wishes one could see and are jealous were not handed down.
There’s a death it took five years to find and move from mystery disappearance to Dunkirk, France; a surprising result. The problem with France is they speak French and I don’t. Just hiring a French researcher to find out the details has been an adventure all its own.
There’s a book of poems by a great aunt’s female business partner with a poem about the sweetness of a younger great aunt, the first’s namesake niece, for whom there’s a confirming 1863 photograph of an 1808 portrait painting; the photograph sent to the author in the United States from her fourth cousin in Australia.
Maybe “the” story does not exist as I would like it to but there are still worthy stories to be told. My second great grandfather, Richard Edward Cardin (1805-1871) had a son Richard but his line died out in South Africa nearly 100 years ago. My great grandfather was Frank Charles Cantrell Cardin (1856-1936) and his line is down to my first cousin who only has a daughter.
There are still a couple male 4th cousins with the Cardin name but I am reminded of my third great grandfather’s immediate family, one I call “the lost generation” as only my third great grandfather and his youngest sister married and had children, out of nine siblings. It makes me think of the punch line of John Donne’s “Meditation 17”:
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. . .