To many people history is boring.
I can understand that. Some history turns me off, while other aspects of history fascinate me. I guess it sometimes depends on the mood I’m in, or the particular aspect of history being discussed, read or shown on television. To many people family history is deadly boring – with and emphasis on the “dead” part.
Some writers complain that they have trouble coming up with ideas for stories and novels. My suggestion is to get hold of a family history book. If your family hasn’t had a family history book published, borrow someone else’s history. I have two family books; one based on my father’s side, the other on my mother’s family. Both are filled with family genealogical diagrams illustrating relationships in the broader family. They also include many interesting but rather stiff upper lip type photos which can be a little amusing today.
But I digress.
Both books contain hundreds of short accounts of the lives of people in my family. Many of these people are now dead. The accounts range from the familiar, mundane and ordinary, through to the unbelievable, adventurous and plain tragic. Take for example the account of my ancestors on my father’s side as they escaped religious persecution in their home land and migrated half way around the world to settle here in South Australia. Several members died on the boat journey out here. The story of the survivors shows great courage and drama. It’s ready made for retelling, possibly best written as fiction.
Any family history book, if it contains accounts of the lives of ordinary people, will be a fertile field ready for harvesting by a creative and imaginative writer. Troll through the book looking for that one story that captures your imagination. Then let that imagination have full rein. Let the story run its course. Don’t necessarily worry about sticking to the facts; you are writing fiction. Writers of historical fiction do this all the time; their stories are fiction based on a true story or actual event.
I hope you find a little gem of a story.
I love bookshops.
They are my favourite type of shop. I probably spend more time in bookshops than any other type though I should add that I rarely do our grocery shopping. So it was with great sadness yesterday that I visited our local bookshop knowing that it was closing down ths week. As part of a large chain which has been in trouble across the country recently, it was another victim of poor management at the top. The local shop was excellently run but the staff have suffered at the hands of those who should know better.
I guess that this is not an uncommon occurance in the bookshop world these days. Poor management aided by the growth of online shops has seen many shops close. Yes – I’m guilty of buying online too, but usually only books with which I am familiar. Nothing online can replace actually handling the physical object before deciding to buy. Sadly I guess I will have to gradually forego this simple pleasure as more and more bookshops close in the coming years.
What did I buy, I hear you ask? At 50% off I couldn’t resist Geraldine Brooks’ novel People of the book. Strangely, sadly ironic that that was the book I most wanted to buy (read a review here). Are our bookshops in danger of disappearing?
I love bookshops.
I could easily work in one but then I wouldn’t have as much time to read and write. Never mind.
Sadly, news came earlier this week that two big bookshop chains here in Australia are in financial trouble and have gone into voluntary administration. I have enjoyed many visits to both Borders and Angus and Robertson (A&R) shops over the years. A&R actually bought out the struggling Borders sometime in the last year or so. The Australian Borders chain has no financial connections with the American chain which is also in trouble. A&R is one the oldest and most respected chain bookshops in Australia with a history stretching back over 150 years. I’m not sure how this will effect the local shop in my own hometown.
Rapidly growing internet sales of books, especially to overseas giants like Amazon, have been blamed. You can read more details on the ABC website here. I must admit to buying some books online, but only shops here in Australia, and generally only those I can’t physically visit due to distance. These are usually genre specific shops. Most of my books are still bought in traditional bookshops, but I see my buying habits are changing too. I now do a large proportion of my business and bill paying online.
If these two chains o under, the effect on readers will certainly be significant. How this will impact on writers is yet to be seen.
Good reading and good writing.