Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Ready... Go... Set! My Plan to Write My Family History is Kinda Going Sideways..

The title of this blog post hints at my issue. When you do things out of order the process often doesn't go well. Such is my case. I haven't thought things through very well before committing to writing my family history this month. Now I'm in a bit of a quandary. I'm making all kinds of realizations. The biggest realization of all is that I've already written much of this family history. Sort of.

I had this idea to write a collection of short bios as the family history and somehow include many of the names and dates I've amassed in my genealogy software (Legacy) for the Mizera line. I thought I'd start with my maternal grandmother, Sophie Mizera. When I sat down to write about her I remembered that I'd written about her before, on this very blog. Maybe I could find some inspiration there...

Unlike many genealogy bloggers who tagged the surnames of the people they wrote about, I never did. So when I went to look at my tag for "Personal Genealogy" I found 274 articles. Wow! I had no idea I'd written so many about my family! Then I went through them all and discovered 21 articles that featured Sophie, and most of them included photographs and scrapbook pages I'd designed. I was kinda gobsmacked by that. That's a lot of writing already done! And I found even more about my mom. But what do I do with all those articles? Copy and paste them into Scrivener and go from there?

I decided to think on it a while and in the meantime go on to other people.

So then I opened up Legacy and printed out a pedigree chart for Sophie. I looked over the information. It was little too spartan to use as is. Then I looked over all those tabs in Legacy that I never click on and realized that with a click of a tab I could create an "Ancestor Book" with loads of information about my Mizera ancestors (56 pages). And because of the "events" I'd created, some of their stories were basically written too. Maybe not in pretty paragraph form, but the info was there.

Click! Here's a different approach, a "Descendant Book" from one of the Mizeras way out at the end of the family line... 73 pages with sources cited and even a photo here and there. I never looked at these options before so I had no idea what they were about. Looking over these impressive books, one thing became really apparent. Since all of this family line was from a handful of small villages within a few miles of each other, their bios/profiles have a lot of redundant information (I'm thinking of local and world history and events). Everyone in a given generation has roughly the same local and world events in their bio/profiles and that info overlaps to some extent with the generations before and after. So what do I do with all of this information? Edit it, person by person, and create a PDF and import it into Scrivener? Hmmm.

The more I think about this the more I like the idea of using the blog posts I've already written and the vital records data I've entered into Legacy for a good chunk of the family history book. Maybe I could just write a few chapters about the history of the villages in Poland, the role of the Catholic church in their lives, farming (since that's how they all made their living), immigration... heirlooms... done! But how do I combine them? If I create one PDF of my blog articles, another PDF of an "Ancestor Book" from Legacy, and a third PDF of the topics not yet covered (but just mentioned) written maybe in Scrivener or Google Drive, will Scrivener (or some other software) be able to paginate it all and create one table of contents with a uniform font and formatting throughout? Am I dreaming??? LOL!

I know I can't be the first person who has come up with this idea. Has anyone actually done it? If so, please, please leave me a comment and let me know how you did it. I'd prefer not to reinvent the wheel. ;-)