Family History

29 Apr

Last night at the writers group, there was another new face, an older woman, as are at about half of the members, and yet another family historian writing her mother’s life story and family exploits.

c2014, KB

c2014, KB

Among the writers I know, this seems to be a trend: female writers using family history for creative nonfiction, biography, or historical fiction. They are all at least twenty years older than I, meaning the youngest is in her sixties. One seventy-something friend, Nancy, recently published the third volume of historical fiction based on her mother’s life. Kathryn, in her early sixties, is currently organizing notes about and transcribing stories told by her near-century-old mother to write a fictionalized account of her mother’s early life. The new writer, Susan, wants to take readers back to the 11th century, then follow her mother’s family to the present day.

Yet another member of the group, Marguerite, is writing true short stories about her childhood and youth; and Mary is expanding her great-grandparents’ daring romance into a novel.

Other members are writing urban fantasy, fractured fairy tales, outer space adventures, a memoir about raising a severely autistic foster son.

And then there’s me.

Yes, learning about my family history is interesting. I’d love to have the money and the time to do thorough research. But I can’t. Not yet. Still, I know enough interesting details about recent generations that I could write a few short stories, maybe a whole novel, but nothing resembling a viable fact-filled tome.

I wonder, in contrast to all the women using their mothers’ stories or family trees as springboards for literature, are there any male writers out there writing their fathers’ stories? Where are they?


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4 responses to “Family History

  1. Peter Stone

    April 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Keanan
    My father’s never told me much of his past. Most of what I know about his past was told to me by my mother. She’s told me a lot about her past too. Maybe father’s are less likely to open up about their life stories? Just a thought.

  2. Keanan

    April 30, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    My dad was the storyteller in my family. Mom didn’t participate much, although she did try to keep Dad from telling us TOO much, know what I mean? She didn’t wanting us getting mischievous ideas or having nightmares. Both sides of my family have interesting histories, so I’d like to learn more. For now, all I have are those stories.

  3. genesispiano

    May 1, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Quite a puzzle. One thing I thought of is a majority of the writers I know are female, so that might skew things in their direction simply by sheer volume.

    Beyond that, though…why does anyone, male or female, desire to connect with the past? Why do others not seem interested in that? Why do people have combined in them an interest in the past with the notion that it should be shared with others? What’s moving there in terms of strategy for doing so?

    Both my parents tell stories from their pasts, but I think my dad’s are confined to personal experiences whereas Mom’s include family members more often. For whatever that’s worth.

  4. Keanan

    May 1, 2014 at 10:01 am

    You’re probably right about the numbers: There are definitely more women than men in my writing group now, and I’ve seen the same disparity in all the other groups to which I’ve belonged. At conferences, though, there seems to be a greater balance. Weird.

    I’m curious about both sides of my family history, because there are mysteries there: hints of a criminal past in in my mom’s ancestors, and hiding of Indian heritage on my father’s side (hiding due to discrimination and improper treatment, not because they were ashamed).


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