Last September, at a genealogy conference, speaker Lisa Louise Cooke recommended I write a blog. “A blog is a good cousin-catcher,” she said. So I started a blog. Eight months and 34 blog posts later, I am still amazed by the tales I’ve been discovering about my ancestors, however, it is time to assess what I’ve learned so far from writing the blog.
Writing Up The Ancestors has helped me get in touch with at least two very distant relations. But even more important than catching cousins, it is helping me get started on what I hope will eventually be a two family history books, one about my father’s Scottish ancestors, the other about my mother’s roots in Montreal. That is a big undertaking but, just like any big project, it isn’t so bad when you break it down into small tasks — say, 500 words a week. These stories require a lot of work. Checking all the facts is particularly time consuming. By the time I’ve finished editing, I usually run out of steam and tell myself I will do the references later. That has been a mistake. Even if I don’t put the complete references on the blog, I should be writing up them for myself, while I have all my files in front of me. I will catch up with them over the summer, and I have promised myself I will take care of them weekly when I resume writing regularly.
It is hard to assess the blog’s success. I am pleased with it in that I am basically writing it for myself and making progress towards my long-term goals. As for readership, by mid-June 2014, I’ve had 5,200 post views, which is not stellar, but I’m satisfied. I made an effort when I created this blog to ensure it could be found on Google. And if those who discover it enjoy it, I think that is because I try to focus as much on my process of discovery as on my ancestors’ stories.
Finally, sitting in front of the computer is great in the winter, but now that summer is finally here, I want to be outside, gardening and enjoying the sunshine. Also, I need to prepare for a fall research trip to England. So, I may post occasionally, but for now, it is time for a break.