Your People

While doing the dishes or laundry or cooking, I like to listen to audiobooks, interviews or podcasts. It makes me feel like I’m working on my writing and craft while doing things I don’t love so much but have to do because of life.

Yesterday I listened to this story on This American Life about a woman who looked into the history of a family story about her grandfather getting abducted as a boy. It was a tale that was told often and had become a core memory of the family. One day her dad handed over a scrapbook of news articles and photos and journal entries about the ordeal.

She became curious about some of the details and started to research. What had begun as something she had a few questions about turned into an almost full-time job with strange and interesting turns. She made new friends in the process, had hard discussions with her family, and uncovered evidence about a mystery that had been long put in a drawer.

I was fascinated! I thought about all the stories of my family. The things we know from oral traditions, the things we have documented and things we could find out if we dug a little deeper. Have you ever researched an ancestor? Asked questions about things that puzzled you about your history? Looked at narratives, first-person accounts of their journeys, every day life, etc.?

Our histories are full of people, full of stories, full of heart ache, full of triumphs, full of mistakes. What if you took time to interview some of your family? Got into the details? Learned new things? I think this is the most fascinating stuff and could lead to compelling novels or memoirs or even just family discussions

I challenge anyone reading this to do it. This week. Talk to one person in your family about a story you’ve had questions about. Or maybe just ask them more about an experience you don’t understand or have wondered about. See what happens. Free-write about their response, how it matched up with your understanding, and what new questions you have.

Let me know if you do it. Also tell me any podcasts or audiobooks you love. Happy Monday and Happy February and Happy Stories.

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