Why a blog? The short answer is legacy. We all want to leave our mark on the world, and few of us do anything “historical”. I want to at least try to leave behind more than some vital records, photos and stories that will fade after a couple of generations. As an erstwhile genealogist I have collected a lot of data, but I know very little about my ancestors as people. When I started in on genealogy just filling in the names and birth dates of my ancestors was very satisfying. This was filling in the gaps as I saw them. After doing that for awhile it turned out that it was really filling in the wireframes of the gaps, but not the filler. Who were these people? Would I like them? Would I see them in me or the family I know? When I find a story about an ancestor it is the genealogical event of the year for me.
Some of the stories I want to write about are just cobbled together from chronological data, lacking any personality. These can be pretty cool in general terms because I can at least map out a part of their lives. For example, my paternal great grandfather was a Union soldier in the American Civil War. From records I have obtained I know roughly when and where he was when he volunteered, his dates of promotion and, by inference, what battles he was in (not many actually), plus a few other details. Just filling that in was great. I’ll post about it some time. But, again, I don’t have a sense of his personality.
Then there is “Grandpa Davis,” my maternal great-great grandfather, who actually wrote a memoir. Not well. He was literate, but not masterfully so, and his memoir stops when he was 26. Well, hey, he was 80 when he wrote it, so maybe he got tired. He was telling my mom stories around that time, and she loved him dearly, so I don’t begrudge the time he spent with her instead of writing.
Any written memoir is a treasure to descendants who never knew the writer. After reading Grandpa Davis’s I feel like I know him, even if it’s just a little. He lived a very bucolic, Tom Sawyer-ish young life. His memoir is mostly mundane, but a fun read just because, well, he bothered to write it, and because many of the things my mother told me about his personality are there on paper, written by him. He left a little bit of himself behind. I aspire to do that.
There are so few of those stories and so many people who are just a few data points. What are we here for if not to pass on as much of our experience as we can? So, for better or worse, I want to leave behind enough of myself so future generations can learn from me and, if they want to, get to know me a bit. That is the biggest reason I’m starting a blog. I don’t really have a lot to write about that will interest most folks. It’s just sort of a modern day diary or journal.
Of course there are plenty of other motivations. Number two on my list is a desire to see if I can actually do it. I don’t mean to post every day or even every week. If I manage, in the long run, to post more than once a month I’ll feel good about it. Learning to write in a spontaneous style is a bit like jazz improvisation, which I do pretty well. On the other hand, prosaic discourse isn’t as forgiving as jazz, which flies on by without pausing for introspection. My writing sits there looking back at me saying “Ha ha! So you thought you meant that, eh? What has experience taught you now?” or “Well you could have worded THAT better!”
There is so much meaning that can be gleaned from what one writes, whether one meant it that way or not. So I want to see if I can make it through the growing pains of blogging. Growing pains aren’t usually fun, but no pain no gain and, hey, the cool part about the web is that we can each have our own magazine to publish as well or as poorly as we are willing and able to both execute and to tolerate.
Okay, fine. Now, what to write about? Ah, there’s the rub. Like most, I have opinions on politics, philosophy, and religion. Like most, I keep them under my hat unless the situation is comfy enough to bring me out of my shell. With all the vitriol being thrown around these days I’m even more hesitant to stick my literary neck out. But at the same time there are some things I want to say, or at least chime in with a “me too, and here’s why”. So get ready. Here I come.
The third reason for a blog is to share stuff I like. My genealogical research might help other genealogists, and they might see mine and offer additional information or corrections to me.
I’m also into musical tuning. I have well-defined and (to me) well-reasoned opinions about it and I want to spread those around. Maybe some other people agree with me. That’d be pretty neat.
Finally, I am an amateur photographer. I actually like some of my photos and would like to share them. Some I like because they are nice photos, and some because they say something about me or the places I like. Other photos are just part of the narrative I want to spin.
So when you look at my blog and my web site you are seeing a slice of me. Let the phun begin…