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A Pilgrim in the Family

I think I’m addicted to genealogy, specifically that of my family and now my husband’s family. I started researching my father’s family history in order to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I already knew I had a Revolutionary War Minuteman for a fourth great-grandfather from a family history, which made completing the application for DAR membership less daunting than I anticipated. That done, I wanted to learn about his parents beyond their names and dates of death–were they born in Maine (which is where they lived when two of their sons ventured to Groton, VT)?; where are they buried?; where did their parents come from?;–the usual sort of questions you want answers to. But there isn’t much information on, my main research site.

Not making much progress there, I moved on to the German side of my family. When I realized that I would need my German-speaking mother’s undivided attention for about six weeks to make any headway in that arena, I decided that my husband’s family might be easier to research. We already knew about the Civil War soldier who died at Andersonville Prison but we weren’t aware of the two Revolutionary War soldiers I unearthed.

"Mayflower Harbor" by Hans Holbein the Younger; in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England

“Mayflower Harbor” by William Halsall, 1882, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA

Then–JACKPOT!! I am 99% certain that my husband is a lineal descendant of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony who arrived in New England on the Mayflower. With a Pilgrim in the family, Thanksgiving will never be the same.

My own research brought me to this conclusion and when I ventured out to Wiki Tree, a free genealogy website, there it was, printed boldly on the bottom of my mother-in-law’s record: “Mayflower Descendant (Gov. William Bradford). I immediately sent a text to my three daughters: “SOMEBODY CALL ME! I am hyperventilating.” Soon I was talking to one daughter on my cell phone (left ear) with another daughter on the home phone (right ear). I’d say they were excited as well–but not as much as their mother was. And it’s not even my own family.

"King Henry VIII" by Hans Holbein the Younger, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England

“King Henry VIII” by Hans Holbein the Younger, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England

One of my granddaughters was not impressed by the Mayflower connection. Her comment: “I don’t care. I just want to know if I’m a princess.” Hmmm…I think we would know if that were the case but just for fun I went looking for a royal connection. I’m certain I violated all rules of genealogy research when I just clicked away on every link to every father of the next male in the line until I reached a dead end. It just happened to be on Sir Edward Rogers, born in 1498, who served as a courtier to Henry VIII. Yes, that Henry VIII. Sir Edward may not have been a prince but he did hang out with a king! What remains to be determined is if he is a relative.

Real genealogists take their research seriously. Which is what I should be doing with my writing. Is this new hobby of mine just another means of avoiding writing? (That’s a rhetorical and, by now, annoying question. So don’t answer it.) I’m stuck in the saggy middle of my murder mystery–the saggy middle of my outline of the novel, not the actual writing of it. My latest goal is to generate the same enthusiasm for writing this mystery that I have for researching dead ancestors. Wish me luck!

Looking forward to 12:01 a.m. December 1

This will be short as the deadline for NaNoWriMo is just three days away. I have attained 42,829 out of 50,000 words with three days without commitments remaining so I predict that I will “win” NaNoWriMo. Yippee!! I am ready for 12:01 a.m. on December 1 to arrive so that I can stop writing “Full Circle” what feels like every free minute of every day.

Of course, I exaggerate. I have taken some extended breaks during the month and I’ve enjoyed every moment of them, especially my vacation to the Cancun area. I only wrote one time out of the five days we were gone but that one time was quite satisfying. I even hit my word count on Thanksgiving day–and I hosted the holiday dinner after returning from my trip at eleven the night before.

What I’ve learned from all of this is that I am able to write regardless of the circumstances. I don’t need the perfect chair (I wrote on the airplane) or to be in the mood to write. I can even write while indulging in (gulp) Hallmark holiday movies. Wish I could say that they didn’t have an influence on what I wrote, though love stories and happy endings aren’t all that bad. Maybe my next novel will take place in a castle…

Another lesson has been that it isn’t that hard to whip out a lot of words if I’m prepared to also whip out a lot of revising. In the future. Revising that I’m actually looking forward to doing. Not lying.


The places that November will take me

Did bragging that I am ahead of my word count for NaNoWriMo on November 2nd jinx my progress? Seven days later, I am now over a full day’s word count (2,000+ words) behind….and feeling that I am destined to fall even further behind.

The graph on the NaNo website states that at my current writing rate, I will hit my 50,000 word goal on December 5, not November 30. As sophisticated as their website is, it doesn’t take into account hosting Thanksgiving dinner, spending five days at a resort near Cancun, Mexico, with my middle daughter and her family, and celebrating my birthday, just to name a few of the activities that I have given permission to distract me from writing.

I should hit the road writing when I get up in the morning–but I don’t. First it’s the local news (usually a repeat of the prior evening’s news) followed by the national news then trying to convince myself that I need to take my medicine and get ready for the day. All things I would do every day of every other month. Except the fact that it is November allows me to use them as excuses to–wait for it–procrastinate!!

The truth is I will take what I get out of NaNoWriMo. Any quantity of words, even in the form of an extremely rough draft, that I can add to my novel or use as the basis for the final novel in my trilogy is a bonus.

As a reminder, I am a pantser (I write without an outline though in this case I have about ten lines of an “outline” composed on Halloween evening). Today I spent hours with my husband at the hospital having his carpal tunnel syndrome evaluated. When we returned home, I started writing. The scene that developed is a medical emergency that sets up a hospital stay!

It’s possible that I am easily influenced by current events. My current events. Unfortunately, this scene is the second medical emergency/hospital stay of the book. And not part of the outline. But it is chronological. No islands when I’m participating in NaNoWriMo.

Can’t wait to find out where 50,000 words are going to take me…..that’s what I love about being a pantser.

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