It Runs in the Family

The Grandmother I inherited my green brooch and my red hair from also liked to write.

She didn’t have anything published, but she’d write little stories and poems (often about the day-to-day things that had happened to her, which she had a knack of making entertaining) which she’d read to her lady’s group – or to us, from time to time. I knew about the stories and poems (including one she wrote for me when I was born), but I didn’t know she’d also started writing a book, until last Saturday night.

That morning, I’d published my Morning Coffee post as usual, then I’d sat down to do some work on The Book. I managed to write just over 1,000 words before we had to leave for dinner with my parents, and while I wasn’t unhappy with them as such, the more I wrote, the more uneasy I started to feel. Why am I writing this, I kept asking myself? Who will want to read it? And, I mean, I know people have been very kind when I’ve mentioned The Book, and some of you have even gone so far as to say you’d totally buy a book all about ME, but I’ve been writing this book with the assumption that it will never be published – which made me wonder what the point was. Who cares about the stories of some woman in Scotland who isn’t even famous, after all?

That night after dinner, though, I was confiding these doubts to my long-suffering family, when my mum suddenly asked if she’d ever shown me my gran’s book: or what little she had of it, anyway. Now, I hadn’t even known my gran had been writing a book, let alone seen it, so my mum left the room for a few minutes, and came back with this:

gran's book

It’s only a couple of pages, and we’re not sure if she ever wrote any more of it, but I read it, then my mum read it, and we immediately agreed that although it was presented as “fiction”, this was really the story of my gran’s life: beginning with the birth of a little red-haired girl. It was her story – hers, and her parents… and, of course, later it would have become my mum’s, and my uncle’s, and, eventually, mine.

“If you’d read what I’ve written so far in my own book, you’d think I had made this up,” I said, as I handed the manuscript back to my mum. It just fit so perfectly. My gran had started to write her story, and now I’m writing mine: of which hers is a part. I don’t know if my gran ever asked herself who would read it, or who would care when she put pen to paper and started writing, but the fact is, I read it, and I care. And I think these stories matter, mundane as they may seem. They’re the reason for this blog, and this book: I still don’t know if anyone will ever read it, but I know I want to write it, and, for now, that’s good enough for me.

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COMMENTS
  • tanya

    REPLY

    I’ve got chills, just from reading this – wow! 🙂 I think, now you just have to finish this book of yours. Don’t ponder if anyone will care to read it. You aren’t famous, but you’re not exactly anonymous either. If the story is good, it will find it’s audience. Good luck!

    January 24, 2015
  • It would actually be interesting to have a story written by women from more generations of one family. Maybe you could think about this 😉

    January 24, 2015
  • Oh that’s so lovely! History repeating itself – although hopefully you’ll finish yours 🙂 I’m following in my family’s footsteps by having no intention of or skill for ever writing a book 😉

    January 24, 2015
  • Oh, that’s amazing!

    And you’re so right about family members wanting to read what you write. My family still has my gran’s diaries of youth hostelling around Scotland when she was young (and of meeting my grandfather, although those bits are written in some sort of shorthand nobody can read!) and it’s lovely to be able to (sort of) hear her voice.

    January 24, 2015
  • Tess

    REPLY

    Your blogs are the only ones I read, others I just browse through their photographs. I’m one happy reader here because you’ve posted frequently this week. So I’ll be reading The Book.

    January 24, 2015
  • Steph

    REPLY

    This post has really struck a chord with me this morning. I’ve always loved writing. My degree was in Journalism, I have three unfinished works of fiction on my laptop and have been dying to start a blog for the last few years, but the fact that so far I’ve refused to let anyone actually read my stuff has been somewhat an obstacle! I don’t know what it is, perhaps the fear that, while I feel it’s the only thing I’m actually good at, exposing my ‘talents’ might mean I discover I’m actually rubbish! I do hope to get over it one day, but for now I’m one of those irritating people who moans about not being able to be creative in my job but does nothing about it!

    January 24, 2015
  • TinaD

    REPLY

    I just finished a police procedural (DC Cullen book 1, I’ve forgotten the title), even though isn’t a great mystery, or even a terribly good procedural, because it is set in Edinburgh, and gives a street-level account (mostly not-fictive) and I like Edinburgh. One of my top 5 cities in the world, if it isn’t festival month. So yeah, there are bound to be readers for your book, readers who crave the details on aspects of the events of your life, your situation, or your setting the way I want to know there’s a chippie at the corner of this street ‘n that.

    January 24, 2015
  • Nellie

    REPLY

    Wow, I sure enjoy your writing. You are able to share a personal experience and inspire us to look at our lives a little differently. It’s easy to get over concerned with the approval of others, but it seems as if you have found a more meaningful motivation to continue working on your book. Good for you 🙂

    January 24, 2015
  • Irene

    REPLY

    I’d love to read your book. I don’t usually read blogs, I just look at the photos or skim through the text, but your writing is always so entertaining to me!

    January 24, 2015
  • Aunt fiona

    REPLY

    Of course you should write your book. I started mine in 2005, about my life growing up for Bonnie and Blair, and hopefully the grandchildren. The only part I have found difficult is getting info about my dads side. One uncle told me that ” we don’t talk about that” lol. I now have a cousin , and my last remaining aunt and uncle, filling in the gaps, which they didn’t want yo do before, go figure. You must send us copies of your grans, writing. We would love to see them. Xxx

    January 25, 2015
  • Erika

    REPLY

    Write because you want to, because you have to. Write because it needs to come out of your mind and find form on paper.

    If someone else reads it, enjoys it, that’s a bonus. If you get paid for it, even bigger bonus! But write because it means something to you. Else why do poets still exist?

    January 25, 2015
  • Amber,

    You’re writing for exactly the right reason. Sometimes when I worry who will read my stuff, or if an agent will ever pick up the book I’m querying now, or if I should bother with the second book I’m writing, I think of this:

    “Write for yourself. Write like everyone you know is dead. Then when you finish you can worry about who might like it.” ~Joe R. Lansdale

    January 30, 2015
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