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:
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.