The Sixty Year Promise
Today, I am announcing – SPREADING WING'S – My Best Family Story Contest - . Here's why -
When I first started writing, about four years ago, here was my goal. I wanted to find out as much as I could about my ancestors. Not just names on a genealogy sheet, not just their picture. I wanted to know how they lived, the ups and downs of their lives, who they loved, and yes, also, who they disliked. I wanted to turn them into flesh and blood people, so that my offspring, and later generations, could feel like they actually knew them. A few stories, or the start of one, sometimes came through on genealogy sheets from researchers from generations past. Like, “Grandpa Tucker (my grandmother's father) and his family hung a man one morning, down in front of his house.” or “Great great grandma had a little brother who was eaten by a wild hog.” or how about this – my great uncle, Harry, “faced down a thirty man posse who came to arrest him in downtown Dover with the words, “I will give up my guns with my life, and make the man who takes it pay a heavy price. The posse finally turned around and left. Without Harry.” What!? How could anyone just let a story like that lie, without giving any details? Well, maybe the old time researchers could not find out any more, with the resources available to them at the time. But in this day and age, especially with great historical societies like the one in Pope County, Arkansas, I was able to dig up the whole stories, and tell them in SPREADING WING.
Now, most of the stories I was able to unearth and record were not that dramatic. Most were just sweet little stories, but they still told me much about those people. The oldest people in one's family are always the best sources, if their long term memory is still somewhat intact. Many older people may not remember what they did yesterday, but the long term memory is good. All one need do is ask, and sit and listen. They love that. I was born the youngest of a generation, by several years, so almost all the old Gillums were long gone well before I started my project, at sixty five. Actually, all of my dad and mom's generation. I never met any of my grandparents. After all my research on my grandparents, I felt like, for the first time, that I actually knew them. I cried.
So, if I could do it, you can too. But start early. When the old folks die, their stories often die with them. I also told all I could remember about my generation, and my children and grandchildren love it.
My first book was titled “THE GILLUM'S WERE NOT LIKE OTHER PEOPLE.” (All right, I've just got to take out right here and explain to you that title. My brother Harold worried about that title a lot. Thought I was saying, “The Gillum's are better than other people.” When someone asked him about that, he often said, “If you would just read the book, you would see that's not always the case!” Actually, I was talking with JR Turner, a Wing icon who was around one hundred years old, and, since he knew all the Gillum's, I asked, “What did you think of the old Gillums?” Well, I knew that was a hard question for JR, since most of the old Gillums were pretty stern men, who seldom smiled. JR thought for a long time. He obviously didn't want to hurt my feelings. Finally, he just said, “Well, the Gillum's were not like other people.” then added, as an apologetic afterthought, “They were very solid.” which was true. Solid like a rock. I knew right off, JR had just named my book.) Anyway, getting back to my story. My son Corey had several hard copies of my first book printed, gave them to me. He called that volume one. He also established the “sixty year promise.” He vowed to write volume two, starting on birthday sixty. His oldest child, Caylie, an old soul at fourteen, vowed to write volume three starting on birthday sixty. Thus publishing an ever increasing volume of past writings. So that, as Corey stated, “Many generations from now, when all of us have left this earth, I hope a young Gillum will read these first hand accounts of who we were, and how we lived. Through this, maybe he or she will truly know those who went before them, and learn something about themselves, as I have from Dad's book.”
So, anyone can be a writer. In today's world, anyone can publish a book. I challenge you to start writing volume one of your family's “SIXTY YEAR PROMISE.” There is no better way to honor the old people in your family that to record their stories, before they are lost forever. We are all going to die, but who we were and what we did can live on and on, if you just take the time, and love them enough, to write down their stories and preserve them. Your offspring will be so happy you did.
So, you're going to do it? Good. Now let's get down to the nuts and bolts. Who wants to read and preserve a boring book? Not much anybody, that's who. Your stories have to be INTERESTING, and when appropriate, HUMOROUS. I try my best to keep those two thoughts at the forefront of all my writings. Sometimes, to do that, I have to ruffle a feather or two. But if you stay HUMBLE, and make fun of yourself more than you do anyone else, most people will accept that. If people of your generation don't like to read it, later generations will just throw it away. Nobody likes to read one's writings if the writer brags on one's self too much. SELF DEPRECIATION is a wonderful tool. Now at this point, I have to tell you, I'm not a trained writer. I'm not trying to set myself up as a writing expert here. I'm only telling you what seems to work for me. You have to write using your own thoughts. With all this in mind, I am announcing -
Forever a Hillbilly's First Annual – MY BEST FAMILY STORY CONTEST
- Write your best true family story in English. Up to 1400 words. If possible, typed, single spaced. Send it to me, copied and pasted onto the body of your e-mail. (No attachments, please. I can't always open those.) E-mail to foreverahillbilly.blogspot.com
- If number one is not possible for any reason, I don't like to exclude people. Print it clearly and mail it to me at 1030 Evergreen, Arkadelphia, Ar. USA 71923.
- Please include a short bio about yourself, up to forty words.
- Contest ends June 15, 2013. All those judged “Totally wonderful” by our official judging panel, Barbara and I, will be posted on foreverahillbilly.blogspot.com, along with your credit and bio. Forever a Hillbilly is currently read by readers in fifty six countries.
- The overall winner, as judged by the same distinguished panel of two judges, will be awarded the grand prize, which is: A. If you live in the USA, a signed and personalized edition of SPREADING WING.
- B. If you live outside the USA, I will send you an amount equal to the current price of SPREADING WING on amazon.com or Amazon Europe, along with a letter from Barbara and I bragging about what a good writer you are and stuff like that. I'm very interested in hearing from my writers from other countries. I'm sure reading and comparing your life stories to mine would be very interesting.So, get to work, and send your best family story to me!