I started studying the Second World War (from which I emerged) with very thin pickings in terms of family legends, and have become involved in the details, rather than the big picture...
I won't go into those details now (vegetarian ration books? Was my dad too old for call-up, or a conscientious objector who became a fireman in The Blitz? What was the work my mother was doing, welcoming refugees, entertaining in the underground bomb shelters, etc?)
I am also trying to avoid a particular shape that I have noticed in many autobiographies:
- Start with a high point, the part of the story people may have heard about, or want to hear about.
- Next, the chapter many readers may skip, the dry research of great-grandparents, etc, with few enlivening tales to brisk up the family tree and bits of social history
- Early days, leading to school and those future glimpses (little did he know...)
- Back up the tree, by luck or hard work, to the peak experience of the exciting opening chapter (which I have already told you about...)
- Life since that heady time
Apart from the obvious problem about how much you can say about still-living people, I still can't resolve how much should be about me, and a unique perspective, and how much about my generation, my country, and so on.
I may have to set myself some kind of target, a daily word minimum, which works so well when writing NaNoWriMo novels.
And then I get bored with my own anecdotes, and want to go back to that fiction I wrote last November...
And there's 300 words I will never see again!