Story Projects Update

Volume 7 coverI know that posts have been sparse for the last several months. I’ve tried to focus on histories for my Mom with varying degrees of success. But I’m happy to report the next volume of our family history “Our Two Grandsons” is finished and distributed to family members. It covered September 1997 to December of 2001. This is the 7th volume in the history of my parents since they met and married in 1956. Based mostly on notes in my Mom’s planners with a few letters to her sisters, it isn’t a great read but the photos are fun and it does a good job of documenting my parents lives and important family miles stones. Yeah for getting it done. I gave it to my Mom on Mother’s Day and she was very happy.

Now I’m focusing on a project for my Dad. He spent 20 years in the Navy and really wants to do a history about it. I’ve worked on it here and there over the last few years in fits and starts. It will need to be a multi-volume history to cover everything. I talked with him for a couple of hours last week about what he wants to accomplish and why it is important too him. He shared several stories that I’ve never heard. I’m excited about this history but intimidated by what needs to be done in writing. While my Mom is super happy with just a factual documentation of her life, my Dad needs and wants something more. In order to do this I’m going to have to really learn how to tell his story. I’ve not done this before. We are focusing first on the years he was an instructor at the Navy’s Underwater Swimmers School in Key West, Florida. My Dad is going to a UWSS reunion next May and wants to take a copy with him.

So here is my plan. I signed up for the Armchair Genealogist‘s family history writing challenge in February. But between RootsTech and taking Dune to Oregon, I decided that it wasn’t the right time. Now I’m going to do it on my own. I saved all the emails and I’ve downloaded her The Companion Guide to The Family History Writing Challenge”. I’m committing to spending at least an hour each weekday to writing the narrative to the Key West volume. There are so many decision yet to be made to how to handle this project but I think that following the steps of Lynn’s challenge will give me a chance at tackling this project.

I think an important part of my commitment to this challenge is to share with you each day the progress I’ve made in first planning and then actually writing. I’m hoping to have the planning and research done by June 1st. Hopefully you won’t get sick of seeing my humble efforts but I think it will help me follow through with this challenge. Today I spent an hour reading “The Companion Guide” and completed the first two chapters and worked on filling out “The Vision Worksheet”.

I’ll check back in tomorrow and tell you how it is going. Wish me luck! I think I’m going to need it.


Zodiac Time-lapse Project

Back in May of 2012 I wrote a post about a cool time-lapse project. It inspired me to try my own time-lapse project with Zodiac. I did pretty good at getting a video clip of Zodiac most weeks while he was growing up. I didn’t get a chance to work on it before he left and it was on the back burner all summer until we got the news he was doing in-home training. That pushed it to the urgent category on my to do list.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

click on photo to link to video


I’ve never done any video editing so I had lots to learn. I first tried to use the slide show software that I have but that couldn’t handle the project at all. I have a very old version of Adobe Premiere Pro so I installed that I started reading the manual. Premiere Pro was surprisingly intuitive and most of the basics was pretty easy to figure out. I didn’t try to get fancy with anything but it came out pretty good considering my lack of experience, the quality of the video (just shot with my basic digital camera) and the not so good lighting or set up I had.

I didn’t try to do this for Dune (which I’m kind of sad about) but I want to do something for Pup “E” coming next Friday. I’m just not sure how I want to do it. I don’t want to do it the same way. While I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, it isn’t really what I was hoping for. I want a way to capture how the puppies grow and change over the year that we have them. I’ve got seven days to come up with a plan. Anybody have any suggestions?

step six: evaluate with the DOABLE Approach to Telling Your Family’s Tales

Step Six: Evaluate

Once your story project is complete it is good to look at how things went. What turned out well, what not so good. What would you do differently next time. Here are some questions that might help you evaluate your story project:

  • What was your favorite part of doing the project?
  • What part are you proudest of?
  • What kind of reactions have you had when you shared it with others?
  • What age groups responded best? Was that the age group you were hoping to reach?
  • What part of the project was the most challenging?
  • What part do you wish you could do over?
  • Did you do what you hoped to with this project?
  • Are you glad you did this project?
  • What did you learn from doing this project?
  • Have you thought of other story projects that would naturally spin-off from this one?
  • If you were starting this project with what you know now, what would you do differently?
  • What was your most successful way of sharing your project?
  • Did any of your sharing efforts fail?

Do you have someone who you can trust to be honest and yet supportive to give you feedback on your project? If so ask them to help you evaluate your results. I hope that you have enjoyed your story project and the journey that you have now completed. I hope that you are excited to do another story project. If so, armed with this knowledge you are ready to go back to step one and pick a new family story project.

I’d love to hear about your story projects. Let me know about it and you might just get featured on a future Telling Family Tales post.