Sunday, July 17, 2016

Field Notes: Returning To My "Why"

I started this blog as a way to document my family stories. To share my research and discoveries, my ancestors and their stories. I inherited a big box of research from my grandmother that I wanted to sort and document. Included in the box were old letters, photos, obituaries clipped from newspapers and my grandmother's own 'story'. I thought about the different approaches I could take. I ruled out the online family tree choices, I wanted more control and I wanted to tell a deeper story than trees allow. I pondered a family website but that didn't feel right either. I had blogged in the past and enjoyed the intimacy the platform allows. I did want an intimate connection. I was writing and researching people that had lived real lives, gone through real struggles and hardships. Experienced great joy and sorrow. Many left everything behind to answer the call of adventure, the possibilities of a better, more rewarding life. Others led quite lives, leaving nary a trace, never imagining their normal, day-to-day living would one day be thought upon as anything more than ordinary.

These people were calling to me. To be heard. To be found. To be remembered.

Soon, the glamorous world of genealogy blogging had pulled me away from my original intention. I was following the blogs of some of the big names in the field. I was reading what other's were writing. I joined groups, chat rooms, societies. I followed these darlings of genealogy on social media, subscribed to newsletters, got on everyone's email list. My mornings lapsed into afternoons as I struggled to keep up with the influx of information.

And, as you might imagine, I quit writing. I began to question my "silly little blog" and wondered if it mattered. I wasn't sharing tips, how-to's, 5 step plans or ebooks. And {gasp} I wasn't making money!! Apparently monetizing your blog was what you needed to do! Otherwise, why bother? (My husband would tend to agree with this school of thought.)

I spiraled into Loserville.

I kept myself busy sharing other people's blog posts on my Facebook page. I learned about affiliate marketing. I watched a ton of webinars. I started an email list, worked on some logos, pondered my brand. But I didn't write.

I began to observe that some of the notables I was following, by blog or by email, seemed to be just posting to post. How many times a day do I need to be informed about the newest records on Ancestry? Or My Heritage, or FindMyPast? I already get email updates from the "horse's mouth". It seemed any news, big or otherwise, in the genealogy community was picked up and blogged about. The latest DNA deal? Everybody was blogging about it! FamilySearch to be upgraded and offline for 24 hours? Wildfire.

I started to see the light. And, began to unsubscribe.

I knew I did not want to blog, just to have 'something out there'. Yes, I wanted a big following. (Don't we all want to be loved?) I wanted subscribers and comments on my posts, I eventually wanted to figure out how to earn a living doing this which I love to my core.

I love to research and I love to write. Yet, I was doing neither.

I was frustrated, a little angry, lost and uninspired. Ruminating on what direction I wanted to take, an email appeared that became the catalyst for my return to my 'why'. The author of the email is a blogger I admire. She had been going through a very similar experience. She was frustrated, burned out, and losing sight of her 'why'. As I read her declaration I wept. It resonated so deeply with how I was feeling, it was almost as if she were writing to me, personally.

In that moment I remembered my direction. My course had been corrected. My 'why' once again in sight.  

In the coming weeks I plan to introduce some new themes. I will be focusing on my ancestor's stories, my grandmother's letters and the photograph collection I have inherited. I will wrap up Finding Faulkner, explore my Mayflower and my Tidewater Virginia families. I will continue to document the 1880 Fraser family tree that hangs in my hallway. There are a great many stories that still need to be told, and once again I feel the call to write them.

As for the email list and the affiliate marketing, I'm still pondering the purpose and necessity of sending seperate email. If you'd like to receive the occasional email from me, please let me know in the comments. I will keep some affiliate links on the blog - if I can make a little money it will aid mightily in maintaining marital harmony. (Just keeping it real!)

Thanks for joining me on this grand adventure. I appreciate each and every one of you!


"Genealogy - the greatest hobby on Earth!"

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved


  1. Yes. This is what I am trying not to fall into. Thank you for giving me the courage to stick to my original intent and proceed at my own pace, even if very few ever decide to read my blog. I will remain happy and balanced in remembering, sharing, and preserving the stories of my ancestors. I needed to read this today!


    1. Melissa, I am so happy this resonated with you! I feel so much better after my decision to be true to myself. I think people will find and read our blogs - the right people! Thanks for the comment, it means a lot to me. ~Anne