By Nichole Giles
Are you looking for a good story idea? Do you have the urge to write, but find yourself unable to decide what to write about? I recently found a pool of ideas, fiction and nonfiction, long stories and short, detailed and vague, floating around in strange places. I am talking about my family’s secrets.
Family history could sound like such a boring topic to me. Yes, these people are my ancestors, and need to be recognized, but do I really care how many wives my great-great-great-uncle Clyde had? Of course, I do. But I never used to. When I was a kid, I couldn’t have cared less. I saw my ancestors as people who were dead, gone, and six feet underground. So what if my brother was named after my great-great-grandmother’s dead brother who drowned in a river behind their log cabin? Really.
When I was young, if someone had told me that I was related to someone famous, someone who did something cool, like Jesse James, or Billy the Kid, that might have interested me. And if someone told me an amazing story about a man who was kidnapped on his way to work one winter morning, I might have listened. When they got to the part about a knife being held to his neck, I’d have kept listening. Then when they told me he was driven across two states, tied up, gagged, and left in the middle of the desert to die, I’d have been absolutely enthralled, wondering, “Boy, I sure hope he figures out how to escape from that mess.”
“That guy is cool,” I’d have thought.
Then I would have wanted to know more about him. No one can resist a compelling real-life story and I was no exception. If I’d known the story I was being told was for real, I’d have considered that pretty neat stuff. I would have thought it even better that I was related to such a brave person, and probably wished there was a movie about him, or at least a book.
Since I’m not a kid anymore, I’ve taken more of an interest in the stories of my ancestors. Okay, so maybe they’re not really family secrets, but they are hidden stories waiting to be told. And there are so many incredible things I never knew actually happened. For instance, did you know that in the sixties they didn’t have things like cordless phones and microwaves? How did people survive before computers and the Internet? And no home had more than one TV, which was okay, since there were only four channels.
Maybe if I write stories from the past, my own kids will want to read them and pass them on to their kids, who’ll pass them on to their kids, and so forth and so on. Who knows, maybe someday there will be a movie about that guy in the desert.