Can I write a book?

Empty Book

Where to Start…

I never set out to write a book, in fact nothing could have been further from my mind.  My interest was in discovering my family history … the project just sort of grew.

Was it true the family had once been wealthy?

It all started from anecdotes that some of my ancestors had been very wealthy. We heard that as a result of an untimely death and re-marriage the money had passed out of the family, never to be seen again. Many years later, when my grandfather was a young boy, the story was brought into focus when his family were evicted from their home because they couldn’t pay the rent. He never forgot the humiliation of being turned onto the streets but what made it worse was the belief that there was a young woman walking around with money that should have been theirs.

I had an elderly aunt, my grandad’s sister-in-law, who was also interested in the family history.  She had been a librarian and managed to find out some useful bits of information, but with no way of being able to search parish records and with no knowledge of the internet, her search had long since stalled.  She shared with me what she could but in truth I was armed with very little when I headed to Ancestry.co.uk.

Starting with the basics

My research effectively began as a name collecting exercise. Using census data I managed to get back to about 1800, which I thought was pretty good.  I even found information explaining a few previously puzzling facts, and it was really quite exciting.  Full of enthusiasm I started to order birth, death and marriage certificates for key family members (it’s gets a bit expensive if you’re not careful), and this was where the story really started to develop.  It was one evening when I was opening the post that I had my first OMG moment.  It was a death certificate and the details of the death were quite unexpected, and to me, quite shocking (in case I do ever get the book published I won’t spoil the plot!).  This one piece of information took me down a path I never expected and the story gradually started to materialise.

At this stage it still never occurred to me that this was a story worth telling. Over subsequent months, however, as I unearthed more information, my sub-conscious started to tell me that this would make a good book.  My immediate reaction was “I can’t write a book”, and I meant it.  All my writing experience to date had been factual medical style writing and I didn’t think I had a creative thought in my head.  As time went on, however, the voice in my head got louder and more persistent.  Gradually my thoughts moved to “I couldn’t write a book” to “What if I wrote it and it was no good?” Eventually I settled on “Let’s give it a try. If it’s no good nobody has to see it.”

The art of procrastination

Dipping my toe in the water, I decided to write a plan, just to get me started. Then, as the story developed, I moved on to biographies for the main characters.  That was quite fun – there was nothing too challenging or creative about it and it was all fact based – my comfort zone!  What made it even better was that it delayed what was by now inevitable – the start of the book. Eventually, I could put it off no longer and at the beginning of 2011, I started to write…

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About Val McBeath

Born and raised in Liverpool (UK), I live in Cheshire with husband, youngest daughter, and cat. In addition to family history, interests include rock music and Liverpool Football Club. Prior to writing, I trained as a scientist and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years. In 2012, I set up my own consultancy business and now split my time between business and writing.
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10 Responses to Can I write a book?

  1. Pingback: Why Writing the Last Chapter is the Most Difficult | From Story To Book

  2. Me, too! I love how clearly you described what my experience has been like! #familyhistory #seekinglydia Chuvelle.com

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  3. Val McBeath says:

    Thanks Christina. It’s been a hard slog but it has been so worth it. I’m hoping the 1st book will be published early next year. I’ve no idea whether it will be a success, but either way, I’m so glad I did it. Just turning it into a book forces you to look at things you might have previously skimmed over and I have learned so much about our family that I would otherwise have missed. Good luck with your book 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Twelve Things to do Prior to Launching a Book | From Story To Book

  5. Pingback: I Can Write a Book! | From Story To Book

  6. kjw616 says:

    I just discovered your blog, and your first line sounds like a line I wrote: “I never set out to write a book. It just happened by accident.” I am looking forward to reading about your journey.”

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    • Val McBeath says:

      Welcome! I’ve come a long way since I wrote my first post and can’t quite believe I am now a published author. It’s been an amazing journey but still got a long way to go. I hope you enjoy the posts 😊

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  7. rosesscott says:

    Val, I didn’t realise you were from Liverpool. My English (Irish, Scottish) grandmother was from Liverpool and emigrated to Canada in 1930. Her story also fascinates me and someday I hope to write it. Of course it might require a trip across the big pond!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Val McBeath says:

      Hi.
      Liverpool is a wonderful City. They have spent a lot of money on it over the last 10 years or so. Your ancestors would hardly recognise it. They still have some of the docks, which is what gave the city its prosperity, but they are now up market apartments and shops.
      It’s well worth a visit if you ever get chance. My series charts the events that brought the family to Liverpool. It had always puzzled me why our one branch of the family was there when the rest were in Birmingham. Now I know!!
      I hope things are well with you. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Walk a Mile in their Shoes | From Story To Book

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