Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My daughter, Ellen, is intrigued with our family's history. She thinks it's pretty cool that her grandpa Converse traces his ancestry to 1630 and the Arbella, which sailed from England to establish the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

She sits at the kitchen table, a grandmother on each side, and sifts through a pile of scrapbooks, photographs, and newspaper clippings. She wants to draw a family tree, and the three of them have spent the morning looking up names and dates. Each grandmother has shared tales about her own grandparents and great-grandparents and the immigration stories that have been passed down. Ellen's responses alternate between surprise and incredulity.

I've heard most of the stories, yet the longer I listen, the stronger my connection to the immigrants becomes. I sense the same feelings emerging in Ellen as she peppers her grandmas with questions. By the end of the day, she's penciled a five-generation family tree and has told stories about each of its branches to anyone who would listen.

Journal Entry: How many branches can you draw on your family tree? Choose one story about one ancestor and write what you know. Make a list of questions the story raises.

Then, for inspiration, read two of Literary Mama's recent author profiles. Both highlight a writer whose memoir originated in the exploration of her family ancestry (Jennifer Rosner, Bonnie J. Rough).

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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