By unknown photographer (ebay)
via Wikimedia Commons
You see, my topics for the 2012 A-to-Z Challenge and the 2013 A-to-Z were The Wild West and History's Mysteries, respectively. Several of my posts during those challenges caught the eyes of people who knew more about the topics than I did. One was a post about the mystery behind Natalie Wood's death. I heard from someone who had written a book about her death, and had worked with the captain of the ship they'd been on when she died. The post that drew the most attention, though, had to do with the outlaw Clay Allison. Oddly, he's someone I find few people have heard of, yet the tales of his outlaw days cause Billy the Kid to pale in comparison. I find him fascinating, and I had a lot of fun writing the post about him.
Bearing in mind, of course, that this was during the A-to-Z, so research time wasn't what it might have been for a regular once per week post, I spent a few hours reading up on Clay Allison. There were some fantastic tales about his escapades, but what got skirted over in the information I found was the reasons behind what he'd done and how he'd become an outlaw. And a good percentage of the information out there was likely false, stuff made up in the publications of the day.
Photo of Clay Allison courtesy of Find a Grave member John "J-Cat" Griffith
I was in it for fun, though, and posted the various tales and information. I hope that there were folks who did research on their own after reading about him, those whose interest was piqued by hearing his tales. But at the same time, I perpetuated the myths that were out there, too. And a few of his descendants contacted me in the blog comments. They were nice guys, no flaming or accusations, and they thanked me for bringing him back into people's awareness. But their comments reminded me that I was posting about real people, people who had family or acquaintances who were still around. Yes, I'm sure they're accustomed to reading the stuff that's out there, and I even got a book recommendation out of it so I can get more information on a subject that interests me. And I'm not going to lie. I'm enough of a wild west buff that I geeked out internally about being contacted by his descendants. But a subject I enjoyed reading and writing about was personal history to them, not just a story.
So my reminder to you is the same as the reminder to me: When you're posting away, thinking this is just a blog, not a newspaper or novel, remember that there's always someone out there for whom the subject could be personal.
Have you been contacted by someone with personal ties to a subject you've blogged about? How did it go? Are you aware of Clay Allison? Who do you think was responsible for Natalie Wood's death?
May you find your Muse.