Post written and copyrighted by Doris McCraw
How do you fill in the blanks when you don’t have all the information? Do you make something up? Perhaps you make an educated guess. You may even spend countless hours trying to find the answer. Whichever one you choose is the correct one for your project?
Let’s take a look at how you might answer. If you are a fiction writer, it makes perfect sense to make something up. It is your story, so of course you put in what you think works. Then of course there is the historic fiction writer, the horror writer and so on. There are certain rules to what is and is not true in your universe and your readers will let you know if it is wrong.
If you are writing a memoir or creative non-fiction you may make an educated guess. That may or may not get you into trouble. You might also opt to research and find the best solution to your unknown. Do you tell the truth as you know it, or the truth of those involved in the story? It is not always a comfortable choice.
If you are writing non-fiction it can be tricky. You can make an educated guess or you can research until you find an answer. Either way you could be called on your decision.
As I continue my journey with these early women doctors I come upon more and more blanks that have possible explanations. The fact that between 1880 and 1890 women are not listed in the professional section of the city directory, but you can find them individually in the regular listings. There also was no real growth in the number between those years. Why? At this point I would need to make that ‘educated’ guess.
Why were three of the four early women doctors in the region graduates of the same medical school? (At least according the sparse records I have found.) Did someone from this region go back there and recruit them or did one arrive first and tell the other two about the region and the opportunities available? I may never know the answers unless someone from the families has letters or knowledge of the facts.
Finally, why are the women physicians left out of the histories, the newspapers and other writings of the day? These questions plague and fascinate me. It is what drives my desire to bring these women to life for the present and future generations. I may never be able to fill in all the blanks, but I will give it one hell of a try.
How do you fill in your blanks? I would love to know.
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Below is the link to my non-fiction piece on the first state film commissioner in the United States included in this book.
“Film & Photography on the Front Range” can be purchased online at: http://www.amazon.com