Please allow a brief explanation of my lengthy absence. As you may know if you follow the blog regularly, in November I was hospitalized with a bowel obstruction for around 6 days or so. In January, I was set to start my new gig as a temporary full time history professor. I did the new hire orientation and in-service week with no problems, but then the Sunday night before the semester started, my obstruction returned with a vengeance. I had an emergency surgery and spent 19 days in the hospital. I got out and had to get caught up on a missed 2 1/2 weeks of class all while still recovering from my surgery. I have a nice six inch incision in my abdomen (which I will spare you pictures of). I had just started to feel myself again when on March 2nd, my anniversary no less, the obstruction came back again! That day just happened to be my tenth anniversary. My wife and I spent it in the E.R. I need another, much bigger operation now, but the doctor says I can try and wait to have it when the semester ends. Here’s hoping my small intestine cooperates.
Now on to today’s subject. As you know, I finished my novel So Others May Live in November. I set it aside for several months. Now is the time to sally forth to do battle with the written word. I’m going through the revisions process, after which it will go to some beta readers. After I incorporate their feedback, it will be time for a professional editor to take a crack at it. I wouldn’t say it’s a great book, but I do think it is, or at least has the potential to be, a good one. It’s sort of like I say that I am not a historian, I’m just a halfway decent storyteller.
In a previous post, I discussed sources I found particularly useful while doing the research. As part of my revisions, I’m chasing down some information that I need to nail down, things I didn’t stop to look up while I was involved in writing. These are all questions that came up once I began to write. What you see in the above photo is around 1/4 of the print sources I consulted during the research process. It does not include official documents, maps, navigational charts, notes from two dozen interviews, photographs consulted, documentaries watched, and, for fun, period movies and music. I go full on immerse when writing historical fiction. When writing about World War 2, I only watch wartime era movies and listen to wartime era music while working in my bedroom which is decorated something like a squadron ready room (complete with the famous Betty Grable pinup photo).
How much research is too much? I don’t quite know how to answer that. You have to do enough to get it right. I owe it to those who lived through the events I describe to get things as close to accurate as I possibly can, for all its beauty and horror. At my writing station, I have the following excerpt from the Randall Jarrell poem Losses taped to my desk as a reminder of the importance of doing right by those who died.
In our bombers named for girls, we burned the cities we had learned about in school
Till our lives we out and our bodies lay among those we had killed but never seen
When we lasted long enough, they gave us medals. When we died, they said “Our casualties were low.”
After much consideration, I have decided to dedicate my book in the following way:
This book is dedicated to all those who seek humanity in the midst of inhumanity; and to the men and women of the fire services of the world who still give their all So Others May Live.