The Curiousity of Research: Now You Know

I received an email from my editor on Remembrance day. Attached was the next section of manuscript edits. It felt right getting the edits on the day of days to remember. Sometimes it seems the boys keep pushing me on to finish.

For now the painting will go on hold so I can get this third section sorted. I think I am about half way through now. It is a hard section to edit though. I expect more than a few eyes would glaze over with the amount of information, so it it is time to painfully take out bits and pieces and smooth it out a little.

One thing that I have found curious in this whole process is the change from knowing little to knowing loads and how it has changed me forever. My editor often notes words that I need to add to my glossary or define within the text. In the beginning, I didn’t know many of the terms myself, but after so much research it seems odd now to think people don’t know what these words mean.

For example, if you were reading a book discussing the air force during WWII, would you know what was meant by dropping “window”? It is likely in the beginning of my research I didn’t know exactly what “window” was, but somehow my research has become so ingrained, it is like I have always known. It has become a part of my common vocabulary, a part of me. I actually struggle with the fact that others do not know what it means. It is curious to realise I have been assimilated…kind of like the Borg. That’s a bit scary really.

Anyway, for those of you now curious to know about “window”, this is what it looks like. Yes, that unassuming silvery foil stuff there that looks like stiff Christmas tinsel. By the way, this particular bit was dropped in Hilsenheim, France some time in 1944 or 1945.

For the more curious of you, here is a closer look.

Window was bundled strips of foil cut to the same wavelength as enemy radar. It was dropped from planes. The Axis relied on radar, with its electronic echoes, to locate the incoming bomber stream (hundreds of planes fully loaded with bombs and incendiaries headed for a target) and give warning and location details to Axis fighters to find them. Window created confusing, false electronic echoes, making it seem as though bombers were in one place when they were somewhere else instead.

So, now you know!

Now, I have to go edit!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

Everyday life here is not exactly hectic like it is in a city.  Life on a daily basis, before self imposed work, pretty much revolves around walking the dog, seeing wallabies and birds, and then making the other half’s lunch and breakfast all before 7a.m.  Soon I’ll be able to add a swim to the morning lineup.

The rest of the day currently follows a typical agenda. I check my email accounts and blog before making a cup of tea, then I plunk myself in front of my lap top at the kitchen table to go through the most recent edits sent by my editor.  That’s when the real work begins.

Usually I ask myself, “What possessed me to write in the first place?”  The edits may not be in red but they are every bit as daunting staring back at me from the screen, especially at the moment when I am working on the first chapters of the book and have such a long way to go.  However, then I remember…this piece of work is the most important thing I will ever achieve in my life.

It isn’t like I haven’t achieved other things.  As an adult I suppose one of my greatest achievements was completing three university degrees (two of them honour degrees).  I paid for my education, on my own.  I can still recall paying off that hefty student loan, that was a happy moment.  I’ve also lived and worked in three different countries.  I have done loads of other things too, but none of that is as important as what I have yet to achieve, and to be honest, I hardly think of what I have already done in my everyday life.

My everyday life revolves around what matters now.

Until my manuscript becomes a fully fledged book, I haven’t achieved my job, my duty, my purpose for existing.  My everyday life is all about reaching my future goal. Everyday I have to tell myself I’m one step closer, one page farther, one more chapter along in the process of editing.

As I edit, I find myself thanking God for my editor.  I have over researched and over detailed my work knowing full well I would be forced to cull it back.  In other places I have left things out which need to be added. I already know what needs editing but I get caught up in the information and without some guidance my heart won’t let go of those little details, so important to me but not so important to the general reader.  That is what happens when you love the people you write about, when they become your world, are part of who you are, and have played a part in the last 3 years of your life.

Anyway, since the manuscript is an immense part of my everyday life, I thought I would take a photograph of what a writer looks like working on edits sent from an editor. It isn’t glamorous and it doesn’t end at 5p.m.

The Last Few Weeks

For the past while I have been pretty busy.  I have been lucky to find time to post a photo now and again.

As a few of you know, I have been sorting my manuscript to be sent to editor.

It finally went last week and so far I have had positive feedback regarding the story as a whole.

Of course I’m sure there will be many things to do once the full line by line edit is under way but I’m taking these last few days of peace and quiet to try to regroup and build myself up for serious edit mode.

I still feel like I have a long road ahead to get the manuscript to a 3D book but I’m happy, so far, just knowing it is moving ahead and the editor is enjoying the read.  With three years of research and writing behind me, I’m hoping I’m over the mountain and on my way down the other side, even if it is long and winding.

One more step forward for the boys!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

I am very busy this week so I am only getting around to this now.  I will explain more next week.

 In the mean time this is my recent read.

 I had the honour to meet the author on the weekend and got the book signed so it was a super day and the book was a great read!

A good fit for the weekly challenge as he quotes at the end…

“For your tomorrow

They gave their today”

It’s a Privilege, Sir: Remembering on Remembrance Day

I have had the privilege to interview a few war veterans for my own research as well as for my volunteer work doing Oral History interviews for my local museum. I’m often surprised at how veterans can look back at war and still find humour and brightness amongst the dark. Perhaps it is the resilience of youth that got them through the rough times. Whatever the case, I have found each and every one of them inspiring men. It is not necessarily what they have done in war but their strength of character to carry on that intrigues me and captures my heart.

The men of EQ-P, whom I remember today, were not so lucky as to have survived the war but they too have captured my heart. Up until a couple of years ago I did not really know them. I only knew one by name, he being my cousin, the others were not even a name. They were unknown entities. I knew them as nothing more than six other men my relative served with and that is all. Today that is no longer the case. Each one is a person I can fondly remember.

In a time when few of us now remember the fallen through first hand knowledge it is more important than ever to do more than the obligatory respectful one or two minutes silence for those who died for our freedom. Why? It is hard to feel the emotional impact of each life lost if we do not know those we are standing silent for. A name does not mean much without putting something more substantial behind it. Let them not be just a name. Let the silence mean something more than just being respectful.

This year and in all my years to come, I will remember the boys of EQ-P. May they live once again through my research. 

Another year not forgotten. 

Another year remembered with love.

 

In Memory of the Boys of EQ-P of 408 ‘Goose’ Squadron

The boys of Lancaster Mk II LL637 EQ-P died on the night of March 15 1944, on an operation to Stuttgart, Germany. They are buried in Hilsenheim Communal Cemetery in Hilsenheim, France.

Norman Andrew Lumgair (Norm) was a Farm Lad from Manitoba, Canada. With nerves of steel he became the Pilot of the crew. Known for dressing up with a bow tie, even as a school boy, he loved to impress the girls. He died on his sixth Op at the age of 21.

 Douglas Cruickshank (Jock) was a RAF serviceman from Yorkshire, United Kingdom. He entered the RAF before the outbreak of war. After serving his country in South Africa he later returned to the UK to become a Flight Engineer. He died on his fifth Op at the age of 22.

 William Taylor (Bill) was a Farm Lad from Saskatchewan, Canada. Even before he left school he wanted to serve his country. Although he wished to be a pilot he was to become the Bomb Aimer of the crew. He died on his fifth Op at the age of 23.

 George Parker was a Teacher and Coal Truck Driver from Alberta, Canada. With his educational background he became the Navigator. A loving husband, he wrote his wife everyday he was overseas. He died on his fifth Op at the age of 28. He left behind his wife and two young children.

 William Lawrence Doran (Larry) was a Mucking Machine Operator from British Columbia, Canada. As a Wireless Operator he was the link to the outside world. He had a strong interest in Journalism and was well thought of within his local community. He died on his fifth Op at the age of 29. He left behind his wife.

 Robert Henry Hudson (Bob) worked for a surfacing company in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. He was always the boy with a smile on his face. As the Mid Upper Gunner he had a cold job. He died on his fifth Op at age 19.

 Robert George Alfred Burt (Bud) was a Machine Operator in a Shoe Factory in Ontario, Canada. As the Tail Gunner of the crew he had the coldest and most isolated position. He is fondly remembered as the teasing older brother. He died on his first Op at age 19.

They served together, they died together but they are remembered forever in our hearts.

 

The following poem was written by William Taylor’s sister.

The following are a few links to Remembrance Day videos on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq5hFrb7b_E

Bryan Adams – Remembrance Day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kX_3y3u5Uo

Terry Kelly – A Pittance of Time

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hidden

It seems this week things have come to a head. Everywhere I turn I’m confronted with a screaming reality that I can no longer ignore. This morning I looked up the weekly photo challenge, ‘Hidden’ and realised what was really hidden had nothing to do with a photo challenge. It did however, have everything to do with me. The difference? Fear.

In this blog I’ve toyed, hinted or alluded to writing a book. Not a novel, not a feel good book but a sad, gritty and emotional juxtaposed true story of the past and present. It is the story of a WWII bomber crew, my journey of researching their lives and sadly their deaths as well as what I have come to realise by learning about these men.

I have the “Courage 2 Create” as Ollin’s blog sparks many to do but I do not have the courage to believe in myself. I do not have the courage to believe that my book writing will have the power to do what I feel it must do, pull at the heart-strings of the reader with its simple honesty and by doing so keep the boys, and all like them, alive in memory. Can the book possibly do for others what writing it has done for me? Will it have the power to create a love for someone you never knew?

Today is my first step, a step of courage in saying out loud that I am afraid of not succeeding in doing my duty to the crew. I fear letting down their families. I fear that my efforts will not be enough to make the boys live again if only in a book. I fear that you will not love them as I love them.

My motto: May Courage Overcome Fear.

My photo: Rain.  In everything and in everyone there is something hidden.  Rain is what we see but its elements are two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and yet they are hidden in a way.  Without them we would not be here.

Calling on Non Fiction Writers and Cheerleaders

For the past month I have had family staying from over seas. In the course of that time I have written nothing but I have taken many photos and just enjoyed the writing free zone of my home. Today I am trying to reacquaint myself with the keyboard. Yesterday was a complete flop. I was tired, flitting about from empty room to empty room like a mother bird who had lost her grown chicks and I had no incentive to pick up where I had left off a month ago. My writing kick had feathered off to a far off land and left me behind.

Writing from home usually means I often continue to think about writing from the moment I get up to the moment I go to sleep. I don’t seem to be able to separate work and home time. I have never been that great at it even when I worked outside the home and that was not as a writer. Work always follows me everywhere. Of course when working at home it would help to have a designated writing room set aside. I, however, spend much of my day going from house task to house task intermixed with writing at the kitchen table. It is definitely not the best situation.

I often notice, while out at a cafe or the like, that there seems to be one or more people writing on their lap top. This I cannot fathom. I cannot imagine being able to get anything done in the confines of a little table and chair set in a corner of a busy eatery. I suppose it has great advantages when trying to write a restaurant scene or gathering character traits of eating, drinking and socialising. For me it would be a total distraction. I would probably be taking more notes of the things going on around me than actually writing anything coherent. Besides, my writing for the past two years has been non fiction. It has been a labour of finding fact and truth among misinformation, errors and perceptions.

I have wondered if being part of a writing group would help centre me a little but then I question whether my mind would deviate from its present focus by the comments and or inspiration of others. Many groups write fiction. I prefer non fiction or fact made into a form of fiction. I believe the best stories are based on truth but getting to the truth is not always so easy. There are many versions of the truth in any one situation. It all depends on how one experiences the events. For example, a man and woman speaking loudly in the street will have a different perception to what is going on than a person walking by or the child holding on to the speaking woman’s leg. Each person carries a set of assumptions or beliefs about the other people regardless of whether they are correct or not. We all do it. Our thoughts can be automatic, off the cuff gut reactions triggered by what we initially notice. They may or may not be based on reality.

Saying this I have come no farther in beginning my writing for the day. All I am doing is spilling out words on the page in the hope of getting a spark of motivation to get back into the swing of things and finish my book. So, I suppose the question I’m asking myself is why bother to write this in the first place instead of reading what I have already written for the book as a means of getting back into the stew? The answer is I guess I do need some other stimulation, some human conversation, a kick up the butt or some other form of persuasion now and again to tell me writing for truth, writing with a purpose, has merit. I know it does but it helps to hear it from someone who has been there or can see where I am coming from.

Are there any non fiction writers or any cheerleaders for non fiction out there interested in mutual support?