So, I’ve been doing some serious historical research for a personal writing project. I’ve gone so far as to request WWII military records for some of the guys I want to write about. It’s an odd series of emotions I go through when I get a packet from the government.
First, excitement. In order to write the story, I have to read the story in all these bits and pieces first, so I’m getting the information I crave in these big manila envelopes at random intervals.
Second, a little bit of reverence. I’m pawing through once-confidential documents that detail the lives and sometimes deaths of real human beings who volunteered for the worst kind of hazardous duty there is. This despite the fact that many back home considered them less than fully human.
Finally, there’s a little bit of shame. I inevitably run across something that feels like it should have remained personal - like one soldier’s debilitating bout with hemorrhoids while in-theater, or notes from an army psychiatrist about his state of mind - and I have a little twinge of guilt. Would I dare to look at this if the guy were still alive and looking over my shoulder?
In the final analysis, I want these guys to be three-dimensional and as true-to-life as possible when I write up their story. So I guess all of those feelings are fairly righteous in pursuit of that end.
Why am I telling you this? Not really sure. There’s a strange mix of intimacy and distance on Tumblr (except for those of you who know me in real life and are thus trusted anyway) that makes it feel like the right place to talk about something that may or may not be of any meaning to anyone outside of my head.