I rarely make New Year resolutions because I’m pretty good with managing my expectations and goals throughout the year. I am mostly tactical and timely about my activities – what I want or need on a daily or weekly basis – but I do find the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve a good time to review the bigger picture: did I do what was important? did I help others in both physical and emotional ways? did I reflect a life well lived?
I also take time to sketch out my major expectations for the year to come. For 2022, I included an eleventh Mogi mystery, plus another adult book; one or more visits to my distant sons and their families; active support of family projects; a research trip or two to help me visualize my new stories; a major rafting adventure, if I get a permit; and the regular reading of a variety of books.
I also set a goal of investing more effort in writing my more-or-less-weekly website blogs. I began writing blogs in 2017 because my editor told me that it would help sell my books and allow the multitude of my readers to view me more personably. Regardless of what actually happened, I grew to enjoy writing short essays on a regular basis, passing on interesting stories, historical anecdotes, book recommendations, as well as commenting on the various aspects of my learning the craft of writing novels. If nothing else, my efforts helped keep me centered and authentic.
However, I now have a dilemma. After Teddy’s War was finished, I read a non-fiction book that dealt with the post-war activities in Eastern Europe, in 1945-46, when all of Europe was reeling from its devastation. In particular, how 40 million refugees were moving every direction throughout every countryside, trying to restart whatever pieces of their former lives they could find. I found the situation engrossing, relatively unknown, dramatic, and incredibly revealing about nation-states, which prompted me to think that somewhere in that time period had to be the material for a novel.
That prompted me to learn more about WWII and specifically about the Nazi regime. I’m currently reading a thick, scholarly, garage-sale book about Hitler, the growth of the Nazi Party, and the entrenched goals of the Third Reich. For about 700 pages (no pictures), the book covers the development of Nazism in Europe from the end of WWI to after the Nuremberg Trials, especially showing the political intrigue and manipulation in regards to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and other nations of Eastern Europe.
The book is very interesting, has an amazing amount of historical facts, and presents a great overview of the time period, but it puts me in a quandary about writing about it. So far, the characterization of the whole era and its people has been incredibly depressing. I’ve had to go slowly to avoid a build-up of weariness and disbelief.
The detailed history has been depressing enough that it makes me wonder if I want to spend the next year writing a novel set against Europe before, during, and after the Third Reich. So far, every major player in the Reich leadership seems to be a psychopath, as well as self-serving, amoral, brutal, and downright vicious. I’m feeling stuck inside an asylum for the criminally insane, watching the inmates take over the building.
That makes it difficult to imagine writing blogs about what would undoubtably be my focus for the next several months. It might be interesting, but who wants to read depressing stuff on a regular basis?
I intend to finish the current book, read an in-depth book about Czechoslovakia, and then a history of Poland. I’m even considering signing up with a tour company for a two-week, WWII-focused trip through Poland and Germany. I’ll enjoy seeing the country and learning the history firsthand, but I’ll also be seeking a resolution to my dilemma. I need to be confident of not only my capability and dedication for pursuing this new writing adventure, but of being able to enjoy it without being compromised by its misery.
Don Willerton has been a reader all his life and yearns to write words like the authors he has read. He's working hard at it and invites others to share their experiences.