Long time, no blog. With two projects completed in pretty quick succession, I’d sort of got in the habit of concentrated writing. No bad thing – but 18 months without a book on the stocks has left me twiddling my thumbs and succumbing to a lot of Emergency Holidays.
Rather than being completely dilatory I am writing the life story of an elderly friend in his 90s. His WW2 service was in India and Indonesia – a theatre I knew next to little about, so it was a good opportunity to learn something. Learning interesting new things is one of the principal joys of non-fiction writing and perhaps what I miss most about not having a project on the go.
So I am learning a bit about the British Indian Army, Jemadars and Subedar Majors, the insurgents who wanted to kick the Dutch out of what was then the Dutch East Indies, and the horrors that surrounded the partition of India at the end of the British Raj.
Though nothing like the scale of the task untaken for Britain’s Greatest Generation, and likely to be read by a handful of people rather than thousands, it’s just as worthwhile and reminds me that life-stories are intrinsically valuable – exceptional or ordinary, thrilling or mundane – especially to those close to the loved-ones who won’t always be with us.
I write this days away from the centenary of the 1918 Armistice with much in the news about those who fell and the impact on those who survived. So perhaps I’m more conscious than usual of the march of time and the need to record the everyday experiences of those who lived through very different and much tougher times. We owe them a debt of gratitude: recording their efforts, however apparently modest, is a worthy act of remembrance.
2019 will, I hope bring new projects. A major series for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is being pitched to the big international streaming services. There may be an associated book. The idea for a novel, based on an intriguing and enigmatic character from 20th century history and a house where extraordinary things went on, refuses to go away despite my best efforts to kill it through inactivity.
Something may happen, especially if I have the courage to make it!