19 June 2010

What I really want to write...

Recently, I was asked whether or not I would be writing a book about my wartime experiences.  Truth be told, there's little interesting to write, save for amusing insights into Army bureaucracy, a lot of flying over immense expanses of sand and rock, and one instance where I was legitimately shot at but never got a CAB. (Yeah, not bitter)

As a result, I fear that a memoir of that nature would fall into the pitfall examined by Michael C. of "On Violence" of using a memoir as a way to carry out one's vendettas and personal grudges.  Michael brings up the examples of some of the best war memoirs of the past decade, including those of Nathaniel Fick, Andrew Exum, and Kayla Williams, who flung considerable criticism at superior officers, other soldiers, and the omnipresent "fun police".

However, I don't necessarily agree with Michael C.'s claim that this is indicative of poor writing.  Stories thrive on some form of conflict, and a war against an unseen insurgency often makes for a boring narrative.  Thus, the conflict in the memoir would need to follow the "man vs. man " paradigm (which often involves painful self-criticism), or the "man vs. man" approach (the easiest).  Certainly, it's quite easy, particularly for the more creative, "non-military" mind, to find considerable conflict with one's chain of command and military organizational culture as a whole.

Yet, although I think that I could probably write an entire novel entitled "War is Asinine", I have to admit that it would sound like petty griping, and wouldn't be to illuminating on the real struggle in Iraq.

Thus, I've toyed with the idea of creating a script for an episode of "Star Wars:  Clone Wars", which would parallel some of the complexities of Afghanistan.  Trouble is, unfortunately, that anything I write would likely fall into the realm of bad fan fiction.  (Something I've lampooned quite frequently in my youth)

Anyone have an inside track at LucasArts?


Spencer Ackerman said...

Wish I did. I would definitely watch an Afghanistan-inspired 'Clone Wars' episode.

欣幸 said...

you look great today..................................................

jumblerant said...

I think you're wrong - many people would be interested in your day to day life abroad, what you think of normal is very exciting to some of us chair-warmers worldwide!!

Madhu said...

Actually, personal vendettas and petty gripes can make for some pretty great art. It's not like Picasso or Charles Dickens were such shrinking violets.

A novel centered around a bureaucracy (I know, it's my pet issue, but I'll never give it a rest) has the potential to be funny, clever, and illuminating of the human spirit. If done well. And notice I say novel and not memoir.

Go for it!

PS: Think about the plots to some of the great novels. Not all of them have a lot of plot, except as thought and remembrance. Proust dips a cookie into tea...into such a space a very interesting book might be written. It's all in how you do it, man.

Andy Kravetz said...

Hey buddy, if you need help with writing, just let me know. Been a professional reporter and writer for about 20 years now. Be glad to offer some suggestions to a fellow Cardinals fan.

Eric C said...

Hey Starbuck,

First, we've been off partying all week, so sorry it has taken me so long to get on this comment thread. And of course thanks for the link. I think this article made people think, at least I hope it did.

I guess, and I'll be publishing a defense of this sentiment Friday or next, is that I hate petty grudges. Why bitch about your shitty XO when your AO is undermanned? Because one is more patriotic.

You nailed why it happens though. Art needs conflict, authors don't want to criticize themselves. The bst memoirists understand this, and write about it.

Second, and the above commenter MAdhu nailed it, I want novels, fiction. You're so right, your clone wars episode would be better. The easy narrative would get people through it, and you'd be free to present people the way they are. As we wrote a few months ago, District 9 will teach the avg. person more than the Hurt Locker.