My mental process is enough to make most any publisher scream in despair. Maybe it’s my attention deficit syndrome, I’m not sure. Day to day, my focus changes from one novel to another. Mine is not a writing process I recommend, but it seems to be unavoidable for me.
My top priority is to complete a book entitled, Wings of Valor. It’s a long novel about combat helicopter crews set in the Republic of South Vietnam circa 1966-1968. When I’m on a roll, the story moves along with satisfying progress. However, my attention is often diverted by the formation of scenes in my mind, having to do with another project: The Troubleshooter. That book is about a U.S. Army intelligence officer (Captain Frank West) assigned to bring WWII war criminals to justice. Beginning in 1944, the story moves through the countries of France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, and Germany.
For the most part, I’ve been able to stick with my primary project. But I find it difficult to disregard the creative flow that percolates in my mind at random times and places. I would say that moving from one project to another is quite counterproductive, but the end result – for me – seems strangely satisfying.
Most of last week found me working happily on Wings of Valor. I was making great progress. Then, late one night, I found myself awakened by questions of protocol for O.S.S. operatives pursuing WWII war criminals. This, of course, had nothing to do with Wings of Valor, but was key to many action scenes in The Troubleshooter. So, after having my REM’s so blatantly interrupted, a new restlessness compelled me to search for answers. By 2 AM, I was searching for answers to questions such as: How does a U.S. Army intelligence officer pursue a German Waffen SS war criminal in the middle of war-torn Europe? How would Capt. West be attired? How would he blend in? How would he apprehend the war criminal? How would he transport his prisoner for trial?
History plays a big part in my two books. Historical facts regarding military protocol are key ingredient in the believability of my two books. So, for me, researching history is as important as writing fiction … writing believable fiction. But, as helpful as Google research and history books are, I have discovered that nothing is quite as helpful as listening to the still, small voice of inspiration. Combining history research with inspiration led me to the answers I sought, much to my relief.
So, having found my answers, I returned my attention to Wings of Valor. I never planned on working on two books at one time, but it seems clear to me that such is my lot in life. I don’t know if other writers face such a delima, but it certainly is a fact of life for me. I hope I don’t come up with a third idea for a book before I finish those I’m working on now. I don’t think my coping mechanism could handle it.