Writing in the Age of Change
WRITING IN THE AGE OF CHANGE
First, let me say I was born into a family of the “greatest generation''; fueled by both fear and optimism.
I vaguely remember eerie bomb shelters, and school desks as a frontline defense; never dreaming one day they would be used to protect students from other students with guns in our schools, now known as "sheltering in place".
I remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot, and when the second plane hit the tower.
In short, I have been present for a lot of history, and fortunate enough to have been taught how to appreciate its importance.
Research and documentation became more of a way of life than a discipline.
Living in the college town of Madison, Wisconsin, I was surrounded by educators and education.
I married a soldier during the Vietnam War, dated a man who had been in the Korean War, and met a man who had been at the Beirut barracks bombing in Lebanon in 1983.
History and political science unveiled many secrets of the past, but I always wanted to know more and carefully planned projects that I would someday have time to pursue.
As a designer and project manager, I worked for decades in and around the United States and had the privilege of working and learning from people from around the globe: lunching with a Turkish marble salesman who described marble quarries being defended by armed guards in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I was traveling with a load of motel furnishings when the United States began bombing Iraq in Operation Desert Storm.
Later, I was in a meeting with two salesmen from a Pacific Rim tile conglomerate when we heard the news of the Oklahoma City Bombing; one exclaimed " they'll blame us!" he was Moslem, the other frantically started trying to call home, he was an Oklahoman, from Oklahoma City.
On September 11, 2001, I was working for a specialty retail group with shops in airports doing merchandising layouts and design.
I was on the phone with a store manager when she screamed " turn on your TV !"
I ran into the living room and clicked the screen on, I was in time to see the second plane hit the South Tower.
The next time I worked on that project, the airport was an armed camp and we were all terrified at the prospect of spending so much time around aviation fuel.
No one will ever forget the burning twin towers, and we faced a real possibility of a similar experience.
Later, Airforce One landed at that airport and people crowed at doors and windows to see it, realizing it had been a temporary Oval Office, a site of not just our Commander In Chief, but our government, under siege.
There weren't many dry eyes, that plane symbolized something powerful to each of us.
I had recently met an air marshall who had been in Iraq as a weapons inspector.
Apparently, the facility was being monitored for terrorist activity, he disappeared, and I didn't see him there again.
The site was in a strategically sensitive area, and I never knew how real the threat of an attack was; I was living in yet another epoch of world history.
I had always keenly aware of the historic events I was living in.
I clearly recall my young husband's plane leaving another airport for Seattle, there to catch a plane to South Vietnam.
It was a cool, rainy morning in May, there was fog around the tarmac, and the plane quickly disappeared.
I didn't know if I'd see him again, and I understood we were just two of the thousands of young people whose life was going to be changed forever.
I don't remember leaving that airport; I was young, I was in love, I was terrified.
I went to school, I learned, I got a degree. I got divorced, I worked and traveled.
Life went on, and the world grew smaller and more volatile.
I wanted to learn, and connect all the pieces I was living through.
Many years later, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to take some time off and pursue my passion.
I spent three years studying and researching the Middle East.
I was especially interested in the role Lebanon played in terrorism, writing and publishing three non-fiction books; profound learning experiences, and introduction to the world of digital publishing.
One day I received a newsletter offering a contest for short stories about the oil and using the last three years of research and writing, and life experience, ( I had lived in Oklahoma) I wrote a short story about oil exploration, and I loved it.
I didn’t win, I was a runner-up, and the short story was published in a literary collection.
It was my first work of fiction, and I'd found that fiction writing could be, and was, fun.
When I finished that short story, I knew I had written the beginning of a bigger story and maybe a series, and the opportunity to explore all the history involved was intriguing.
I loved my characters and their lives, and hopes and dreams; I loved " being there".
I could see the characters being cast, and the reality they and the setting would bring to my work.
I have great affection and respect for history; studying history allows us the privilege of the effort of unconditional understanding and insight into the multitude of facets of the people involved, as much as the outcome of the historic event.
Historic events may be initiated or spontaneous, but they are never without people and their quests.
These are the people who make history, the people who enact history, and the people who live through history.
History that is their “present” in time.
Each period of time defines itself in many ways.
Homes and buildings and places become icons of eras.
A love of architecture, interior design, building, and development, kept me working and living in those settings for over forty years.
I always wanted to go up in a crane, I teared up seeing an American flag raised from the top story of a new building, and the Christmas trees that dotted the building sites' top stories during the holiday season.
I lived and worked in America, with people building America.
We contributed to what was the American Dream.
Working, and living in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico familiarized me with many aspects of the construction and oil industries; including "boom and bust" cycles.
I have put these experiences, and more, into many of my settings, adding people I've met, populating, and drafting reality-based historical fiction.
I look forward to more experiences, research, and creativity, as history swirls around us!
It's my American Dream.
It's my history.