Silly me. I had this idea to write a WWII-era literary fiction novel a while back. Quite a while back.
I spent a lot of time researching in between writing scenes. I felt I had a decent grasp on the time period; my dad was a WWII marine—I grew up waking to The Marine Corps Hymn–and though I majored in English, not history, I spent a good deal of time learning about and teaching the Holocaust to my eighth-grade classes when I taught The Diary of Anne Frank. I even wrote a YA novel about a Polish boy falling in love in war-torn Poland for my Master’s thesis in creative writing.
I’d just need to check a few dates here and there, maybe read a few more books and immerse myself in the movies and music of the 1940s, and presto! I’d be good.
Not so true.
What is true is that old saying about “the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know.” Today’s epiphany: Go Deeper. I stumbled into going deeper today almost by accident. I was looking up a few Roosevelt quotes for a scene in my manuscript where my protagonist listens to the president on the radio. Just a few lines, you know, to add realism and texture to the scene.
And I find myself, hours later, too torn up to write the scene. I’ll write it tomorrow, or maybe the next day. You see, I found recordings of Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking to the American public. I listened to them. Then I found recordings of the broadcasts made by the journalists who had followed him throughout his long presidency talking about him on the day of his death.
These recordings are priceless. You will need Kleenex. And maybe a dog. Or a loved one nearby. Luckily, my protagonist has a hankie, a dog, and a brother.
If you haven’t done so, and you’re interested, go to http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/utterancesfdr.html to get started.
Three dates you might be interested in:
January 11, 1944: Radio Address to the Nation- State of the Union message to Congress (30 min.)
November 2, 1944: Campaign radio speech from the White House—“The World is Rising” (15 min.)
December 24, 1944: Christmas Eve Address (5 mins.) Make sure to stay tuned for The National Anthem that immediately follows.
Rachel “Lori” Pohlman, Copyright2016