It seems to me that writing about history is one of those things that one would think would be easy but it winds up being an incredibly long and arduous process. I am simply amazed by all of the historians who have written multiple books, especially since quite a few of them have other full-time jobs (Eric Wittenberg comes to mind, especially).
When I was in 8th grade, I wanted to write a historical fiction novel set during the Civil War. I did quite a bit of research, stayed after school to talk with my history teacher about Gettysburg around the time of the war (fun fact: he was the one who actually got me into the Civil War in the first place and is both an amazing teacher and a battlefield guide), and found out about the set-up of the town, the people who lived there, and some basic military history. But every time I began writing I would start worrying that I wasn't being accurate. It bothered me having to make up things that didn't actually happen. Now that I am a more serious student of the war and hang out with more historians who seem to know about everything imaginable, I've realized that I'd only skimmed the very surface of my subject in 8th grade and that I wasn't too far off thinking I was going to wind up being inaccurate. I would have been sort of disasterous, I think. Maybe hilariously so, but disasterous nonetheless.
I believe that anyone who is able to write about history successfully, whether it be in a creative or academic form, has accomplished something great. My desire to write about something the way Gabor Boritt does, or the way Doris Kearns Goodwin does, or the way Michael Beschloss does, is strong.
Though I am faced with several obstacles including my age, lack of experience, time and resources, I am deciding that I am going to begin that long and arduous process of researching for hours on end and maybe someday something material will come out of it. Any advice you have for me would be much appreciated, even if it's "Stop right there, missy."
In other somewhat related news, you can expect a book review from me relatively soon.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot
Welcome to Ten Roads! This blog is intended to be a place for me to share my (generally Civil War-related) thoughts and experiences. I try to update once a week at the very least. All comments and readers are greatly appreciated!