Category Archives: On writing

Posts on the process of writing, edits, response to comments, and miscellaneous information about the Pages, which is where you will find the book itself, A War Journal.

More changes…

I’m looking into migrating the site to a WordPress hosted domain, so there may be some momentary service gaps here, but I’ll try to update this post as things progress. I think the links will still work, tho I may end up with a different URL. Relying heavily on my friend Emily, who has so graciously hosted me for all these years, to help with the transition, as I obviously don’t know what I’m doing! Thanks Em!

Also am again looking at publishers… not holding my breath, but it is a remote possibility. Seems there may be more interest in publishing things that offer insight on the war culture and how it affects people in the US. Maybe someone will find it worth a shot.


I’ve made a few changes to the site settings, so there’s no way to become a registered user, so you can’t comment unless you were already registered. If you were already registered, should still be able to log in… I think. — There’s a lot of spam out there, and it’s annoying. Spammers should go away. If you seriously want to read this blog or the book and it’s difficult, just email me and we’ll work it out. I’d love to have email comments as well. Thanks.

Also, I have submitted the book proposal to a couple of publishers, tho not a very good chance of getting it read. Still considering self-publishing…. comments?

Revision to Introduction – & warning

My dear wife has recently begun reading this, and being more honest to me than most, has noticed some issues that might need clarification. (!)

First of all, be sure you read the Introduction – which I have just revised, and be sure you notice the warnings… especially regarding the two streams in the timeline of the story, which can be very confusing if you aren’t aware that the two streams of the story are interleaved – i.e., mixed together. The Chapters of the story I’ve called The Trip drop in every three or four pieces and are a separate, related story which began a year or so after I was out of the Air Force.

And I have added numbers to the list of pieces, so if you’re coming back to that you’ll have an easier time remembering which ones you’ve read…


Just finished reading Micahel Ondaatje’s 1982 work Running in the Family… what an experience!

Had not heard of it, discovered it by accident while looking for his new book The Cat’s Table, which I’ve been meaning to read for some time, having read about five of his books and loved them… and am just speechless with wonder at the magic he does. This book, which I read over the weekend, has reached into nearly every part of my own heart and opened it up for better or worse, and now I’m feeling washed over. Burned clean. Nothing I can say can approach what this book opens up. It is truly a spiritual experience to read his work.

It really catches up the whole great thing of family… all the beauty and pain of it wrapped into one account. And so much more…

It’s also an intense look into the personal aspects of 20th Century colonial life, all the beauty and pain of that! It was like a vast flood that raised several generations of people up in this fantasy of aspirations and accomplishments and then just smashed them down into the rocks of reality. He has this wonderful, probably mostly allegorical, story of his grandmother’s death that depicts that so beautifully.

It is – one of the levels it touches – a rare clear look into the impact of Empire on the lives of the aristocracy in a country which was washed over by wave after wave of European colonialism. We generally know, if we have thought of the subject at all, that colonialism vastly degraded the lives of the poor and ordinary peoples of the world, but often I think we have wrongly assumed that the upper classes, the wealthy, the elite benefited from it.

In fact, as Ondaatje shows in his lyrical way, they were as devastated by Empire as any street beggar or farmer. A member of the Asian diaspora, he revisits his home country, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and delves deeply into his own family, his ancestors and contemporaries, their friends and enemies, revealing lives and families and a whole culture torn apart by the exotic influences of Dutch, English, and American invasions – peaceful, benign, courteous, even kind invasions though they were.

It’s a powerful account, with deep social, cultural and personal strains that I’m still sorting out.

A Chorus of Stones – Susan Griffin

[I will insert this into the pieces, maybe as a preface, or otherwise as separate quotes along the way….]

Susan Griffin’s A Chorus of Stones is the most powerful book I’ve ever read. It was a major influence in my decision to write my story of this war and its impacts on a few lives. A few excerpts:

-pg. 32

There are events in our lives that we cannot understand because we keep a part of what we know away from understanding. War is one of those events.

–pg. 178

The telling and the hearing of a story is not a simple act. The one who tells must reach down into deeper layers of the self, reviving old feelings, reviewing the past. Whatever is retrieved is reworked into a new form, one that narrates events and gives the listener a path through these events that leads to some fragments of wisdom.

–pgs. 260-261

In the fifth year of writing this book I met a man who had been shell-shocked in the Vietnam War. I asked him to tell me his story, and he tried. But he had lost the capacity to make a meaning from the events of his life…. The war was not what he had imagined…. He wanted to leave the army as a conscientious objector. But he was sent to a psychiatrist and threatened with dishonorable discharge. Then he simply ceased to care…. I began to suspect his lassitude concealed a state of paralysis, not of the body, but of the soul. He was as if suspended in the past, disbelieving the old values, yet unable to act on his own beliefs.

–pg. 363

And you, though you don’t know him, though you will never even see him, will retain some sense of him as you begin, after the war, to put down on paper all this that you saw and heard.