I’ve been working on a biography of an interesting World War II veteran who is 94 years old. His name is Chuck Caldwell. It’s the first time I’ve written a biography on a living subject. I’ve been sitting down to interview him for a couple hours every week then taking the information he has given me to use as a jumping-off point to research deeper and track down others to interview.
Once I write a decent draft of a chapter, I’ve given it to Chuck to read to make sure the facts are correct and to see if it makes him think of any other stories. Usually, I leave the draft at the end of one of our interviews and pick it up the next time we meet.
The other week he actually asked me to stay while he read through the pages that I handed him. I thought that I would be bored waiting for him. I wasn’t. I gave me a different insight into what I was working writing.
I watched as Chuck read. At times, he would nod his head. Other times, he would actually chuckle. He would write a few notes in the margins here and there.
At one point, he stopped and said, “This is going to be great for my children to read.”
Suddenly, a lot of the doubts that I had been having about the process and whether I was doing Chuck’s story justice fell away. I knew that I was on the right track. Watching his reaction, I was invigorated. This was the first feedback that I was getting on the story so it meant a lot to me.
Now I am back at work on the next chapter, pulling in pieces from our various interviews to create a timeline that I will match to archival research and other interviews. I am also excited to see where this project takes me because so far, it has definitely taken me outside of my writing comfort zone.
I can’t wait to see how it ends.