Ever since I finished my last book, Clay Soldiers: One Marine’s Story of War, Art, & Atomic Energy, I’ve been looking for my next project. Usually, I know what I want to work on next by the time my last project is finished. It didn’t happen that way this time.
So I looked at my list of previously started projects and ideas for future projects. Nothing jumped out at me as something that I wanted to spend a year or more working on.
I’m a big believer in enthusiasm. A writer should be excited about whatever he or she is working on because that enthusiasm will translate in some way onto the page. If the enthusiasm isn’t there, it will be detectable in your writing.
I picked out two projects from my list – one historical fiction and one non-fiction history – and started reviewing them. I had previously done work on both (outlining, research, a couple rough draft chapters). I read through the previous work and started adding to it. I wasn’t feeling excitement for either project. That’s not to say that I won’t ever feel excitement. It’s just that whatever my subconscious wanted me working on now, it wasn’t either of these projects.
That wouldn’t stop me from moving them forward, though. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting past a mental road block in the story to get excited about. Even if I wrote entire draft without getting excited about the book, I could put the draft aside until I do feel excited about it and then go back and edit it.
I didn’t have to go that route this time because a reader of my columns sent me an e-mail asking me if I had ever considered writing a book about the crash of a B-52 in Western Maryland that had been carrying two thermonuclear warheads. I had written a column about years ago. I had also considered writing a longer article about it. I even have the idea for a Cold War thriller based on the story.
Surprisingly, I had never thought about writing a book about the event. I e-mailed him back saying that I wondered if there was enough “meat” to write a book about it. He said that he had talked to family of the crew members who had died and crew members and that he believed there was. He said that there was information and pictures that had never been published.
I started getting the feeling that I get about all my new project, curiosity. I reviewed my column and some other information I had about the incident. Suddenly, I was seeing a way to write about it as a book.
There’s still a few ways that the story can wind up going. A lot will depend on what the interviews and research reveals. I will be starting on that next week after I meet with the person who wrote to me to get a list of contacts he has. Hopefully, the project will also push me to improve my research and writing skills. I think it will because I see some possible research possibilities are outside of my comfort zone.
One thing is definite. I am excited about the project. I even have a working title. In the future, watch for more information about Buzz One Four: The Day Nuclear Bombs Fell on Maryland.