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On Becoming an Author - the first act.

My journey to becoming an author has been an exciting one but one full of very hard work. Researching my book Suicide Jockeys took many years because it was a little researched field in WWII history. If any of you are aspiring non-fiction writers or wondered what actually goes into such a book and aren't faint of heart read on.

Following mulling an idea in your head round and round and seeing what other publications there are on available on that subject comes the reading and research. Historians are always striving for originality in the subject of their books. It can be a well researched subject but we want to add something original in terms of evidence or approach and for us that depends on what documentation is available. I love researching records and documents, perhaps it's my favorite part. My poor husband has so much extraneous knowledge from years of my sharing what I discover and just have to share with him. I did a lot of primary source research for Suicide Jockeys. I wanted the men to speak for themselves, that was very important to me. Consequently, I had to drill down on what type of documentation I was looking for. Personally I am a primary document researcher - that is my primary goal in any research I do. So locating primary documents in a niche field of history - what could be easier?

Once the documents were located months of exhaustive research of specific records commenced to locate what I was looking for. Finally, I had something to work with and organize. Mounds and mounds of papers, records and books. I'm sure all researchers and authors develop their own style but for me seeing what I had turned the general idea for the subject into the beginnings of a working outline for the book. It sounds so much easier than it is. I was back to sorting large volumes of information into smaller workable chunks/chapters. I was a hamster on a wheel, sifting and sorting, this is in - no, it doesn't fit - hmmm will this quote work? Again and again going through the process until I had an organized volume of information to fill out my outline. Only then could I begin writing . . . and rewriting . . . . and rewriting again.

Draft after draft was written and revised, reviewed for grammar, punctuation, content, flow, applicability and of course the accompanying documentation for every bit of information also had to be organized and edited for accuracy. At last I was able to choose the pictures that would accompany the text. For a specialty field such as mine pictures can be hard to come by without the requisite need to get copyright release to use them, however, the museum or repository that holds the picture may not have the copyright. Pictures in and you guessed it more back to the hamster wheel and more editing. I don't know how many times I read my manuscript out-loud or silently and still I would miss an error. That means only one thing - time for part II, new eyes on and third party vetting process of my work or in my case a team of eyes


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