Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company A, 306th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Place and date: Leyte, Philippine Islands, 21 December 1944. Entered service at: Carney’s Point, N.J. Birth: Philadelphia, Pa. G.O. No.: 49, 28 June 1945. Citation: He was a radio operator, advancing in the rear of his company as it engaged a well-defended Japanese strong point holding up the progress of the entire battalion. When a rifle platoon supporting a light tank hesitated in its advance, he voluntarily and with utter disregard for personal safety left his comparatively secure position and ran across bullet-whipped terrain to the tank, waving and shouting to the men of the platoon to follow. Carrying his bulky radio and armed only with a pistol, he fearlessly penetrated intense machinegun and rifle fire to the enemy position, where he killed 1 of the enemy in a foxhole and moved on to annihilate the crew of a light machinegun. Heedless of the terrific fire now concentrated on him, he continued to spearhead the assault, killing 2 more of the enemy and exhorting the other men to advance, until he fell mortally wounded. After being evacuated to an aid station, his first thought was still of the American advance. Overcoming great pain he called for the battalion operations officer to report the location of enemy weapons and valuable tactical information he had secured in his heroic charge. The unwavering courage, the unswerving devotion to the task at hand, the aggressive leadership of Pfc. Benjamin were a source of great and lasting inspiration to his comrades and were to a great extent responsible for the success of the battalion’s mission.
No, I am not dead, and the blog has not become the exclusive domain of previously written auto-posts. I am very much alive, and have had quite the busy few months since Joseph was born in August.
I think I have finally established a regular schedule that includes Joseph and all the other things I have to do, emphasis on regular. I think what finally did it was NaNoWriMo, the insane schedule for November where you commit yourself to write 50,000 words of an original story in 30 days. Forcing myself to make the time for that required me to organize my day and everything else so that I would have at least a 2 hour block at the end of the day to sit and just create.
Of course, it helped that Joseph reached the point where he can sleep from 7 to 10, wake to get changed and fed, then go to sleep until 4, at which time I wake up, change and feed him again, then try to sleep for an hour before rising to start everything over again.
Anyway, I managed to create an outline this year, and it helped me get the first 25,000 words or so down on disk before I bogged down. The middle was difficult, but towards the end I found I could push out two to three thousand words per day in chunks that advanced the storyline and developed the characters in ways I wanted. In the end, though, I had the same problem I had last year: the story wasn’t done, even though the 50k word count was reached. I still have at least half the story to tell.
Jon Winokur posted a quote from Colm Tóibín in his @AdviceToWriters twitter account today: “Finish everything you start”. I’m going to take that advice and ignore it at the same time. I am setting a goal of finishing the manuscript for last year’s NaNoWriMo novel, The Dragonslayers, and if possible, publishing it as well. I’ll let The Locks of the Kingdom sit and ferment for a bit, and try to develop an ending to it that is both coherent and engaging.
For next year’s NaNoWriMo, I’m going to redo my 2009 effort (which crashed and burned at 500 words) about a continent that suddenly boils up (literally) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Between now and then, I’m going to write out a mega-outline, including character studies and all sorts of other fun stuff.
Stay tuned, I’ll be posting excerpts as the year goes on. And look for some poetry in April, which is National Poetry Month. I plan on writing a bunch of sonnets, ala Shakespeare, not the kind of random word generator poetry you see colleges put out these days.