My July classes are over. Now I can focus on writing which is definitely easier said than done.
My retirement schedule last August was somewhat busy. I allowed my writing to be interrupted by various activities and travel away from Minneapolis. As I look back “interruptions” were a common theme that I needed to get resolved. I had to remember that writing is the art of keeping my butt in the chair.
It was not a totally lost month, since I began to compose my opening chapter. It described how Elizabeth Crane, my female navy seal character, flies from Boston to Minneapolis. I had this idea of having her reminisce about her training days while on the plane. An event sparks her memory as she settled into the flight. I have often found that airline travel causes me to do the same thing. Work out a problem or remember something from the past. As the saying goes “write about what you know”.
My first step was to have her arrive at Boston’s Logan airport. As you know from my March blog entry, she sees the 9/11 memorial as her cab approaches the terminal. She thinks back to her visit at this site. She is jolted back to the present as her cab stops, thanks the driver, and enters the airport. The next challenge was to describe Logan. I found that the Logan Airport website was extremely helpful. In addition, Elizabeth was going to Minneapolis for work, and she would be taking her weapon with her. So I had to decide which weapon she would want to carry plus find out how she would get through security.
Weapons research was only difficult from the standpoint of there was so much of it. I did come across a great blog in which a policewoman, who had just graduated from the academy, asked the question of what weapon would be best for her. This blog had numerous comments on weapons and the most efficient way for a woman to carry her sidearm. I also learned that since a woman’s hand is normally smaller than a male, weapons of all types have been modified to accommodate female shooters.
Once I decided on her main and backup weapons, I had to figure out how an armed federal officer gets through security. This knowledge did not come easily. I initially could not find anything but generic references on the TSA website. While traveling I actually thought of asking a TSA agent about this issue if the security lines were not too busy. Fortunately the opportunity did not present itself and, upon further reflection, I probably would have been arrested on the spot. Several months later I found, by digging deeper into another TSA website, the security procedure for a federal officer flying armed.
Elizabeth finally gets on the plane and thinks back. I have had this training scene in my head for a long time. Before I could write it, I had to get up to speed on what Navy Seals go through. I read and continue to reread The Finishing School, Earning the Navy Seal Trident by Dick Couch. It is simply amazing what candidates go through to achieve the Trident and become a Navy Seal. It has to be one the most rigorous and challenging tasks anyone could endeavor to attempt.
Once the rough draft of this first chapter was done, I realized the reader would have no idea about one of the key players in my “training scene”. This is Richard Thayer, who was also a candidate at the same time as Elizabeth.
I spent three years in Chicago attending law school back in the early 70’s. Again, write about what you know. One of my roommates, Tony Eben, was from Chicago. His family lived near the Gold Coast in a high-rise apartment. My memory of Tony stimulated the creation of Richard Thayer. From that seed of a memory, Thayer evolved but in a completely different direction. By the time I was done with introducing Richard Thayer in my first chapter, there was absolutely no resemblance to Tony or his family. Yes, Richard Thayer, not Elizabeth Crane, is currently my first chapter.
So already I am only one month into the process and my original thought about the order of my chapters had changed. As I got deeper into my writing, reversing course turned out to be the norm rather than the exception.