My Work in Progress (WIP) is another research-intensive story. I guess I like looking stuff up and downloading books and getting immersed in details.
Omaha Beach, then and now. Two very different places, and both very well documented. Maps, videos, photographs, personal narratives and blogs. And of course I’ve been there a few times over the years.
The writing is coming along. Slowly. Four thousand words so far, and I’m a little under half way through, I guess.
Trouble is that the reality is so jaw-droppingly horrific and there are so many stories that my research turns into long afternoons of reading one book after another, unable to look away.
One of five invasion beaches, and while the others had their share of screw-ups and disasters, at Omaha, everything went wrong.
You ever see the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan? That’s where my head is at right now. Reviewing that movie, they held back a lot. The reality was far worse.
It says a lot for the quality of those American soldiers landing in Hell that even after every single roll of the die went against them, they still managed to draw on their training and their discipline and find a way to get on with the job.
A few men here and there managed to find ways through the obstacles, the minefields, the barbed wire, up the bluffs and off the beach. And once a few managed to find paths, others followed.
Their courage makes my head spin. With next to no cover on an open beach, they still made their way forward against defenders firing from concrete bunkers with every possible advantage. Eyewitness descriptions describe the bullets as landing like hail, and raising one’s head – let alone anything more – over even the scanty cover of a bank of shingle meant near-certain death.
But they did it.
Kind of hard to turn this into an sweet tale, I guess, but I get there. One aspect of my research is that the interlude I describe in the final chapter of the story is extremely unlikely, but I’m not going to let that hold me back. If those guys could press forward, I can as well.
Image credit: Britni Pepper