Three of my favourite things – reading, writing and research are also the most time consuming, frustrating and difficult of all my pursuits.
Why you ask should reading be frustrating or difficult? Try reading in a foreign language! It is most exasperating when the only way you can read an article or a piece of information is by copying and pasting it into a translation service. Then the subject matter may be difficult to read. For example, I am trying to learn more about Germany and the German people during and after World War II. My father was in the Wehrmacht (German army) and, while cleaning out his house after his death, I found letters written to him at the end of the war by a young girl who lived in Neuruppin, a town outside of Berlin. Both the fiction and non-fiction which deal with this subject are at times grim reading to say the least.
Which brings me to writing. I have no idea how anyone can write a book in a month, or six months, or even a year. I have spent just over three years now and am still rewriting and rewriting and tearing my hair out trying to find just the right word or phrase. Granted, I have had to write around full time work, study and family, but even so it is a time consuming process. Some weekend days I can sit at the computer for hours and not produce more than a paragraph. I know what I want to say but my words are not as perfect as I wish them to be. So far I have succeeded in completing a first draft. Now I must dismantle it like an annoying item from Ikea when, after you have built it, you find two spare screws which you know must fit somewhere.
I love research but I would prefer to be able to find definitive answers to my questions. I have my father’s war records, such as they are, but I am having difficulty finding the exact troop movements for his units. Many of the German army records have been destroyed. I can find general information, for example I can find out which direction the 18th Army headed during Operation Barbarossa but I cannot find out exactly where his particular unit fought say in July 1941. It is maddening to say the least. I have recently registered for several forums whose members may have information and I am hoping for some assistance. As for trying to find out what happened to Neuruppin after the war, there is only very general information. It was taken over by the Soviets, so one can only assume the worst for the population, but I cannot find any definitive history from that time.
My book is based on the relationship I had with my father, my need to know more about his past and this is intertwined with the letters written to him by the young German girl. The only way I can finish it is to continue with my three Rs.