1. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    indecisive on writing a subject

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DeadMoon, Feb 3, 2016.

    Has anyone felt uncomfortable or wrong for writing about something?

    I have an Idea for a short story that I would like to write but some nagging reason is telling me not to.
    It has to do with the Vietnam war and what was called a Short timers stick (also referred to as a swagger stick). this was carried around by a solder near the end of their tour. Then was passed on the the next guy with the shortest amount of time and so on. There are accounts of other ways and methods used as well but I was thinking of the one I described.

    The story word be something about the memories this solders carried with them and how a short times stick was passed down to other solders and their stories ect. there would be more to it also but there in lies the problem. I know people who have served and currently serve and who have been to Vietnam and have experienced horror far beyond what I could know. I also know that it's not something to be taken lightly. And this bothers me because I don't feel that I have the right to act like I could acutely describe or do justice to the men and women who have served and giving there lives or are home now but still are haunted by what they have been through.

    I know there are many things that a writer has not experienced and writes about, thats half the job but this certain subject just... doesn't feel right and I wanted to get some feedback on how others think about this or id anyone else has had a feeling of this is not right.
     
  2. R.K. Blackburn
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    R.K. Blackburn Member

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    I think a story like this one is better left to the vets who write. No matter how much research you do, no matter how many vets you interview, you will lack authenticity. There is something required between the lines to write combat and if you have never been there you won't be able to find it.
     
  3. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I disagree with the above poster. It seems common-place to write murderers, and I don't see why war should be considered any different in terms of the uniqueness of the experience.

    Deadmoon, I think you should feel free to write about it if you want. Overall, though, you know better than any of us whether you think you could do so accurately. I wouldn't start working on the story until you feel comfortable enough that you won't be continuously nervous about it.
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is this a story about The Short Times Stick? As in, what happened to the men as they carried it? Their experiences of nearing the end of their tour and dreamed about being home, but feared that they wouldn't actually make it, that they'd get killed in these final weeks?

    That sounds an awesome subject.

    Incidentally, I've only heard the term "Swagger Stick" applied to the short stick carried by officers and some NCOs, as a mark of their authority, or by other ranks when off duty - and not, generally, by US forces.
     
  5. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I've definitely felt uncomfortable about writing about a certain topic before, usually one intensely personal and/or not a personal experience of my own. Sometimes I find that it's a good indicator that I should back down and nix the story/plot or at least alter it, but sometimes it's just because it's an uncomfortable topic and writing about it should be uncomfortable. Doesn't mean you can't do it.

    That said, I've never served but I do write about war - I think it's safe to say a lot of people writing in military sf haven't, and even stripping away the fantastical window dressing, a lot of people making war movies and the like haven't. Sometimes the results come across as trashy and disrespectful, but, yknow, not always.

    My advice'd be read vets' stories. Talk to them if possible. Get actual veterans' opinions on you writing something like this. I don't know if there are any on the forum who'd like to chime in.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree that you have to live through an experience to write it convincingly or respectfully. After all, there is no single experience in any situation. I really enjoyed The Rosie Project, and when I read reviews some people with Asperger's said it was a brilliant representation of them, others trashed it. You can't please everyone no matter how researched you are, even if you're writing from personal experience.
     
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  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Yeah, it's not like most writers personally experience politics or fighting before they include them. As long as you reach a minimum bar of realism, it's okay. The extra research/thought is your choice. You seem to want realism. It sounds like you should use those survivor friends' information to represent them, You're in prime position to tell the story you want to tell. I always think it would be nice to interview someone on experiences or characteristics just for that little extra edge. Go for it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
  8. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    From what I have found so far is that the listed men would make their own stick from a piece of wood or branch off of a tree.

    thank you all for your responses it has helped me feel somewhat better about this and has giving me ideas on how to proceed, if I do. I think I will first research the subject as much as I can and then interview vets and combine the info and try to write the best set of stories as I can with everything I will have learned. thank you again
     
  9. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    I doubt Poe was ever tied to a table with a bladed pendulum swinging towards his stomach, but he sure as hell wrote about it.
     
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