This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (http://rbmartiniv.smugmug.com).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Just Finished (well, almost) a Twenty-Five Year Project!

I haven't written anything in my blog for some time because I have been spending much of my free time in an all out effort to complete a memoir of my experiences in the US Army.  Most of that time was spent in Vietnam where I served with the 101st Airborne Division.  I wanted to write about my experiences primarily for my son and daughter.  I thought that it may give them a little more insight into why I am who I am.

Beginning this project almost 25 years ago, I would write a bit but tire of it quickly and put it aside.  I would get it out every couple of  years or so, write furiously for a short while, loose interest, and set it aside until I pulled it out again after another couple of years.  This cycle repeated itself many times until about a year ago when I realized I wasn't getting any younger and really needed to get it completed.

Fortunately, I had made a lot of notes at the start of the project or I wouldn't have been able to write very much at all.  How the memory fades over the years.  However, as I reviewed my notes, letters, news reports, unclassified Army documents, and photos with descriptions written on the back I began to remember more and more.

It was an excellent mind exercise, especially for someone of my age.  Everyone should try it.  Pick an important part of your life, a couple of years or so, and write everything that you can remember about it.  The secret to successfully completing such a project is not to rush it.  It can't be forced and you can't sit down and write everything you remember about a transitional part of your life over a weekend.  I don't know how many total hours I have spent over the past 25 years writing my memoir.  Hundreds for certain.

Other than the fading memory, what has made this project so difficult is my ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  ADD makes it very difficult to stick with a long project (or even a not so long one sometimes) and is probably why it took me 25 years.  ADD makes you want to finish what you are doing RIGHT NOW and move on to something else.  You tend to jump from project to project instead of finishing one prior to moving on to the next.  Because of that, I found studying very difficult when I was a student.  I would spend ten or fifteen minutes on one subject and then move on to another for ten or fifteen minutes and so on, and on.  This was reflected in my average (and some below average) grades when at the university.

I didn't discover this inability to study while in high school because our school was small school and each class tended to move at the speed of the slowest learner.  I never HAD to study in high school. I could be an A student with only ten or fifteen minute reviews.  What a shock it was when I went off to the university!  I did manage to graduate with a five year pharmacy degree in five years, but I had to attend summer school each year to keep up.  After my stint in the Army I went back to school on two separate occasions, maintained excellent grade point averages, and earned my MBA and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.  I just had to work extra hard, plus - even though I hate to admit it - I believe the Army may have taught me some good work habits.

Although ADD is a disorder that I have had since birth, I was only diagnosed with it and prescribed medication for it a few years ago. The medication has been a tremendous help.  I can get interested in something and not want to stop working on it.  This is not necessarily a good thing because it tends to alienate your spouse.  Now, instead of trying very hard to concentrate on one topic I have to try very hard not to get fixated on one topic.  But it's better than not being able to finish anything because of a short attention span. I only wish medical and pharmaceutical science had known about ADD and its treatment when I was a student.

It was a long and fairly difficult road but my memoir is all but finished now.  The story is written and I am rather satisfied with it.  It's not a great piece of literature and certainly won't win any awards (especially if it isn't published) but it says what I wanted to say.  It needs proofing and editing and rereading a dozen times or so to make sure it flows properly. It's a lot longer than I would have ever thought it would be.  It adds up to a little over 78,800 words, which is 230 letter sized pages of 12 point font, one inch margins, and spacing at one and a half lines. If I had formatted it the size of a paperback book it would have run 350 to 400 pages. I broke it up into chapters, one for each event, topic, or remembrance.  Most of the chapters are very short.  Many are only one page.  The longest is six pages or so. It came out to ninety-nine (99) chapters.  Now I have to decide what to do with it.

2 comments :

Croft Randle said...

Wow! What a project! And what a subject! I suspect many or most people involved in that part of history would just as soon forget it but you are correct, it is worth documenting, probably as much for yourself as for anyone else. It had to have been an important part of your life. You may decide to publish it or just keep it in a pdf format to distribute to your family and friends. I am sure it would be an interesting read,

Robert & Carol Ann Martin said...

I'll be sure and let you know if I find a way to publish it. I'm still working on getting slides and photos digitized for inclusion. I have to send them off for that.