We just wrapped up our first month of the ClearanceJobs book club, and I have to say, we couldn’t have picked a better title. This month we sent ‘Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War’ to 15 individuals. A couple of us participated in a Facebook Group chat (which anyone is welcome to join), and hopefully a few more were inspired to pick up a pen or open up the keyboard to tell their stories.
I’ve read a lot of war literature. As a former Army public affairs officer, I’ve always been enamored with military writers, military history, and military bloggers. My major in college was international relations with a concentration in conflict and security – it was not uncommon for me to be one of a handful of civilians surrounded by Navy ROTC cadets in classes. But I’ve never read anything quite like ‘Why We Write’ – and that’s a good thing. When I picked it up, I assumed I was going to read dozens of anecdotes that would try to encourage veterans to tell their stories. Quite a few do that. But I’ll argue even if you’re not a veteran, even if you have zero desire to do any writing – you’ll find something memorable about ‘Why We Write.’ The variety of perspectives is impressive – men and women, civilians and active-duty service members, veterans of almost every generation. The authors include writers from across the globe, and across the country, from Australia to Oklahoma.
The size of the essays is palatable for even the most distracted reader – I enjoyed picking up ‘Why We Write’ like an evening appetizer or late night dessert – pick it up, soak in a few essays, and put it down for a few days. Sure, you can binge read. But sometimes it’s nice to read slow, and ‘Why We Write’ is perfect for that.
Yes, You Have a Story to Tell
Whoever you are, wherever you are, veteran or not – now may be the best time to start telling your story. Yes, you can enjoy ‘Why We Write’ even if you have no desire to write – but with new time on your hands and nowhere to go, take the time to tell your story. Contributors of the ‘Why We Write’ book unpacked the many reasons for writing – to share perspective with civilians who didn’t seem to understand, to share history with students, to reveal missed years to children left at home. Some described it as therapy, others as cathartic, some as just something to help pass the time or provide a gateway to better sleep. No one described it as easy. Everyone noted it was worth it.
Perhaps my favorite part of ‘Why We Write’ is the reminder of the depth of thought diversity within those who serve in uniform. If you haven’t served in the military, you may see it as a monolithic stereotype. But those who have been in or around the military know better. There is perhaps no greater picture of thought diversity than the U.S. military – and ‘Why We Write’ displays this perfectly.
If you didn’t pick up ‘Why We Write’ and read with us this month, you still have time. (We’re in semi-quarantine, after all – all you have is time!) You won’t regret it.
Next Up: LIFT
We’re going to keep reading here at ClearanceJobs, and our next book club selection is LIFT – innovation lessons from flying machines that almost worked, written by Dan Ward. We know about the history of the airplane, but mostly from the historic flights of the Wright Brothers – what about the failures that took place first? Those stories of failure from the 1800s are accompanied by related stories from the modern era. If you’re feeling discouraged about a lack of progress or feeling the pains of jumping into telework feet first and with little warning – this is a great time to learn the lessons in LIFT.
The first 15 people to email firstname.lastname@example.org will get a free copy of the book. Join us – leaders are readers!