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V2-OMG!
9th Jan 2009, 04:40
....besides screwing around on JB, believe it or not I do like to pen the more serious aviation-related article or story. I thought of posting this in the history and nostalgia forum, but JB has a higher readership, and I would appreciate all the input and help I can get.

What I would like to do is compile all my pieces into a book and donate the proceeds of sale to a flight museum which desperately needs a bigger hangar for all their aircraft.

Anyway, if you would be so kind to read and give me an opinion on how I could make these stories better, you would be helping me in accomplishing the goal of putting a roof over all the museum aircraft which are the inspiration for my writing.

Thank-you so much.


A Bent Propeller - Death in the Sheep Shed
copyright by V2

Sometime during WW2 a heavy bomber crashed during a training flight off the coast of Canada.

For years the bomber lay at the bottom of an shallow bay until it was raised and broken up for scrap. A few pieces - the instrument panel, nose turret and a bent propeller were rescued from the scrap yard by a group of warplane enthusiasts. The bent propeller, along with some bits and pieces of other aircraft are now being stored in my vacant sheep shed, pending display at a museum.

The saddest collection in any flight museum are those fragments of military aircraft. Artifacts from World War I are rarer than those from World War II. Few survived the "Great War." The life expectancy of a World War I pilot was just six weeks.

Far more aircraft were produced during World War II. The designers and manufacturers were pressured into producing quantity and superiority over the enemy. A plane that could fly faster, higher, and carry a heavier payload of bombs. Unfortunately, in this rush to get young men and their planes off to war, many design flaws were overlooked. In the case of the early Halifax bombers, a serious design fault in the tail section would put the bomber into a deadly spin if all engine power was lost on one wing. Flight crews were often put into peril without ever seeing conflict. Sad to say, they were expendable.

I am reminded of this every time I go into my shed and see that bent propeller. How ironic that this remnant now sits in a place once occupied by sheep. It reminds me of a quote by Saavedra: War eats up all things, both the young lamb and old sheep. It values a prince no more than a clown; it cuts down the green grass as well as the ripe corn, neither squeamish nor queasy-stomach’d, for war swallows without chewing, and crams down all things into his ungracious maw. And tho’ you can see no belly, it thirsts after men’s lives, which is guggled down like mother’s milk.

Lest we ever forget those who gave so much.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Richo77
9th Jan 2009, 05:18
Okay V2, im hoping constructive criticism will be received in the fashion it is given.

To being a story with "sometime" and describe a "WW2 heavy bomber" crashing "somewhere off the canadian coast" its far to indescript to draw a reader in if you like. Its a bit like 'once upon a time' to me.

Readers are more likely to react to something they can relate to. Information on the aircraft, its mission (i know it was a training flight) etc would read better. Perhaps something like (and bear in mind i am no writer), During the winter of 1942 over the coastline of Newfoundland a 19XX de havilland (or what you will), crashed into the sea...etc etc.

Further you speak later of loss of life and the cruel nature of war but make no reference to how many lives were lost in the crash. I think this detail would also help.

Why is it ironic that this propeller now sits in a sheep shed? There is no previous reference to sheep or how they relate to war (though they are mentioned in your quote). Irony i believe; should always be related first if you follow me. How you heard about it and acquired the prop would also be good inclusions.

Plus (ain't i the critic?) i would lose the quote from Saavedra, it just reads as cliche city to me. Also, i assume the Saavedra you refer to (i am familiar with neither Saavedra or the quote) is the adopted name of Miguel Cervantes, i would blend that in. Unless of course Saavedra is well known and i am the ignorant one (most likely).

Finally, and i only mention this because i am currently reading a selection of short stories, this is way too short to qualify as same. It is more of a note.

Please bear in mind i'm just giving you my humble and very honest (i never pull my punches) opinion. I applaud your goals and salute you for doing it, you are far braver than I.

Remember, opinions are like cowboy hats; every a-hole has one.

Richo

Loose rivets
9th Jan 2009, 05:39
That's a wonderful idea V2.

I think with this kind of work, its a case of 'just do it', don't fluff around like I do trying to hone and re-hone the text. The subject matter of your piece is what's important.

There were a lot of Saavedras, perhaps it might be wise to credit Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (if I'm not mistaken) Just little things like that.

The poignancy of certain material objects might seem to require huge emphasis, but often the pain...the total despair associated with a material object can't be described, and it has to be left to the needs of the reader to feel the emotion. All you have to do is trigger it.

All in all I think its a good project, I wish I'd thought of something like that years ago.

(I'm off for a rice pudding.:ooh:)

Loose rivets
9th Jan 2009, 06:11
Richo came in while I was penning my reply.


What we don't know is how many 'notes' you would combine to form this book. It would help to see the bigger picture.

I don't see any problems with forming a group of small essays into such a work. I have reaped a certain solace from a little publication from my home town in Essex. It was put together to raise funds for the underpinning of our church, and was written by many of my old school contemporaries...just a hotch-potch of memories and essays. Last summer, nothing could have been more pleasing and indeed comforting to me than that little book, while I was being subject to all sorts of bizarre procedures involving radioactive materials:ooh: There were pictures however, (one being worth a thousand words as they say) and despite this putting up production costs it really is worth the effort, especially where aircraft are concerned. We're only talking low-def black and white, no real challenge to a small printer.

Thinking about emotive subjects...have you by any chance read Anne Michaels' Fugitive Pieces? Stunning. A poet, this was her first novel. Despite it being very small for a novel, the reviews were much the same. "I'm not sure it isn't a great work." Sunday times.

Nothing I've ever read says more...again and again, and done in the simplest of sentences.

Amazon.com: Fugitive Pieces: A Novel: Anne Michaels: Books (http://www.amazon.com/Fugitive-Pieces-Novel-Anne-Michaels/dp/0679776591)

I'll be interested to see how the thread progresses.

RaraAvis
9th Jan 2009, 09:57
A Bent Propeller - Death in the Sheep Shed
An interesting choice for a title, however, reading this, some unenlightened minds could envision a gory picture of an eccentric Welshman and his unfortunate sheep called Propeller.:suspect::bored::ooh:

Blacksheep
9th Jan 2009, 13:23
My Dad collected reminiscences of fellow crew members from his ship and kept them in a box. There's hundreds of them and the box is now mine. I found that by putting them all into rough chronological order, I get 70 A4 pages that tell the story of one warship's crew in a way that no individual author ever could.

My advice would be to try and collect as many reminiscences of old bomber crews as you can and let them tell the story for you. There's a good starting point on the Mil Aircrew forum - Gaining a Pilot's Wings during WW2.

V2-OMG!
9th Jan 2009, 17:44
Richo, please don't feel like you have to apologize for yourself. I really appreciate the critiquing. How can one improve w/o it?

When I first penned this, I wasn't exactly sure of the exact model/make of the heavy bomber, so that is why I was vague in the opening. I agree --
detail interests the reader. I will be more precise in the rewrite. I do not like the opening - it is weak - will work on it for sure.

Thankfully, there were no lives lost in this crash - I should detail that somewhere too.

And yes, the quote is attributed to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
I do use a fair amount of quoting in my work because it emboldens the metaphor; I am big on the metaphor, especially the metaphor of flight. That is why I am a passionate supporter of various flight museums; every one of those civilian and military a/c is entwined with a million stories involving the nobler human attributes. Writing a typical article for today's flying magazines - something like "How to Fast Track Your Way Into the Left Seat" does not interest me in the least. As they say write what you know. I do not profess to be an aviation expert. The most important things in life will always be back on the ground.

You are working on some short stories? Wonderful! I have not tackled much fiction - prefer the genre of creative non-fiction and essay writing.

I would love to hear about your work. I love to write -
and talk about writing!

V2-OMG!
9th Jan 2009, 17:54
Loose Rivets, (neat hande!)
Very interesting perspective. My writing mentor also has a "just sit down and write" attitude, but one must never under-estimate the sophistication of the reader. As Richo pointed out, lack of detail bores the reader, but too much is also tedious.

I love what you wrote here: "The poignancy of certain material objects might seem to require huge emphasis, but often the pain...the total despair associated with a material object can't be described, and it has to be left to the needs of the reader to feel the emotion. All you have to do is trigger it."
That is a wonderful observation. I am going to take it to my next writing class and read it aloud. Emotive writing is always about the essences -
not the things themselves.

V2-OMG!
9th Jan 2009, 18:01
Loose Rivets, thanks for being interested and the link too. I will look into it. I don't think I am familiar with Anne Michaels - but may have read her work somewhere. If I have, I will recognize it.

Your collection of essays for your church enhancement is admirable, and how wonderful - that you gleaned so much satisfaction from your effort.

V2-OMG!
9th Jan 2009, 18:08
Blacksheep, you are fortunate to have all those reminiscences stored in your box, just waiting to be retold someday.
Unfortunately, those veterans from WW2 are becoming a rarity. The older volunteers at the museum tell me they used to get quite a few who would amble through the museum, lost in their thoughts and memories. I wish I started this twenty years earlier, but my writing was very primitive then, to say the least. One of the volunteers did give me a book called "Boys, Bombs and Brussels Sprouts" which is the account of a RAF pilot in England during WW2.

Foss
9th Jan 2009, 18:29
Thankfully, there were no lives lost in this crash - I should detail that somewhere too.
Probably the title would be a start V2.

Artifacts from World War I are rarer than those from World War II. Few survived the "Great War." The life expectancy of a World War I pilot was just six weeks.

Well, why not branch out a bit and explain why. Terrible planes, poor training?

Far more aircraft were produced during World War II.
How many? Where? The US produced 158,944 Cadillacs in 2,000.
Where there more aircraft produced in Canada during the war? Something people can relate to. 'Imagine if every twentieth car you seen on the road today was a plane, that was the height of aircraft production during the war.'

V2-OMG!
9th Jan 2009, 18:42
Probably the title would be a start V2.

Foss, my title is a reference to those essences again. The propeller in the sheep shed is only symbolic - a metaphoric monument to those who have died - not that particular crash. Do you see what I'm trying to get at now?

I agree, this essay could benefit from more detail, but the challenge is to do that without vulgarizing those essences.

corsair
9th Jan 2009, 19:31
I would agree with Richo. The first part of the story should draw in the reader. Set the scene, try and place the reader on the Halifax that night. If possible name the crew. Try and emphasise things like the youth of the crew, the danger the fear. Set the human dimension early. A bomber is just a metal object. A little bit of artistic licence does no harm. I'm not a writer (as you may notice) but I know what I like to read.

Other than that, it's an excellent idea. I find it interesting that all too often it is these days. It's women who are best at expressing the emotional aspects of flight. Most male pilots prefer to emphasise flying as a career or a chance to be in control of a complex machine and virtually deny any emotional impact or motive. It's left to the women to express it. Not surprising really. But in the past it wasn't so, St Ex for one, Richard Bach another. Currently Martha Lunken in Flying magazine has developed quite a following with her folksy articles.

Like you I'm not that interested in many of the overly technical articles in many magazines. I read them because it's my job but I like the personal stories more. The poignant stories. The stories that remind me why I fly. Here in PPRuNe it's almost absent. I have suggested a forum for flying stories or hangar talk before. No one is listening.

Of all the flying, I did last year. I'm far less interested in how many hours I did or the money I made or didn't make. My best memories were of times when it all clicked. The Sun setting below an undercast, setting fire to it. Descending to another cloud base and weaving in and out of dense white hills and valleys, like low flying in the Antarctic without the dangers. Another pilot turning to me and saying 'Look at that, and we're getting paid for this'. A woman wouldn't have mentioned the money.

So go for it. We need people like you to make flying more than the commercial operation that it's become.

Foss
9th Jan 2009, 20:06
Ok V2.
Fair enough.
Well what about broken chronology. Flashback.
'I've got a propller in my sheep shed, it's been there since I was a kid, I've heard stories round the dinner table but never really looked into it too much, it was just a propeller, it has always been there.'
Would these guys have been writing to their folks?

Hey mom,
we're actually flying, I'm not allowed to say where but it is really exciting. The guys are really good, we're all doing well, say hi to Dad. I'll write soon. Send some more cake.'

You could then flick back and forward between letters, technical historical stuff, and your own investigation.
Sound good?

Davaar
9th Jan 2009, 23:58
A Bent Propeller - Death in the Sheep Shed


Or maybe: "They got the chop".

Look, I'm sorry.

V2-OMG!
10th Jan 2009, 00:09
corsair, you may not think of yourself as a "writer," but when you wrote,
Set the scene, try and place the reader on the Halifax that night. If possible name the crew. Try and emphasise things like the youth of the crew, the danger the fear. Set the human dimension early....
you are sure thinking like one.

This thread has given me a lot of inspiration to continue with my project.
I do believe that most pilots have the depth to at least appreciate what I am trying to achieve, but there are so many peripheral elements that distract them away from it, especially in this age of the glass c/pit, uncertain economic times - that "commercial" aspect you mentioned.

When you mentioned Antoine de St. Exupery, gawd how I love that man.
He is the inspiration behind it all, really. Some of the contributions will entail a series of letters I have written to him. I would love to post them here, but I am a bit jaded after having some of my work plagiarized before publication.

The focus of my letters to St. Ex. is a meld of the past with the present.
The future technology of flight was something St. Ex. would have approached with caution because it would have been juxtaposed with a fear for humanity. Many of his writings are peppered with the endangerment of man's spiritual adventure. In one of his last letters, the profundity of his insight sure rattles the fuselage of one's soul. This was written shortly before he disappeared on a alleged recognizance flight:
"If I'm shot down, I won't regret anything. The future anthill appalls me, and I hate the robot virtues.

When will it be possible to say to those one loves that one loves them?"

V2-OMG!
10th Jan 2009, 00:16
Ok V2.
Fair enough.
Well what about broken chronology. Flashback.
'I've got a propller in my sheep shed, it's been there since I was a kid, I've heard stories round the dinner table but never really looked into it too much, it was just a propeller, it has always been there.'
Would these guys have been writing to their folks?

Hey mom,
we're actually flying, I'm not allowed to say where but it is really exciting. The guys are really good, we're all doing well, say hi to Dad. I'll write soon. Send some more cake.'

You could then flick back and forward between letters, technical historical stuff, and your own investigation.
Sound good?

Foss, that is a fantastic concept, and as I just wrote to corsair, I like the "letters to" idea. There is a risk however, in "flicking back and forward" - changing that POV (Point of View) as it has to be very clear or else it confuses and irritates the reader, especially in a project like this which is a compilation of many subjects vs. something like a novel which has one main plot line only.

V2-OMG!
10th Jan 2009, 00:28
Or maybe: "They got the chop".

Look, I'm sorry.

Davaar, you mean decapitated? I guess the title could be construed as something right out of Indiana Jones. That's an idea! Maybe I should ditch this and write the screenplay for the next film. How about "Indiana Jones and the Propeller of Doom Meets the Raiders of the Lost Flock?"

Better tell the costume designer to put velcro on Indiana's fly though because those dang sheep can hear a zipper a mile away.

And no need to apologize. I can always laugh at myself the hardest.

V2-OMG!
10th Jan 2009, 00:40
An interesting choice for a title, however, reading this, some unenlightened minds could envision a gory picture of an eccentric Welshman and his unfortunate sheep called Propeller.

RaraAvis, if you read my last, I was thinking of a different kind of "bent propeller." LOL!

Davaar
10th Jan 2009, 01:19
I can always laugh at myself the hardest.

Well, it was really a rotten pun on my part. In WW2 and in my own day ten years later there was a common euphemism for getting oneself killed, as in "Poor ol' Tom just got the chop" or sometimes as I recall "the heavy chop". Goodbye Tom. I thought it was not inapposite for a sheep shed.

A variant was "scrubbed", as in to get one's name scrubbed off the personnel list on a board, or off the course list. It is long ago now, but I rather think "scrubbed" did not always connote fatality so much as removal. "The chop", I always associate with finality.

Too much reflexion on either, of course, would inevitably lead to "the twitch" or "the Messerschmitt twitch" (and to be sure, I never once throughout the war or in the years after heard or saw that 109 referred to as a Bf 109; if was always an Me 109).

corsair
10th Jan 2009, 01:42
Thanks V2, maybe I could be a writer........I've been thinking of this novel, hmm the great Irish aviation novel ;) To be fair there is a book in everyone just not the capability to write it.

The St Ex quote is brilliant and quite on the mark. What he says has come true. But it's also fair to say it was inevitable. Early flyers were adventurers, dreamers, show offs. Early flying was scary and dangerous. It was said the Earhart was a poor pilot, which might explain her demise. But her sense of adventure overcame that. That couldn't continue, the left brainers have taken over. That's as it should be. It's a business now, commerce is all and safety is king. The adventurers are white water rafting and jumping out of the back of my aircraft on weekends.

I firmly believe that the written exams are there not so much to educate the tyro pilot into science of flying so much as to eliminate the seat of the pants flyers.

But there is a place for a little inspirational aviation writing. I think there is room for another St Ex. I read a book recently, 'Nine Lives' about a helicopter pilot flying with the Irish Coastguard search and rescue. Potentially fascinating. It was interesting but I felt it was a missed opportunity. I don't think he could decide whether he wanted to write an account of his adventures or to write about his life in general. As a result he lost me early. Too much musing on life and things, not nearly profound enough to hold your interest. Too domestic. He also took far too long to get to the whole rescue bit which after all is the real meat of the book. He also attempted to name everyone he ever met. He even had a chapter on his creative writing group. I struggled to finish it and won't be re-reading it.

That's what you must avoid. Good writing flows, a well written book or article becomes a kind of internal movie that touches you emotionally not a series of slides projected onto your jaded mind.

Anyway, what do I know. Good luck with it.

Richo77
11th Jan 2009, 22:29
Looks like you've got some good repsonses here V2. Think you may have misread mine however, im only reading some short stories, not writing them. Always liked writing and had an interest in it, but never been able to come up with original ideas. Although i have a movie script in my head currently made up of about 60 different snippets of ideas and scenes. They have no correlation nor do i think they would make any sense strung together.

cheers

R