Writer’s Life: A Question of Balance

It’s a question of balance. Balancing your day job with your passion for writing and reading is hard. The day job is important. You need a regular paycheck and insurance. So unless you’re a Dean Koontz with a spouse who is willing to give you five years to make it with her working full-time to support you, you will need a day job.

Having a life is important. You need to divide enough time to keep yourself spiritually and physically fit. You need a sound body and a sound mind as you write. You need time for a spouse or whoever you are with in a relationship. Your spouse isn’t going to cook, clean and give sex on demand for you while you hibernate in your room or study reading and writing. You have to invest in time in your relationship.

Let’s face it, there are days when you are too tired or exhausted to write. There are other days where all you feel like is reading. The reading recharges your energy and is fodder for future writing.

You need to write regularly. Notice I used the word regularly, not daily. Why not daily? Because you will have some days you cannot write. If you are trying daily and miss a day you will feel guilty and may give up. If you just write one page a day for 25 out of 30 days in a month that is a 300 page book in just one year!

You can do it. You can find the time to write if it’s your passion. You can find the balance to do it. Go for it!

Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II

Phil Nordyke’s “Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II” is an excellent. It is must reading for any student of World War II. Mr. Nordyke does an great job as he takes us with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) from its beginnings and training in the United States, through its deployment to North Africa, and through its campaigns in Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Holland, the Bulge, and Germany before returning home.

The book takes it title from the 505 PIR’s record four combat jumps in Sicily, Salerno/Naples, Ste Mere Eglise/Normandy, and Nijmegen/Holland. Stars representing participation in combat jumps had been worn unofficially on parachute wings during and after World War II. FYI – this practice did not gain official sanction until after the 1983 invasion of Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury.

I took about six weeks to read the book. I found it a book that that demanded I read every word on every page. Be prepared for some very graphic descriptions of the training and combat. You’ll feel the heat of north Africa. I was disappointed as I read the Hermann Goring Fallschrim Panzer and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were on Sicily, that General Bradley knew it, and because of secrecy of Ultra they did not pass this information on to the attacking forces! “This was a cruel deception of our own forces, but necessary in order to protect the secrets of Ultra.”

Mr. Nordyke does an excellent job of using primary sources. At first I was a little confused when I encountered an incident that was described from multiple persons points of view, but quickly saw the value in seeing the way more than one person viewed/remembered an incident. It helped paint a more complete picture. Pages 300 – 301 and the actions of Private Camille E. Gagne’s response to the killing of First Lieutenant John Dodd is one example. The coverage giving to the 505th’s role in Nijmegen/Holland is very detailed and had me feeling I was were there.

The 505th PIR’s involvement didn’t stop after it’s fourth jump into Nijmegen/Holland. They played a key role being deployed by truck into Belgium’s Ardennes Forest as the 82 Airborne Divisions helped stop Hitler’s in The Battle of the Bulge in freezing December 1944 and January 1945.

The book has exceptional maps and an amazing index. This book should be required reading for active duty members wearing jump wings. It is a must addition to any military historian’s library and would be an excellent addition for all university and community libraries.