So my youngest son is a history major, and I've learned about all number of small wars I'd never heard about and large wars in times long gone. While reading his papers, I've been in Korea, China, Europe, and as of yesterday, French Algeria. I haven't paid much attention to Algeria, ever, except in how it relates to culture references such as Casablanca. I have nothing against Algeria, I'm just not there much in my imagination, and I can tell you that I'm glad I wasn't there between 1954 and 1961 or so. Times were tough on some of these Algerians. The French, well, there weren't the French of my pining imagination. More like Americans, or more like other colonizing nations. A bad story, Algeria of that time, a tale of terrorist like attacks, refugees, starvation, and bad health care.
History is like a novel that doesn't change except in terms of how the facts are analyzed. History is the plot and then we do our voodoo on it, trying to figure out why and how it happened. Writing about history is like any kind of writing based on a narrative, but the facts can't be tweaked--just the view of them.
The good news for the world is that I don't write about history. Me, well, I'd create a nicer French government. In fact, all of Africa would be a happier place between 1954-1961. Gone are the colonizing countries. Poof! Gone is the country in and out fighting. In fact, it would be a African pastoral, a happy, Edenic tale of our first stomping grounds. animals and humans and good weather. Everyone else would stay in their own nations, and there would be more happiness all around.
What would we all write about if that was history, though? We'd probably make up stories that would rival the truth that never happened, giving everything conflict, climax, and denouement. We like that triangle, whether real or imagined.
Oh, well. Back to looking at my son's essay. The story has stayed the same no matter how often I read through it, but the writing gets better!
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org