If Ye Break Faith

This blog is dedicated to the promotion of educating about the Canadian experience of World War One. To discover who we are as a nation in the 21st Century, we must understand our past.

Monday, 7 July 2014

We Will Remember Them

Many things have been keeping me from posting to this column in the past year, and in light of the time we are now facing, with the centenary of the war's start only weeks away, I've a lot to make up for.  But I've recently broken my arm- my dominant left one at that, so on top of all else writing is a struggle and typing a challenge.

It seems that the strong start I showed three years ago is still pulling in readership.  This space was started as a means of drawing attention to the notion I had of building a fitting tribute to the men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, particularly those who lost their lives in the First World War.  Through fits and starts, I've built a little on that initial concept, but am still a long way off from realizing that goal.

I have, I'll admit, been remiss about a number of things pertaining to this project.  First and foremost is that I have not, in all this time, had a clear and comprehensive notion of how exactly the goals of If Ye Break Faith will be realised or what shape the end result will take.  Many people have expressed their admiration for the idea, some have even expressed a willingness to help.  The problem, of course, is without a solid plan, nothing can move forward.

Part of the difficulty, as it has always been is fiscal.  I have not had the capital to devote any funds to develop or promote the project, but conversely, it would be pithy of me to solicit for financial support without resolving the issue of direction.  Nevertheless, in the years past I have taken some effort to promote IYBF through social media and while the results have been satisfying, they ring hollow when my ideas are incomplete and ill-formed, nor does it amount to much when my efforts in this promotion have been inconsistent and becoming less frequent.

a very early stage of this social promotion I came upon the idea of writing essays on various topics concerning the war.  The goal in this was to have fresh material for readers to become more familiar with the event from a century ago; hopefully to inform, educate and promote thought and discussion.  Mostly, these essays became place-holders until I could form a solid notion of how to move the project from vague concept to reality.  By and large these musings have been well received and I've even had the flattering privilege of institutions, educational and military, make use of some of my material.  At the same time, though, the production of these pieces has been inconsistent and grown more so to the point that I haven't written one in almost a year, despite having many more topics I would like to explore.  I have just completed a feature article on the inevitability of Britain's entry into the war and am shopping it to several major newspapers in Canada and the UK, so I'll let you know how that pans out, or run it here if it gets rejected elsewhere.

Now, there are a multitude of reasons why my output has slowed but the most prevalent reason being my own doubts of talent.  This, despite high praise from friends, family, even strangers and the prestige of being published by a distinguished university.  I've heard these doubts are not uncommon among writers, established as well as aspiring like myself.  What this uncertainty has done is compounded the problem of moving IYBF decisively forward and alienating the work I have done from a potential growing audience.

It is not, however, my own prestige as a writer that is of primary concern (but ego does play a part), it is that by initiating the idea of IYBF I have assumed the notion of being caretaker of these people's memories and to fail to follow through in this project is me failing them.  The irony of the project's title does not escape me in this.  These individuals must be remembered, especially as I have maintained, as individuals.  If I can not get over my own doubts, grow the audience and foremost make a firm decision on what form the final project will take, I will have failed.

In the last, and most important item, I have made a crucial decision.  Due to increasing popularity of user submitted content sites and considering the huge volume of work to e undertook, If Ye Break Faith will be developed as an online repository of user-generated content documenting these lives lost, with particular encouragement for student participation. Admittedly I am a long way off from developing this into a reality.  I don't possess the technical know-how and am still in need of capital to build and promote such a website.

So, the next obstacle is the concurrent goals of growing awareness and generating funds.  To that end I have taken the essays currently published on the blog and some that have not been seen yet and reworked them into a book.  All I really need is to have the courage and self-belief to approach publishers with this work. Wish me luck!

 It is also my intention, going forward to pay much more attention to this space and the corresponding Twitter and Facebook pages.

(Chance, if you're reading this, be certain that Dad loves you and misses you, encourage your mother to get in touch.)

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