Tuesday, 3 January 2017
1917- What Will Tomorrow Bring?
2017 opens with a great deal of uncertainty. The fortunes and events of the previous year will continue to play out for better or worse while even the brightest among us are powerless to predict the outcome. Much the same can be said, presumably, at the start of any year; but the beginning of the new year a century ago must have seemed especially so.
Two and a half years of bloody war had already taken place, with no appreciable advantage to victory for either side. Monumental campaigns of the year now ending- at Verdun and the Somme on the Western Front- had failed to deliver a killing blow; the stagnant lines of entrenchment and fortification had shifted, wavered, but had not been stove in. Armies facing each other across these lines were in, more or less, the same places they had been a year ago. It had cost rather a lot in lives and the efforts of those still alive to wind up this way. Such a sense of futility as accompanies the First World War is come by quite honestly when viewed from this perspective.
None taking consideration of the year’s closing one hundred years ago could possess knowledge of what 1917 might deliver. These people, or at least those given to introspection, could only hope for something better, for something to bring about change, and at the base of human conceit, that they would remain alive through it. No one, then, could have any inkling or indication that the year about to unfold was destined to deliver astounding, momentous events which would not only effect the conduct and even the outcome of the war but would also set the tone of the remainder of the Twentieth Century and would shape the fate of the world for generations still uncounted.
In the present, 2017 will mark the centennial of these tremendous events which would unfold in 1917- America would join the war; French Armies would mutiny en masse, Russia would revolt. Canada in its own way would come of age on the battlefields of Vimy and Passchendaele and at home politically through the divisive legislation of conscription which would see women’s suffrage at the federal level for the first time in a calculated move to keep the Liberals in power and thus ensure the passage of the Military Service Act.
I’m inclined to wonder what relevance those epic events would have on the lives of ordinary people- those who might spare a thought to the grand scheme of things in the world when not pressed with more immediate concerns in the small part they might play within the times they were born to. As I feel far more adequately defined as a storyteller than a historian, there is very little I might be able to add in the analysis of the critical events of 1917.
No, what I can do- what I’ve found suits me best to do- is to continue to bring to the fore the types of stories I have been telling; that of ordinary folk participating in the most extraordinary of events. Telling these stories at the level of their perspective to understand the humanity within history is what I intend, leaving the larger notions of act and consequence on posterity of world events to more practised hands.
As far as other efforts of storytelling are concerned, I’m still selling self-published copies of my premier novel “Killing is a Sin” which is set in the trenches of the Western Front in 1917. While I am pursuing publication through an established house, I am also working on a follow-up book “A Century of Twenty-Four Hours” and will be arranging consignment sales and personal appearances at Chapters and Indigo retail locations in Ontario starting in Burlington this April.
Some praise I’ve received for “Killing is a Sin”:
“Really enjoyed the book, well done.”
“Damn, I think I spilled chili on a rare first edition; I'm enjoying it, couldn't stop reading during dinner.”
“I was fortunate enough to see this in manuscript. Good stuff. If you're interested in WWI Fiction give it a look.”