My blog-writing fingers feel rusty. My intense focus in one direction has meant the utter neglect of this other. I don't multi-task at all - not with writing. So stealing energy from this public forum - I've invested it wholehearted in a private (for now) endeavor: a new take on a very old subject - my next book.. Writing projects, like babes in utero, have their moment; they can neither be rushed nor ignored.
But this project is different; it has nothing in common with the eleven-year content of this website. Nor does it share or promote the Native Hawaiian cultural story of my earlier books: Grandmothers Whisper or The Return Voyage - except for their author. I am she. And so, I ask the permission, even at this early stage, to borrow this website to announce my intention for the next book. I do this in hopes that there are readers who will celebrate my continued writing in a decidedly different direction. 'Iokepa 'Imaikalani - husband and Native Hawaiian who is the personal and cultural force behind this website and this website's work - graciously invites my announcement.
GIRLS DON'T! Coming to Life in Vietnam has claimed its moment.
When I was in my early twenties - just a year out of college and with precisely that amount of experience in paid daily journalism - I sent myself to war. I justified the choice publicly with a degree of self-inflating logic. “It’s the best story around.” But there was so much more to it than that.
I was truly unable to write my story when I was fresh out of Vietnam and Cambodia in 1971; I was still much too much of it. I refused to write the story in my career-rich twenties, thirties or forties because I believed that the entire story of the war had been written well and fully by others. Only now do I have the distance to see that young woman, in all her chutzpah and her fears, all her certainty and her ignorance, all her empathy and blindness – with the distance to admire, enjoy, and pray for her.
Only now, has the Women’s March and #Me Too movement convinced me that there is a powerfully awakened audience for a story that is so much more than ancient history. That is, in fact, the very story that women live and relive while we try to imagine what is our piece of - and our place in - this world we inhabit. I write my memories, so that our daughters and our daughters’ daughters will recognize their history, be emboldened by it, and perhaps be comforted that we have never really been alone.
Journalist Elizabeth Becker jogged more than my nostalgia when she wrote in the New York Times last year. “News organizations weren’t sending women to cover the most important story of our generation. Instead, we had to find our own way to the battle zone. In Vietnam, we became the bridge between two eras: the pioneers of World War II and the women of the modern era, who by the 1991 Gulf War took it for granted that they could cover wars.”
It’s to that “bridge between two eras” that I write. I was that war correspondent at a most pivotal time in the larger women’s story. And maybe, at this exact moment in time, my story will reach across those troubled waters to generations of younger women (and men) who’ll be willing to hear (and hopefully, feel) what preceded their own advantages and struggles.