Posts in the logbook “Wings On My Words” and the companion series of books reflect Tosh the writer as the formation leader, and the words I use to share with readers my fascination with aviation become my wingmen. They follow me wherever I go, attached to my wing as if on a rope.
As I launch into the world of my imagination and use words to express in fiction what I see, my aviator’s background is locked onto my wing in perfect formation. And like the wingmen I trusted with my life while flying tactical fighters, I need not look at those words to know they won’t fail me. Likewise, it is my job as the formation leader not to fail them.
Welcome to tales from the writer’s desk as I create flights of fancy, born in the heart and soul of a pilot, yet presented with the desire first and foremost to be a good storyteller. Reader entertainment and enjoyment of a “good read” are my goals. If you learn something you didn’t know in the process, or gain a better understanding of aviation and those who populate that world, then I will have succeeded beyond my expectations.
Seventeen years ago, with a laptop in my airline crew bag and way too many wasted hours of sit time on trips, I began writing the first of a planned series of four novels. The central idea behind each book was to write stories about the four stages of a pilot’s life: 1) I wish I could do that; 2) I am doing that; 3) I’m God’s gift to aviation, and; 4) I wish I could still do that.
Six months after starting the first novel I happened to be sitting in the airport in Houston waiting for a flight to Austin. Another pilot who called Austin home sat down and asked what I was working on. It turned out he had written a novel, which he said was currently being auctioned “with eight publishers bidding on it.” That sounded pretty good to me, and we began talking about the craft.
At one point he said something that really got my attention. “I’m sure you know that you have no chance if they don’t see evidence within the first ten pages that you have mastered the structural elements of modern fiction.”
I clearly remember trying very hard to appear as if I knew exactly what he was talking about. I never saw him again and have no idea if he ever published a novel. But his statement drove me to do some research and ultimately put me in the reference section at a bookstore.
The selection astonished me. I finally bought a couple, began reading about how to write novels, and soon realized I didn’t know very much. Many years and lots of books later, I can’t look back on that moment and compare my writer’s journey with the very different paths taken by many of my writer friends without thinking, “What if?”
Leaving that question for another time, my purpose here is to introduce this logbook as the place for writing about my personal exploration of the craft. But before I do, let me leave you with this thought about the wonder of it all.
We begin with ideas and images within us and use the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet to create words, put them into sentences, then paragraphs, scenes, and chapters, and finally end up with a novel. Given a miracle, we might actually publish it.
Readers begin with the results of our efforts and work backwards. And when what we wrote arrives at the final destination, are the ideas and images readers create for themselves anything like ours? Does it matter? Not to me, but that doesn’t make the question any less intriguing.
In this logbook, I’m not trying to speak from a lectern or convince readers of anything. This is the place to do nothing more than discuss the journey I have been, and will be, taking while sitting at a desk.
And isn’t that part of the magic?