What Materials and Resources Are Used?
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In this chapter, the materials and resources which authors use in writing military memoirs are investigated. Here, we evaluate the roles played by different documentary and image sources—everything from personal diaries, letters and photographs to official documentation and public resources. We consider the use of these resources in terms of how they enable the memory work which authors undertake at the point of writing about past events, and consider how this memory work may (or may not) accommodate other formally documented or informally-shared accounts during the writing process. We also consider the resources that authors use, both knowingly and unconsciously, in learning how to write in the first place, an idea we term ‘military literacy’. A great many published memoirists have either very limited formal education or education in subjects where the development of creative writing skills is limited or non-existent. Yet, somehow, published memoirists have learned how to write. We use these insights to develop an argument about military literacy which we see as providing a more nuanced explanation of the capabilities of memoirists as writers than is often assumed. We observe that the reading and writing skills that the armed forces develop in their personnel, for reasons of operational effectiveness, have unanticipated consequences.