Sunday, February 6, 2011
Tell Your Story
The hundreds of interviews I’ve done during the past 20 years has convinced me of this.
Some are endearing, funny or captivating. Others are tragic, those that seem to wound your soul in hearing them shared.
And with many interviews I’ve done – in my years as a newspaper reporter and, later, as a communications staffer for several non-profits – the best story was not the one I initially pursued.
It was the one, rather, that presented itself during informal questioning and discussion.
Like the gentleman who made beautifully handcrafted hunting knives. His hobby - which he was trying to expand into a business - led me to interview him. The real story was so much richer and more meaningful.
He was a Vietnam veteran still struggling, many years later, with the horrors he witnessed during his time in country. He lived in a small, rural Maine town, in a remote spot that would have been difficult to find without directions.
He chose that spot purposely, he told me. It gave him the seclusion he needed to live with the demons that haunted him. An artist not by training but by nature, he designed and built his knives as a therapeutic outlet that gave him a sense of serenity.
Each one was unique and a fantastic work of art - intended for daily use but perhaps better suited for display in a shadowbox.
I would have never known his back story without taking the time to ask a few questions that went beyond the scope of my scheduled appointment. And I'm so glad I did - for both of us.
Pine Tree Camp in Rome, Maine - a program that provides a traditional summer camping experience for children and adults with disabilities.
It is a long-form non-fiction novel that I've dabbled on for the past 20 years. I hope someday it will see the light of publication.
If it doesn't, though, at least I know I've recorded my experiences for my family and friends to reflect on.
The time may be right for you to tell your own story - in a letter, a journal, a blog post or an interview.
Do it for yourself or others. Capture it in writing, audio or video - whatever medium with which you feel most comfortable.
You and many others will be glad you did.