Haunted in a good way by Neil Gaiman's "make good art" speech - if you haven't listened to or read it yet, drop everything and watch it here - I was particularly struck by one part near the end.
In it, Mr. Gaiman eloquently refers to fear of exposure as being an indicator that creatively, you're finally on the right path. I couldn't agree more. I've struggled with being truthful and writing those stories that need to be told. And yet, the same hesitation is the same impetus that places my creative trajectory along the lines of nonfiction.
Nonfiction, creative nonfiction, and magic realism (with some historical creative nonfiction thrown in). The real world is a cornucopia of weird. I've been given the gift of a unique perspective; that is, I recognize weird when I see it (and I see it a lot). So, why squander it?
Coming to terms with the stories banging on the inside of my skull sometimes means going down dark paths. Dark paths, in my opinion, are better navigated if one has a guide or companion. Enter the fear of exposure at needing to write something so "truth will out."
After I carry around the burden of an untold tale long enough, the insomnia sets in. It's at that point that I realize okay, time to grab this sucker by the horns. The first thing I do is approach others who have had shared experiences... and get my head torn off as a result.
See, what I recently learned is this - most people don't want to divulge things unless they themselves volunteer to divulge them. Unfortunately, much like social networking, people in general only want to show the best, brightest and usually embellished aspects of themselves. This goes for self-deprecation as well. At the end of the day, though, it's important to employ the art of diplomacy first. Think of others first. No matter how compelling their story is, it's their story. You can ask permission citing anonymity and investigative journalism. It doesn't matter.
Much like social networking, where people generally display their brightest feathers AT you and it's annoying as hell? The first step in investigative journalism should be, "what's in it for them?" Because chances are if there isn't anything in it for potential interviewees you'll get shot down and accused of reopening old wounds.
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