When should this story begin? If I’m thinking like a writer, this is one of the first questions I ask. Starting too early just gives the reader backstory; it’s me telling the story to myself, but not me being a storyteller. And that’s how I think of myself–as someone capable of seeing the details in life that span countries, cities, and–most important to me–cultures. That is why I studied anthropology. That is why I wanted to be a journalist. To see and then to share. To witness and to document. But somewhere along my life things got fucked. I lost the courage to share.
Once, with a reporter pointing a microphone at me, my barely formed ideas morphed into hard core convictions that he was more than happy to amplify and exaggerate. That should have steered me away from a career in news. Seeing classmates at university who were hellbent on becoming television reporters because, well, what else are you going to do if you’re smart, pretty, and like to travel–and don’t want to take the LSATs or go for an MBA? should have driven me away, too. But no, it took having my dream job as a segment producer to make me see that working for network television was not where I belonged. The in-house politics and their out-of-touch sensibility toward viewers was too much of a shock to my system. I tried to find other work, but I no longer had the crazy kind of naive persistence that had served me so well at the start of my career. What I had gained was the ability to produce visual and auditory stories.
Those skills are incredibly valuable to me and they re tools that I want to make use of now.
So here is what I’m going to do. I’m starting the story today.