Learning Again

Some days, and today is one of them, I ask myself what makes me think I can write.
I had the opportunity to put together a short piece for our local monthly magazine on community dinners sponsored by area churches. On Monday, I went to watch and interview a few volunteers and several of the guests. About half the guests are homeless, the others are working poor who struggle to put food on the table.
But here’s the thing. As much as I wanted to tell this story well, the words wouldn’t come. Without making too many excuses, I’ll say that having to turn it in Wednesday morning didn’t give me as much time as I wanted or needed to craft a strong essay.
But that wasn’t all of it.
I didn’t ask good questions or spend enough time observing. Later, when I read over my notes, I found few strong quotes to help tell the story.
Struggling, I realized that part of the problem was distance–my own from what I was trying to do.
Powerful storytelling means tapping into emotions, using a photographer’s lens, and not simply writing a chronology of events. I had forgotten.

My next story is a personality profile of an elderly woman who lives down the street. I want to find a way to tell her complicated, lovely story and do it well.

She deserves that.