It is a strange thing when you begin writing nonfiction when you’ve been writing fiction for six years, and probably more absurd when you find yourself sitting across from a man during an interview, and the interviewer is you.
I must tell you, readers (and I hope that you are all indeed readers), that this was indeed a moment in my life that I won’t ever forget. First of all, it was my first interview, for the first magazine article I’m ever going to write for publication. Yes, let me hear the applause and the congratulations. I believe that for any type of writer, your first opportunity to get published, even if it’s not what you’ve been working toward for most of your life (in my case, fiction), is pretty exhilarating. Us writers need to start somewhere, right? Right. But I went into the interview a bit apprehensively. No, it wasn’t nervousness. It was that I wasn’t sure if I was excited about it. I know, I know. My first chance at publication should be approached, no, run to, with fervor and beginner’s thrill. However, I prepared my questions with much less excitement than expected while working on my first real writing assignment.
It wasn’t until I walked through the doors of the nursing home and told the concierge that I was there to interview _________ with ________ Magazine, that I felt a certain strength and pride come over me. As I was led to the room that the interview would take place in, I was treated with respect. When I shook the interviewee’s hand, I suddenly felt empowered. When he began to tell me his story, I felt humbled and extremely intrigued. When he eagerly asked me when the story would be featured in the magazine, I felt proud. How curious it was to hear this man tell his story, and trust me to write it correctly and well! Now it’s in my hands. It’s my responsibility, and my desire, to tell it in a way that will highlight his courage and his ardor for life despite his setbacks.
Throughout my writing life, my priority has been to shape and mold characters that resemble real people with real problems. If you’ve read my “Poetics” post ( http://odetofiction.blogspot.com/2010/12/poetics.html ), you know that my reason for writing is to stir in the hearts of my readers and remind them of the tangibility of life. For years, I’ve teased my characters, pushed them to the edge, put them in the midst of tragedies, given them illnesses and relationship issues, so that readers would see them in the light of real life.
Now, I have been given the opportunity to write a real living human being’s story about facing the very situations that my characters have been facing for years, and I’m not afraid to tell you that it is quite refreshing! This switch from fiction to nonfiction is giving me the opportunity to realize that no matter what I write, each experience will shape me. I know that this piece will educate me and sharpen my skills to write better stories.
And that’s all I want, from any literary situation. To learn to be a better writer.