A true professional would never say that he/she wanted to run away from his/her subject. But on my last day in Kesennuma, I visited a local museum that had a tsunami exhibit. It was one of the last things I did during my time in Tōhoku (the last was sit down for a re-interview that I thought would take fifteen minutes but ended up over an hour long.) The museum was, to say the least, difficult.
We’re supposed to be objective, unemotional, detached. Yet we’re are also supposed to remain human. I’m not sure how that’s possible.
One of the fundamental aspects of storytelling is the recognition of what makes us human. Loss, grief, love: these are just a few of the things that we connect with when we read a story, then pass it along. The best stories stay with us.
I suppose it helps to not have a personal connection if you want to remain objective. And in this case, the storyteller by necessity retreats. The story takes precedence. Nobody remembers the writer; everybody remembers the story.
I suppose that in my case — which is to say, the three stories I’m to write — I’m hoping for a happy medium; an even balance of story and teller. I want you to know that I’m invested. But I also want you to be able to look beyond the authenticity factor of my own experience and recognize something beyond the primacy of the narrator. I get it: it’s a tall order. But I am nothing if not aspirational, if not hopeful.
Here is where I say something smart. Where I reference my betters, or the type of story I aspire to write. But I have none of that for you this day, folks. All I’ve got is a personal story, researched to the extent possible given a working life, and a passion to get it done. I’m not sure that’s enough to go the distance. But in the next few months, you’ll be able to judge for yourselves. I hope you find that my words are equal to the task.