Tell the story, don’t be the story

One of those first Journalism 101 lessons we are taught is to be an observer, someone who objectively writes a story, presenting opposing sides without injecting themselves or their opinions.

For a self-absorbed newbie, it is very hard to do. So often they say they want to write features and columns, not the obituaries or the stories about neighborhood board meetings. My guess is that now blogging helps satisfy the id.

As I was riding the other morning, I had time to think about how I’m always the writer. I cover a story, I insert myself into a situation, I’m in a bubble that allows me to drop in, gather the information I need, and float out with a few good-byes, thank-yous, mahalos, and the reassurance that I can contact my sources should any questions arise.

Because I’m no longer writing for newspapers, I have some liberty in what I get to write. Instead of getting thrown into a crime scene or at a pile of documents about taxes or lemon laws, I choose what I want to cover. And often that would be something I enjoy, like swimming, ocean sports, bicycling, enjoying nature, cooking, purses.

But what I realized recently is that my place in this world will never be that of an insider. I’m considered the person stopping in to write a story, not a person who is expected, or even desired to stay.

I realized that with some sadness. There are things I’d love to keep doing, once I start thinking about them. I let the existing limitations prevent me from diving in completely, because I already know that I’ll be disappointed with how I’ll not quite be part of an inner circle.

On this side of 50, this part of me is growing up and understanding that I won’t get to be or do everything I want, but there is nothing stopping me from writing about the people who do, whether they are real or a figment of my imagination. Somehow, I’ll get the experience.