One of the things I love about writing nonfiction is the opportunity to connect with people, to have complete strangers open up to me. In other contexts, this might feel really uncomfortable, but the interview format sets us at ease. And what I’ve learned is this: everyone has a story. Everyone has something to teach.
Before Christmas, when I was writing a cover story about infertility—despite having been through it myself—I came to a new understanding of a beautiful truth: that suffering really is redemptive, if you allow it to be. There’s something about having your soul flayed open, the way it is with more or less unexplained infertility, that reshapes your whole life. I knew this already from my own experience, but hearing other people say it aloud stamped it into my consciousness in a new way. This insight I have carried with me into the new year, already ¼ past.
Yesterday, I did a phone interview with a couple in an earlier time zone for an upcoming article. As we spoke about communication within marriage, as we talked about husbands’ and wives’ responsibilities to each other, about strategies for coping with uneven physical desire (very practical stuff, with a liberal seasoning of spirituality), I found myself applying the lessons to my own life.
You have to pick sources carefully—or so the conventional wisdom goes. You’ve got to find someone capable of articulating what it is you need to know. That’s a two-part requirement, and you’d think it would be hard to accomplish.
The more people I get to know through interviews, the more I realize that everyone has something to share. I just have to listen with my heart, and ask the right questions. And the best part is, when I succeed, it changes me.
So if I ever ask you to share your thoughts for an article, don’t sell yourself short, thinking you can’t possibly have anything useful to add. I know you do. And I know it’s going to make the world a better place–starting with me.