I recently started contributing to the weekly column in The Carmel Pine Cone, Great Lives. It features a local person every week (local being, “hyperlocal:” Carmel, Carmel Valley, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey). It is typically a person over the age of 50 and tells their story.
It has been so fun and I feel it’s a privilege that I get to meet such interesting people around town and learn about their lives. If you want to read the column, you will have to click on the link above for the Pine Cone and look at the paper, the column is towards the end of the paper.
Not only have I found great joy in interviewing and then writing about these people, but also, I have made friends with many of my interviewees!
But the motivation for this post was a thought I had the other day…when I am writing about other people, I take it very seriously that this is their life, reputation, community and try my best to most accurately and positively depict their lives. This is not an irrational fear of libel, rather, I know how much it upsets me when people put words in my mouth or say things about me that are untrue and I would never want to make anyone else feel that way (plus, it’s simply wrong). So while I am writing my column, I always ensure that I give things a positive spin. I think, if this person was reading his or her story would they smile? Would they think I’ve captured who they are—a very difficult thing to do—with my words?
I recently read the book, If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by Heather Lende. It’s a book about the small town of Haines, Alaska. The author of the book writes the obituaries and social commentaries in the local paper. While this area is not nearly as small as Haines—nor is the weather as harsh—and while I do not write obituaries, I definitely relate to the spirit of the book. As a writer, I am allowed to ask very personal questions during interviews. People let me into their homes and trust me.
I value and honor that trust so dearly and hope to continue putting positive stories about the people in our lovely community out for people to access.