Friday, May 1, 2009

What is American Stories NOW?

It's a love letter. It's a diary. It's a song.

A taste of what's to come:

I began collecting and writing true-to-life short pieces--"sudden non-fiction," as I call them--in early spring 2009. I'd just finished writing my fourth novel, and done (at long last!) with my fable The Wedding of Anna F., wanted nothing more than to hear other people's stories again. No more imaginary characters for me. I needed to get back to living, breathing human beings. I picked up my laptop, packed up the dog and husband, and hit the road.

My only rules for this blog, and for the encounters that lie behind it, are that each piece should grow out of a natural conversation and connection with someone I meet as I travel this strange, wonderful country of ours, or go around roaming my own hometown . . . and that each story be short, be real, and be respectful. I talk to far more people than I write about, and I listen far more than I talk. Not every conversation is, needs to be, should be a story. Some people tell me things which are simply too private to share. Others don't even think they "have a story to tell." Many don't realize what interesting, quirky, moving, funny and deeply beautiful things are tumbling straight from their mouths. As I see it, one of our jobs as human beings is to catch these gems where they fall, then fling them up in the air again, where they can glisten for a second, unexpected time. This is how we share our joy, and our sorrows, with each other.

Throughout the summer, I'll be posting a new story here, every few days. I hope you'll enjoy the people and lives you discover here, including the inaugural tale, Emily's, below. I'm more than enjoying myself: to listen is never to keep the lighthouse alone.

Welcome to American Stories NOW.


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