All writers must be good listeners.
They must listen to the other without interrupting, without imposing themselves, without guiding the other’s train of thought.
Later, they cannot tell. They cannot tell the specific stories of others.
Yet, tell they must.
When they tell the stories, those stories must undergo a transformation and be unrecognizable.
The reader must find every person in the one person’s story and no one person in any story.
All good writers have to be selfless.
Their personality cannot interfere with nor interrupt the train of thought of the other. There is nothing so sacrilegious as to interrupt the other’s story and nothing so terrible as to be judgemental.
Being judgemental is imposition and imposition will surely squeeze out the other’s story.
All writers have to have empathy.
They have to be able to put themselves in the other’s shoes and feel what they feel, fear what they fear, be moved by what they are moved by.
Unless one can lose oneself in another person’s thoughts, one can never be a storyteller.
And yet, one cannot lose oneself completely.
For after listening, when one comes back from the other person’s life one has to find one’s own.
One’s own life. One’s own self. One’s own story.
For it is the writer who writes the other’s life.
There are those who cannot lose themselves. They cannot write.
And there are those who get lost completely in the other. They only know how to lose themselves and forget how to come back.
These storytellers find out, the hard way, that it is the last stage, the coming back to one’s self from the other’s life, that is the hardest, the most difficult. That requires discipline, that requires resisting temptation, that requires detachment.
The losing is the easy part. The finding of the self most difficult.
And then, once one is back, to have found oneself, to remember the time one was lost in another’s life? To miss that freedom of selflessness, that lightness of being, that joy of not being held back, of being one with another, of being part of another’s story? To live with that loss?
To simply come back to the cage of words, of sentences, of paragraphs, of conventions? Of writing?
To have to live with all that?
That is the most difficult challenge of all.