Cynthia Gorney la Bucureşti via The Power of Storytelling (proiect Decât o Revistă).

Invitatul săptămânii

Am stat un pic şi ne-am gândit, când am primit mailul de la Cynthia, dacă să-i traducem răspunsurile sau nu. Şi fiindcă nu suntem mari traducători – iar voi sunteţi copii deştepţi, cu toţii, buni vorbitori de limbă engleză -, ne-am hotărât să nu pierdem, odată cu traducerea, nuanţele pe care Cynthia le-a fixat, pe ici pe colo. Aşa că iată mai jos interviul pe care i l-am luat pentru Fishington, în limba engleză. Pe care l-am structurat pe baza celor 10 întrebări pe care profa de jurnalism de la Berkeley le pune în faţa studenţilor, atunci când au de scris un material. Cynthia Gorney aşadar, profesoară de jurnalism, corespondent New York Times şi National Geographic, cu ceva premii serioase în jurnalismul mare de peste ocean. Pentru amatorii de narrative journalism, două dintre cele mai premiate texte ale Cynthiei: CUBA şi Child Brides.
Cynthia Gorney_Brides

Greetings from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States of America, where October–in the Bay Area, that is–is the most beautiful month, less inclined to our gray matter (fog and rain) and instead full of Mediterranean sunlight and midday warmth.  Having been skewered by my own questions list, the 10 self-inquiries I recommended writers engage in before trying to pitch their stories to editors, I respond to Tranca as follows:.

1. What’s your story with storytelling in Bucharest, Cynthia?
The fabulous Jacqui Banaszynski emailed me.  One always snaps to attention when Jacqui speaks, and in this case the message header was a particular zinger: “October in Romania?”  That’s about it.  (When I noted in my reply that she surely knows how to make an entrance, she answered back: “A gal’s gotta know how to write a good lead.”)    I learned in sequence about Cristian, about Decât O Revistă, about Jacqui’s enthusiasm over the group of wonderful writers you have gathered in Bucharest, and about this international conference you have assembled.  Saying yes was one of the easiest decisions I have made all year.

2. Why now?
1) Because I had never been to Romania (which turned out to be a marvelous surprise–you Romanians remind me of Cubans, as in passionate, articulate, warm, and still working out a Very Big Story as your country continues reinventing itself after a long period under one nationalist, dictatorial, deeply controversial leader.  Not that I am equating Fidel with N.C. But there is so much that I had not previously appreciated about the drama of the modern Romanian story.)
2) Because once met Cristian and saw the magazine, I was pretty much smitten.

3. What, out of what’s been done already, made you say “yes”?
See above.  The combo of Cristian, that magazine, and the desire for international input–all this was irrestible to someone who cares about both writing and the teaching of it.

4. What is your focus here, and who are the main characters that drove – or drive you – here?
The young, driven, vastly talented editorial staff, all willing to meet and talk with us in what for most of you is probably your third language, were inspiring!

5. What’s the action you’d like to mention first?
I am trying to decide whether your Wednesday late-afternoon Bucharest traffic constitutes action–or, perhaps, the physical absolute opposite thereof.   I like to advise my students to try to get into  cars with their subjects, as it’s a great way to combine intimate conversation with action.  In this case, though, I was so deeply impressed by the Bucharest traffic’s, how to put this, great immensity of hugeness and magnitude by an order of a zillion, that I seem to remember that even more vividly than my excellent conversation with Ioana and Stela, who were kind enough to meet me at the airport.  I was jet-lagged, to be sure, but I seem to recall watching small cars to either side of us basically drive up the sidewalk, proceed up and over the hood of our car, wedge themselves into a between-cars spot that had not previously existed, and then sit with their engines gunning, waiting for the next guys to repeat the act.
The real action of the conference, of course, was inside people’s brains. This is hard to write about but was interesting and compelling to see.  A whole auditorium of people, nearly all of them listening and responding in what for them was a second language, keen to devote a Saturday to techniques of good storytelling, interviewing, and expressions of voice.  I was delighted.

“Our biggest conflict is often with our own selves, our standard of perfection, our alarm… “

6. Where is the conflict that brought you all the way here?
Well, there are two.
1) Storytelling is HARD.  Our biggest conflict is often with our own selves, our standard of perfection, our alarm that we will never be able to find and tell the story as beautifully as it seems to be whispering itself inside our heads.   So gatherings of people who can all talk about the ways it is hard, who can reassure each other that it’s normal to find it so hard, and who can trade ideas about how to overcome–this is always a great thing, and more so when one is re-reminded that the challenges transcend language and culture.
2) Extended storytelling versus Twitter!  Where do we belong in the great, internet-fed riot of public noise?  This is the central question for anybody who likes to take a bit of time telling a story–to invite a reader (or listener) to sit down and contemplate for a while the subject matter at hand, rather than skipping over it on the way to a dozen other quick feeds of information.

7. Would you say you’ve had enough access to build a story?
Well, the main thing I will remember about this conference is the wonderful young journalists who participated, and who listened with such eagerness to the tales of our different experiences with storytelling.

8. What would be the sections of this story?
1) Traffic.  2) Romanian wine (who knew you make such good reds?  And I am from California, people) and all the lively conversation that flows along with it.  3) The insane palace of Corinthian columns and chandeliers from outer space–I speak of course of the Palace of Parliament, I think you call it–and the extraordinarily complicated facial expressions of the Romanians with me who were seeing it for the first time.  4) More Romanian wine, conversation, etc.  5) The thoughtful, provocative questions the Romanians asked me as I went through my versions of these questions.  6) The other speakers, and the cleverness of making one of them a singer. Fabulous!  7) The women behind me weeping at the close of Jacqui’s great sendoff talk–”a story did that!”  8)  So much goodbye Romanian wine that the plane flight home is a slightly sodden blur.

9. Any surprise?
Romania!  You all!  The terrific magazine!  (Did I mention the wine?)  In short: everything.

10. Again. What is your story, really, with storytelling in Bucharest?
It is an especially delightful thing to have one’s world expanded in places and ways one never anticipated.   I thank you all for lettting me come get to know you a bit .

With comradely regards,
Cynthia G.

PS pentru aceia dintre voi care vor s-o cunoască mai bine pe Cynthia, iată un filmuleţ în care povesteşte despre povestea ei legată de Cuba şi povestea scrisă pentru National Geographic despre ţara lui Fidel :)