The thing about identity is, people are always trying to define who you are for you, to tell you what you mean. And we should be interrogating our positions in society, our privilege relative to our oppression, but we should also be skeptical of those who insist we are definitively one thing or another.
The Fall offers storytelling lessons valuable to all writers and artists, which is one reason I’m repeatedly drawn to its magic and wonder.
Any writer who takes Henry James’s advice seriously, “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost,” will end up, sooner or later, looking for the hidden story—hidden because nobody was listening for it, and because the water is rising, and because there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Even if they don’t, even if our stories are met with apathy, with disdain, I believe our enduring anger and our passion require them. These stories sustain my activism because they make concrete the issues that, for me, have always had a certain looming intangibility to them. Scripts are not enough, and they were never meant to be enough. The best thing my scripts ever did was open up a channel to the people in my community. To force me to ask the questions that I had never thought to ask.
On September 30, I received an email from my neighbor that our apartment building had caught on fire.