The man with a story to tell

9 Jul

I’ve been doing that thing so many people say they might do ‘one day’ or would like to try ‘one day’ and decided my ‘one day’ had come. I’ve started writing a book. I decided while I had some time I’d get the story idea I’d had in my head, down on paper (or on screen anyway) and see how it went. So, over sixty thousand words in, it is going fairly well and I have been thoroughly enjoying getting the creative juices flowing again. It’s not necessarily very good, but it has been a really interesting and challenging process at times, and if nothing comes of it, well, at least, I’ll still be able to say I wrote that novel!

So it was, after hearing about this ‘book’, that our next door neighbour popped round after seeing an advert in our local gazette for a freelance writer. She thought I’d be interested. I’m not sure I can call myself ‘a writer’ quite yet but I had nothing to lose so gave the man a call. His name is Stan and he said he had ‘a story to tell’ and wants help writing it.

We arranged to meet up and James decided it may not be the wisest idea to meet a strange man alone, so he would go and have a coffee in the same coffee shop, from a distance. I think having been pent up in the house with a bad knee for nearly two weeks has got to him because ‘Meet Stan’ suddenly became not just an excuse to leave the house, but a chance to pretend he was on a covert operation. The baseball cap and sunglasses were donned and our modern-day Inspector Clouseau trailed me (or rather, limped slowly behind) to the coffee shop, from where he could keep an eye on Stan, the potentially dangerous retiree, roaming around Rose Bay.

I was intrigued if nothing else. I was fully prepared that Stan may just be an elderly man who had grown a prize-winning cauliflower and wanted to tell the world. On the other hand, there was every chance he was some former Mossad agent who wanted to reveal all so I went with an open mind. As it happened, Stan lay somewhere between the two! He wants to get his life story written down from early childhood in Croatia under Tito to staying in refugee camps, hitchhiking across European borders until finally arriving in Australia. There is a lot in between as well, the people he met and the experiences he had. In many ways, I think everyone has a ‘story’ but Stan wants to get his down, whether for future publication or just as a record for future generations, who are now so far removed from his past and where he came from.

He has asked me to write it for him and this is the next challenge I face as ‘a writer’. I am looking forward to the process as it will involve using aspects of journalism, which were the reason I went into that job in the first place: meeting people and hearing their stories. I will be interviewing him and then writing his story. We shall see where it leads, but whatever happens, I am sure it will be just as interesting and informative for me, as it will prove nostalgic and hopefully satisfying for Stan.


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