Intro from Jay Allison: For seven weeks, students from all over the US (plus Canada and Australia) came to Woods Hole to immerse themselves in radio in the first ever Transom Story Workshop. They were led by Rob Rosenthal, with help from all of us at Transom, WCAI, and visiting friends—Ira Glass, John Barth, Kelly McEvers, and many others. They were beginners when they arrived, some with no experience at all, but they all left with completed radio pieces good enough for broadcast on our station and nationally. They lived and ate together. They worked on their stories until dawn. They actually looked different when they left, filled with new energy. They were a wonderful, coherent, lively group of people and we loved having them here on Cape Cod. Audiences are already benefitting from the stories they told. Take a look and listen.
When I arrived in Woods Hole I had no intention of doing a story about myself. But, a month later I was on Nantucket doing interviews for a different story. The ferry got there an hour before my first interview. I walked around, got lost, found my ancestor’s house from the mid-1700’s and then spent the rest of the day working on my original story. That night as I talked with my fellow students it became obvious that the experience of finding my ancestor, Silas Paddack, was more interesting than any of the tape I had gathered.
The next day I started logging tape from my original story. The tape wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. I started to think about my notes from earlier in the workshop: find someone in transition, do stories that you feel like you have to do, find a story with some sort of tension. I knew that these elements were all there for me, but I was still scared of doing this story about myself. I decided to do it after realizing that if I’d met someone in the same position who had recently left their faith and ended their marriage, and was just at that very moment starting to figure out where they fit in and how to connect with the world around them, I would want to be there with a microphone.
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With my first story at the Workshop, I ran into the problem of wishing I had tape that I didn’t have. For this story I had the opposite problem. I could make myself say whatever I wanted; I had 27 years worth of “tape” to draw from. I had to learn to get rid of parts of the story that I liked but weren’t necessary. Also, because a lot of this story was happening in the present tense, after a week of writing and researching, I still didn’t know how I was going to tie together the various threads or if there was going to be an ending. When I went back to Nantucket the second time I got extraordinarily lucky. I found out: 1) Silas Paddack’s family had lived in Nantucket for a hundred years, 2) Silas and his wife left all that behind and moved to Nova Scotia, and 3) they left the island on the very same day I happened to be out there researching. I felt like the idea of leaving was now strong enough in all of the threads that I could weave them in and out of each other and eventually bring them together at the end.