My attempts at a story for the Your Choice assignment took many twists and turns. It started with an ad for a hoarding support group on a billboard in Provincetown. I thought it would be interesting to get in touch with people struggling with hoarding and ask them about what it’s like. Possibly get multiple age groups, backgrounds. Maybe even talk to the authors of the book the group was structured around for some expert opinions.
Unfortunately, the group was closed to outsiders, and it turns out that people going through this can be very distrustful of reporters (understandably so). But I did get ahold of Maryanne, who organized Clutterers Anonymous (CLA) meetings on the Cape, and who has dealt with hoarding herself. Initially I thought Maryanne could connect me to other people. I had a great interview with her.
During our conversation, she mentioned the Treasure Chest, a swap shop in Harwich where many people donate and/or pickup items for free. She said that some people have been known to abuse the generous intentions. I began thinking about a story centered on the Treasure Chest and difficulties arising from doing things for free. A volunteer said there was talk about shutting the Chest down. It sounded like some good conflict, and I was pumped about this new direction.
But it turned out that rumors of a shutdown were greatly exaggerated and though I spent a day at the Chest and taped a council meeting, there was no real conflict to be found. Time was running out to get a rough draft of my story in.
In class, we talked about going back to Maryanne. Even though the story of her addiction was mostly in the past, that didn’t mean I couldn’t tell the story. I started to think more creatively about what I already had . . . how to frame it, what else I would need to get to paint the full picture. My journey to find a story came full circle and I revisited Maryanne.
All of this is to say that I learned an important lesson in doing this project: stories can fall apart very quickly, and very often do. But that doesn’t mean that the time spent on them was a waste. Take the time to entertain other angles and perspectives. Just because a situation didn’t turn out the way you imagined it, doesn’t mean there isn’t something good there. And tape that might not seem interesting sonically can still be very useful when putting the listener in the room. Good tape doesn’t always mean a great quote.
I’m really proud of how this piece turned out, and happy to have met Maryanne.
Matthew’s Sonic ID
In my search for a story, when I ended up spending the day at the Harwich Treasure Chest, I met Bob. It was immediately apparent that he was having a wonderful time, so I talked to him for a bit.