On April 2, at the Power of Narrative Conference in Boston, I will deliver a talk on External and Internal Landscape as it has to do with narrative journalism. Landscapes contains ideas and writings from the last decade of wandering, confusion, and questioning and, at times, anguish.
I became aware of the internal landscape in 2005 after I landed in El Salvador and, in an email to my mentor, Michael Powell I asked:
do you feel that your journalistic-writerly development has in any way tracked with your personal growth as a person??? is there any connection between who you are and what you see in the world?
The questions, although seemingly simplistic, were loaded and, over the years that followed, they developed nuance and contours as they became the focus of my life/writing life. For me, El Salvador seemed necessary as did the Sahara desert that followed and Mexico after that and the trips in between. And, as I explained in, “The War of Forgetting,” which appeared in Guernica magazine, I was incapable of writing about any of the places I had visited because I was learning to trust the internal landscape that gave meaning to the moments and stories.
To my mind, internal landscape is texture and the undercurrent that draws us to a story, it’s the story within the story that makes a compilation of fact, true in spirit. It’s the reason we are there and it works much like love.
And as love does, I was made to listen. And like love, internal landscape is a conduit for transcending simplistic and obvious answers and move beyond the superficial.
At the conference I will share my latest piece for the Oxford American magazine, “My Name is Alex” and excerpts from “Searching for La Perdida,” which is now available online along with examples from my students at UT-Austin.
If you plan to attend the conference, drop by. I look forward to meeting you.