Here’s a little something new at The Nervous Breakdown about the inspiration behind the direction Writing Off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema has taken and my trip to Joplin, Missouri seven weeks after the tornado:

Curbside at the ruined high school, my fingers hesitate at the door handle.

“It’s okay,” my grandmother, sitting beside me, says, “everyone else has been taking pictures.”

With a big inhale, camera in my hands, I’m out on the street, then in the grass, in my wedge-heeled sandals, stepping over gnarled strips of metal.  I’m still holding my breath as I find the school in the camera’s lens, twisting to focus on its row of classrooms opened up like a smashed dollhouse.  My shirt hem flaps in the wake of the traffic, and I want to announce, “Really, I’m here to help.  It just doesn’t look like helping because I’m a writer and this is all I can do.”  With my finger fumbling over the camera buttons, I snap five blind shots, hurry back to the driver’s side, and exhale behind the wheel.

Maybe I’m the worst person to do what I’m doing because I’m having trouble taking a simple picture to show you what I’m doing it for.  I’m having trouble even telling you what I’m doing.  I’ve started this story at least eight different times so far, and none of them began here.

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