Thursday, February 24, 2011

Do you keep in touch?

A bunch of us were just discussing whether anyone understood what Quora was. I said I'd been trying for several weeks to figure out whether or how I'd use it, but hadn't yet.

After our talk, though, I got on Quora and immediately found that someone had asked Susan Orlean a question 'How much do you keep in touch with subjects you write about?' -- and that she'd answered it. So Quora has given me a blog entry. One point for Quora.

Orlean's answer was that she doesn't (though she's more eloquent about it). I love her answer, and how she explained it, because I've always felt guilty that I didn't keep in touch with people I did in-depth stories on when I was reporting.

 We all know that journalists move on -- there's always another story, always something else to cover. But still, you try so hard to make a connection with someone, to get to know them on more than a superficial level, and then after you've written the story ... you move on. It feels simultaneously inevitable and unnatural.

  Some writers, I know, do keep those connections. With one exception, I never could. Can you? Have you? How do you do it?