Monday, April 26, 2010

"It is the responsibility of writers to listen to gossip and pass it on. It is the way all storytellers learn about life."
~Grace Paley

One of the benefits of working a side job as a writer is the constant exposure to people and their stories. My co-workers are people I'm not likely to meet outside of work, our lives run in such different directions, and business is so slow, that the workplace has become a "safe place" for many of them to gossip, share stories, and complain in ways that might be awkward among friends.

It's interesting how comforting distance can be. I've met people on buses, at shops, and at work who will gladly unburden their souls to a complete stranger - relationship advice is the most common. I've had older business women confess to affairs, a college-aged co-worker admit to a sudden, and short-lived marriage, a drug-dealer gush about his beloved pet rabbit, and a bus driver discuss his neighbor's infidelities. When we don't know the person personally, it's easy to view them as we view the priest in the confessional: symbolic, representational, standing in for the people we really need to speak to.


  1. Der Masha,
    good to read your quote from Grace Paley. What work do you do -- to allow you to participate in this necessary gossip?

    I think the new documentary "GRACE" will interest you - the amazing Grace Paley talks about her writing, teaching, and political activism. For info and to see a trailer:

  2. Thank you - I will look for the documentary!
    I discovered Grace Paley thanks to Kathleen Norris' book Dakota and have been slowly getting to know her better.
    Currently I work at a small cafe that allows me to enjoy necessary gossip, but some of my favorite confessions have taken place on long bus-rides with strangers.



  3. Dear, i believe every journey gives something to learn a beautiful things even life is journey where we find the people for happiness. take care. god bless you.