I started off writing (for radio) with a deliberately more simple style than I normally do. But you get into ideas or thoughts or questions that can’t be expressed that way. So I gradually sort of reintroduced a more complex style, and as far as I can tell, people can follow me. I think the lesson is just that you find something enough and write about it well enough, even radio audiences will follow you.
What it’s taught me is that there’s a lot more padding in your writing than you think there is (laughs). It’s like cutting the budget, when you think you’ve cut out all the fat and you can’t cut anymore. Well, you’ve got to cut some stuff. You find that maybe it doesn’t state things quite as fully as you’d like, but that’s been the challenge. It’s like a radio haiku, I suppose: Can you say something significant or worthwhile or stimulating or intriguing in three and a half minutes? And I think you can. I think the best radio people do that.
You can reach a conclusion about the nature of a place and you can write it and state it and it’s true, you feel that’s right and accurate and that you’ve got it. But if you keep saying that same thing to much, it turns false. It stops being true. I think that’s really the nature of truth—it’s constantly changing, and you’ve got to keep pursuing it. What I found out about the Cape 20 or 30 years ago and thought was true at the time, it’s not that it’s untrue—it’s not a lie—but it’s not sufficient anymore. I’ve changed, my understanding has changed, those questions I was asking then are not the ones that interest me now.
All I know is it all started with the love of this place. The analogy I like to use is that it’s like falling in love with a person. It can happen instantly or over time, but when it happens, you want to be with that person all the time. You also want to find out everything about them–everything is fascinating and interesting. That’s what happened to me living here. I realized that to write about it, impressions weren’t good enough. I had to actually try to understand how it worked. But it all starts with a personal experience, some aspect of living in this place that strikes me or makes an impression or raises questions. I don’t anticipate those. I never go out and take a walk with the idea of finding anything specific or having a particular experience. I’ve been to lucky to be able to keep that attitude, just go out and accept whatever the day hands me. Doing research will give me a certain understanding of facts about that experience. But I find, what I try to do in writing about it, is to be as true to the experience and I can be . . . You want to try to capture the essence and to somehow identify at the core what it is that makes you love this place or this person, which you know is impossible to do. But that’s the wonderful thing. Do you really want to fully understand someone you love? Well, maybe not, because then you might not be so interested in them. Fortunately, people and places don’t lend themselves to that final understanding.
Read more of our interview with Bob Finch in the 2012 Cape Cod Life Annual Guide.