Nino Tarkhnishvili, 37, Tbilisi
„Being a reporter is a tough profession. Not only because it requires intellectual abilities and knowledge but because it demands different, sometimes “special”, physical abilities from women. For instance, it is useful if you can run well and do not get easily tired, because you never know the conditions you are going to work in to prepare a news report. Sometimes you may have to run, not because you are being chased or you are scared but because you have to chase after the story. It is also useful if you can move, breath, and, most importantly, work in a large mass of people concentrated in a small area. For example, at the rallies, there might be fight, a lot of pushing and you have to gather information, record people in the packed area. You need not just noise, but the voice, the words and you start to think how to escape this commotion, run away and “record the noise” with the microphone from afar, or stay in the center of the events where you might get hit with a rainbow flag pole (as it happened to my colleague), but still stay. Upon leaving your home, you never know where you will end up that day – in a polished hall, on the stairs of the building of the Parliament or in the countryside in the settlement of internally displaced people that has been flooded. I have not worn high heels for ages. A reporter chasing stories cannot be worrying about twisting an ankle. That is why we wear sneakers, the shoes with hard soles. My work is reporting in sneakers, thick-soled shoes, literally and figuratively, I call myself “a reporter treading on mud”.
Sometimes you can prepare a news story even without leaving office, but if you want the story to be authentic, with real voices, and live emotions, the emotions that will echo in the hearts of the listeners, then you have to go where the action is, where the fire is blazing. So what if you return “smoked”, so what if the emotion brought along remains overnight, you will be able to prepare a superb news story. It is equal to writing a good novel.
We do get tired. At times, we are exhausted to tears. You may feel like crying because you cannot meet the deadline, you cannot get the information, get in touch with the respondent, but your story must be aired at 6 p.m. and you have no time for tears. Sometimes, late at night, when I stagger home and slump on a couch I think “damn it, I could be doing something else. Why not quit running after people, gathering voices, then cutting and sewing and writing about them?!” But the morning comes and you realize that this is what you’re supposed to do, because the amount of energy this job takes away, it gives you back. It fills you with passion, this profession.
As for emotions… I am very emotional, I may worry about anything, may be affected by anything and empathize with someone else. Sometimes I think it is not good for a journalist to be so emotional. While working, you may have to deal with a thousand stories, a thousand people and a thousand misfortunes or hardships or even joys other people go through. That is why, a reporter needs to be able to let theses emotions flow by, like a conductor, needs to deflect these stories, write a news report and be done with it, but it is not always possible.
I wish I weren’t so emotional; things would be much easier then. However, my personality has actually helped me to start writing. You know, your listener does not care what emotional trauma you have sustained when you saw someone driven of their homes, or covered a story of a terrorist act or saw with your own eyes the open air traders crying over burnt goods or when you prepared news reports about murdered women… There are stories so destructive that I stay up late writing short stories and pouring all my emotions into them.
I guess this is why my short stories are often so bitter and sharp. The readers have often commented: “What the hell?!” “Appalling!” For instance, one ode about a murdered woman, where I used various epithets to describe the scene of violence, was described as “dreadful”. My answer is: “No, this is not dreadful. The fact is that it really happened is dreadful. I am often criticized that I don’t have a right to write so bitterly and be so stern, blunt, sharp, but I think that this is my literary mission – to stir controversy, discussion. I cannot create highly intellectual literature. I know one thing for sure, the reader can always tell when the author is honest and when the author is posing, coquetting. I think my short stories are sincere, heartfelt and that is why they are what they are. You know, I guess the literature written by journalists is like that. I think in our time and, generally, in every time, the primary mission of literature is to respond to ongoing events. That is why I am taken aback when my short stories receive indignant comments in the social network, like “I have no right to write this stuff.” I cannot be indifferent to the events surrounding me.
Whatever I write, I write the way I should be writing. It seems to me it resonates better with the readers. My short stories are about women, minorities, persons with disabilities and, of course, love. Love of your child or love of your man. Sometimes my short stories are directly linked to my private life and they think that whatever I write is about myself. I will never forget, when following the events of 17 May 2013, I wrote a short story about a lesbian girl and received threats in the social network. They were trying to find out my address to lynch me. It was a fictional story but the people interpreted it as a real story.
Literature and any other form of art is created to give people food for thought. If people have questions after reading my book or my notes, I will consider that my writings are not in vain and whatever I do, is not in vain…”