I keep a yellow lined pad of paper sitting in front of my monitor. It gives me a place to jot quick notes of anything that I want to remember, not forever, but for the next few minutes, hours, or days, at most. When I fill a page, then then it gets flipped. Every so often I scan the pages and see if there's anything I really needed to keep. If not, then I toss it.
A week or so ago, I wrote the words "Extraordinary Rendition" on the pad. Why? I think it was just when I was reading a news piece. I don't recall. However, that phrase has been seeping into my subconscious for awhile. Finally, I decided I had to write something that had that as a title. I did some research and found a great quote from a former CIA agent. I pasted that at the top of a fresh screen and started to write. Yes, it was about torture.
I don't know diddley about torture except what I read about Abu Ghraib and from the work of a friend of mine who knows about such things. He knows who he is, so he can comment and let that particular feline out of the bag if he wishes.
I posted the story up on the East of the Web site for a couple of days and was told that my torture lacked veracity. Not surprising, since I'm not even a fan of horror movies. I asked my friend for some help and, man, did I get it! Even more than I wanted for this particular story. I used much of what he gave me and I'm letting it simmer for awhile to see if it turns into garbage or goulash.
Another comment on the original story was that I really couldn't write about such things as it should be conveyed only in first person accounts. I have to disagree. I wanted to ask the commenter, "so when did you own a bar frequented by prostitutes?" But, I knew that would be a provocative statement, so I just let it go.
I think I do have the "right" to write this type of story, just as much as any writer who delves outside their immediate existence for storylines. My message may even be clearer than a first-person account because I do not have the immediacy of the emotion. I can take a step back and decide what message I want to put out by writing about it.
My message is first political, but less than you might suspect. I saw it more as a modern retelling of a old story--a person unjustly accused of a crime. To illustrate an old notion that is still with us can only be a valid topic. We, as a society, fail to note history and will be forever doomed to repeat it. As long as we repeat the hideous failures, writers have the obligation to bring it to view; either through fiction or non-fiction.
I may not be the best writer for this task, but it was in my head and now is on electronic paper. Therefore, it is mine to have written. Otherwise, it would still just be a jotting on a yellow pad sitting between my keyboard and my monitor.