The challenge when writing something fictional is to remain open enough to let the story flow through you. I know this now after many frustrating attempts to "make shit up." Letting the story flow sounds easier, and really should be in theory, but it is still a challenge indeed when your primary occupation is the survival, safety, feeding and psychological well-being of young boy children. They don't care about my flow (you could go several ways with that statement, yogic, menstrual, ad nauseum), nor should they. They're kids. They shouldn't have to care about my angsty writing crap.
But the challenges when writing something non-fictional based on an actual person have become thusly: 1) Getting the story and its impact exactly right; and 2) Capturing a real, live person in all their incredibly complex detail. This is not a person who is made up. Her life events really happened, and they are intense and outrageous and it is up to me to do them justice. This task is even more confounding when A) Said person is a "force of nature"-type person; and B) Said person has literally lived two lives, first as a man, then as a woman.
At my most recent meeting with Jessica to go over more details about her court case so I can write about them in some semi-intelligent fashion, I found myself repeatedly staring into her eyes, searching for that dude in there. I only know her as female, but I have to try to picture her as male in order to capture her. She has literally had a double life, and seen things on both sides that most people can only dream (or read) about. I never knew her before her transition. She has always been 100% female in my experience of her. But I still have to tell the part of her story of living in a man's (and boy's) body while having the mind of a female.
Which brings me to the next perplexing issue: How do you nail someone's magnetism? That indescribable something that draws you to a person? It has no gender (or race or color or religion for that matter). She had a much different personality back before she was in the body of her true gender. How do I capture that? I never met that person, but I am told he was quiet and shy, retreating; nothing like the open, talkative, brassy chick I know and love today.
And therein lies the fun of it. If it weren't a challenge, it would be boring, and I need to remember that. And so I press on. It pales in comparison to what she has overcome, and continues to overcome every single day.