I’ve had cobwebs, decorating the corners of my soft square head over the last few weeks, to vanquish from my soft head, and since I awoke at 3 am Monday morning, I’ve been doing just that.
After ranting here Sunday, the rest of the day went okay, I must say. Gladly and enthusiastically I approached the waiting writing assigment for a great midwestern newsweekly I had pledged to produce without flail — and without fail on said day. Usually I approach what I love to do for money with moderate to major trepedation, but not Sunday. The blog rant took the quinine out of my veins, and I was confident about the interview I had taped for the article. Everything worked.
Simple articles “write” easily, and begin with transcribing quotes and attributed facts. Facts don’t require quotes all the time, but confirmation of data, in the form of a quotable reaction to facts shared in narrative text often advances the article. Too many quotes which reveal facts add up to what reads like a speech contrived by the writer; not the speaker. Besides, just as in radio and television writing, I like “quotable quotes” which give the reader some insight about the person quoted. Once the quuotes are landed, concurrently with paraphrasing via narrative, arranging the flow of the story commences.
What flow? An interview produces facts, but no story because they aren’t revealed in natural chronology. My “business” is to share facts in ways that engage and entertain the reader. Sometimes this results in a story that begins in the present tense and looks back, vice versa, or even maintains tense through the article..
Journalism, unlike fiction, requires what trained prefeshenals call “the pyramid approach.” This places the most important part of the article at the top, at the beginning, and the rest flows from there. If the editor (who sitteth at the right hand of God, the publisher) needs to shorten the story, the typical rule is to cut from the bottom because that’s where least harm will result. Sometimes that’s not the way to go. especially when there’s a conclusion to be made on the basis of what is shared to the end. Then it’s a matter of cutting the lesser fuzzies (needless minor points, extended narrative) and keeping the conclusion. All of this is shared with YOU because many fine people consider journalism to be no more than “who, what, when, where” and “he said/she said.” It’s more than that.
Why? You’re right! “Why” is often important as well.
After the quotes, arrangement of flow and collateral narrative were complete, I pretty much had the article in the bag. Equally important is stepping away from the draft of the pidce and returning with a clear head to fine-tune it. So I went grocery shopping in late afternoon.
The weather was brutal, spitting light rain and penetratingly cold for a journalist dressing light. Shoppers please note: Buddig sliced lunchmeat is 69 cents a package at Shop ‘N’ Save; 79 cents at County Market. So I didn’t go hog wild with the Buddig Honey Ham and Chicken. I was feeling semi-delerious after putting in a good day writing for dollars, so I gave myself permission to buy a baked chicken. The rest was mundane fare. Like an idiot, I did buy another box of Saltines, remembering too well how I abuse them as “economy corn chips” when eaten with margarine.
BOOM home, warm home, beckoning home, sanctuary home. . . . . . . and back to the article.
It was a breeze to revise and send to editor extraordinaire. Only after did I realize I hadn’t put it through spell check and noticed a few hiccups in the copy I printed.
Dinner was super, thanks in part to an improved baked chicken at County Market. It was the best I have eaten from ANYwhere. The colorful wrapper suggests there has been a major change in they way they do their chickens there. BRAVO County Market! With the bird, a stack of Saltines and margarine and all the iced tea I could hold, I had enjoyed as fine and productive a day as a bloke in my condition dares to dream for.
But I was tired from all that thinking. There was nothing of interest to moi on the televee, and after putting in a few hours in the model workshop the fatigue “hit me like a hot kiss at the end of a wet fist,”. as The Firesign Theater would say in The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye.” And this time for the first time in a long time, I didn’t fight it.
I went to bed at 9:35 and was asleep before 9:37. When I awakened for no reason a little before 3, I realized I was not going to get back to sleep, so I arose, washed dishes while coffee water heated, and came into this office to despatch some of those lingering cobwebs, SUCCESSFULLY. Now at 8:03, it’s apparent the substitute teacher service is not going to call me.
That’s a relief. I have some bill concerns to despatch, and the sooner the better. If the sub line calls, I am as bound as though my life depended on it (which it does) to go where they need me. The worst fear on my mind most of the weekend (and this may seem silly) was that I would be called and would head schoolward which I normally love to do. Perhaps a few more cobwebs will fall today. . . . . . .
Live long . . . . . . and proper.
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