Finally, the girl can breathe, just a smidgen. Finally, she can go put her feet up and let the swelling go down. Finally, she can take the sleepy sinus meds and slip away for many hours. Finally! I’m so relieved.
I finished the writing on Dec today. All the articles, all the tidbits. Can’t do anything else til I see a first draft. Getting one soon. Stacy’s dropping it off.
Late. I hate being late. And I’m always confused when I’m late, as to what happened, where did it all go wrong. Yes, this time I had some health stuff this past two weeks. Sinus. Arthritis. Bowel. You name it! It came to call in the past couple of weeks. But still . . . that’s not enough. And the time that it went so easy and we were on time, early even, what about that time? What did I do differently? How did I handle that one?
These stories, man. Killers.
And that got me thinking about the process. I must not be acknowledging the time it really takes to go through the process. I must not be realistic about it. So then I’m going through it in my head.
First I get the story, generally somebody puts me onto it, often times they don’t even know what it’s all about because someone has told them about it. So then I have to sit and make a list of questions I need to ask the subject of the story in order to find out what the story is about. Sometimes I need to do research on the Internet in order to write intelligent questions. I need the questions first just in case when I call whoever it is they say they have a few minutes right now and then they’re leaving the country for three months. In case I come up against a now or never situation, it’s good to be prepared. But usually, it’s not now, it’s later. So I call and make an appointment. Then I call back or arrive in the person’s place at the time of the appointment. I ask the questions I have written down. I ask questions I don’t have written down. I take pages and pages of notes.
The next step is transcribing the notes. Depending on the story I may also need to do more research. This time for instance, I had quite a few stories that needed a lot of research because they’re big topics I know nothing about. I’m talking 3-4 hours of online research per story. From the research I will cut and paste up to a dozen pages of pertinent notes into my existing interview notes document. So I end up with a 15-20 page document of random story things that I need to peel back to about a thousand words of coherent smooth flow. This is challenging. This doesn’t happen on the same day I did the initial research.
Then I have to find the lead. The beginning is the most important part, it sets the tone for the whole thing. Oftentimes there are a few ways I could go and I need to find the one that does what I want to do in the best way. Finding the lead is hard. Sometimes no lead readily presents itself and then I’m pulling my hair out and freaking out. Finding the lead is a physically draining dilemma. I can find the lead on a couple of stories in the same day, but I can’t do anything else with that story on the day I find the lead, because I have mush brain on that story. So what I always do is find the leads on all my stories first. Then I go back and finish them one by one.
When I get to this last stage I generally know the information so well and understand where I’m going so the writing goes very quickly, it’s not even like writing at this stage, it’s more like putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. This is the quote that follows the lead, this sentence segues into the next quote, this topic followed by that topic, there’s the ending, delete the flabby unused portion and voila! There’s the story. I can knock off a few of these puppies in a day, once they get to this stage. And there I have it, my lateness clarified. Now I know. Seven days to comfortably get a feature story done. Four features this issue equals 28 days or 5 and a half weeks, plus all the regular articles I write (editor’s note, movie review, wellness article, sammyscope), plus all the editing and blurbs writing, plus all the admin, coordination and correspondence with the contributors, plus the online issues that were coming out every two weeks until I decided I didn’t have time to do the online issue two weeks ago. And then I get sick! Suddenly it all makes sense. Why do I repeatedly set myself up to fail?
And then that part of my brain that truly believes I am Wonder Woman kicks in and says, but wait, you don’t need all those days. You don’t need all those steps and gel time. And outside the heat of the writing, in the quiet time when the stories have been laid to rest, I hear that voice and I think, that’s right! I can take a story from interview to finished in one day! I can totally do that! And the next story I write, I even try to do that. I try to lump steps together, and I get so tired, and I get so stressed, and I don’t get any further ahead, and I have to admit I can’t do it. But by then, it’s too late, because I’ve already committed to write all these stories. So there you go.
I’m an idiot.
Mood: wound up
Drinking: not yet
Listening To: nothing