Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How An Article Happens in 83 Easy Steps

  1. Have an idea.
  2. Do some research about your idea.
  3. Pitch your editor.
  4. Have your editor accept your pitch and give you guidelines, a deadline, a word count, a rate.
  5. Say yes, those things sound great, and move forward (or ask if some things can be changed and then see what your editor says and eventually arrive at a scenario that works for both of you).
  6. Do on-site reporting.
  7. Go to the class your subject is teaching.
  8. Take lots of notes. 
  9. Photograph the class. 
  10. Eat a blueberry bagel with mixed berry tofu cream cheese.
  11. Make sure you can read your notes.
  12. Have a glass of sangria with your subject.
  13. Interview your subject and collect many minutes or even hours of interview. 
  14. Go to see your subject give a lecture. 
  15. Participate in their lecture. 
  16. Take more notes. 
  17. Spend more time with your subject, enough where you can pick up on their mannerisms and know what color and brand of lipstick they wear (or the equivalent tiny detail). 
  18. Eat a cheeseburger loaded with sauteed mushrooms with some steak fries on the side.
  19. Go to your friend's birthday party and hang out.
  20. Kiss everyone goodbye and take a cab home because fuck it, it's late and you're tired.
  21. Take the second part of the class your subject is teaching.
  22. Photograph the class again.
  23. Take more notes again. 
  24. Do another interview. 
  25. Drink many cups of mint black tea with milk and Splenda. 
  26. Do another interview. 
  27. Eat a prosciutto, mozzarella, fig jam and arugula sandwich on whole wheat bread that's delicious but far too expensive.
  28. Photograph your subject.  
  29. Go to a coffee shop with WiFi in the East Village to work on your article.
  30. Get an iced black tea because the weather outside makes you wonder how you did not melt, Wicked Witch of the West-style, on the way there.
  31. Ask if your editor would like to push the deadline up to one day later instead of three days later to break the story before another publication.
  32. Have your deadline pushed up to one day later.
  33. Tell yourself not to worry, don't be scared, you know you can do it and you know you're right about knowing these things, plus it was your idea.
  34. Sit hunched over in a coffee shop editing your photos. 
  35. Eat an arugula salad with olive oil, grilled halloumi cheese, pumpkin seeds and tomatoes; add some salt to it, for taste.
  36. Continue sitting hunched over in a coffee shop editing your photos. 
  37. Wonder why your shoulder is bothering you.
  38. Don't realize you've been sitting for six consecutive hours on a barstool.
  39. Head home.
  40. Go grocery shopping first because you have no food and will have no other time this week to go and there's only a bag of old shredded mozzarella, a chicken carcass you've been meaning to throw out, and a bottle of spicy honey mustard in the fridge. 
  41. Come home and get your mail.
  42. See that you received a check addressed to 'Elyssa Brown.'
  43. Roll your eyes and say Fuck. 
  44. Put away your groceries.
  45. For dinner, eat the crackers and guacamole you just bought; throw in some sliced turkey for good measure because you need protein, too, right?
  46. Start to transcribe your interviews, which you discover altogether are 75 minutes' worth, not 45 as you had originally anticipated. 
  47. Get eight minutes into transcription when your shoulder starts to burn and cramp so badly you have to lie down. 
  48. Take four Advil. 
  49. Lie down again.
  50. Ask your friend who transcribes interviews professionally to help you with 45 minutes of it because there's no way your shoulder is going to let all 75 happen right now. 
  51. Send her the digital interview files and praise your digital recorder for being digital and allowing such a feat. 
  52. Lie down again.
  53. Get nervous.
  54. Call your friend who is a physical therapist.
  55. When she doesn't pick up, call your friend who is an orthopedic surgeon.
  56. When she doesn't pick up, post on Facebook asking, does anyone know any stretches because my shoulder is freaking out and I have a deadline tomorrow and I can't type?
  57. Get some responses, some of which are helpful.
  58. Look up shoulder stretches on the internet. 
  59. Do them.
  60. Get annoyed when they don't work and your shoulder is now throbbing. 
  61. What the hell?
  62. Lie on the floor and stretch some more.
  63. Get scared and cry a little because you have no idea what the hell is going on.
  64. When your orthopedic surgeon friend calls you back and tells you to rub the crevice of your shoulder against the wall, do it and make involuntarily obscene noises and tell her how good and better it feels. 
  65. Take four more Advil, and then do this every four to six hours as she says.
  66. Tell her you'll go out tomorrow and get a heating pad, though you will actually forget. 
  67. Transcribe your 30 minutes of interviews. 
  68. Go to bed at 1am.
  69. Wake up at 8am.
  70. Print out the transcription from your goddess friend who finished the work in less than two hours the night before.
  71. Make a note to buy her a margarita.
  72. Sit down to read the 11 pages of transcription.
  73. Get about halfway through and pass out for two hours. 
  74. Wake up.
  75. Say to yourself, FUCK, then stumble out of bed to the stove to make yourself some tea and wake the hell up because IT'S TIME TO WRITE, dammit. 
  76. Finish reading the interview transcription. 
  77. Turn out a 2000+ word article you're really proud of in about four and half hours. 
  78. Upload your photos to Dropbox.
  79. Send the photos and text to your editor. 
  80. Take a fucking nap.
  81. Anticipate your parents and their friends asking why you say fuck so much in your blog as they read this. 
  82. Post it online anyway. 
  83. Laugh at the absurdity that is your life and how happy you are that it's never boring.