February 14, 2007

Can you tell me a little about...

I pray that they don't pick up when the first ring resounds on my phone line. By the third ring, I am agitated, ready with my first line, the tactic into their hearts and lives. They will welcome me with what I have to say--I hope.

When they answer, I am at the ready, arrayed in full journalist armor. My questions. My sweet, yet formal tone. My purpose.

I recently spoke to a PBS broadcaster for a story I'm writing and she said I was articulate, that I could keep up a conversation.

I find the exact opposite is true, and I'm not fishing for compliments. Truly, when I am talking to a subject, I am monosyllabic. I say "yes" and "right" quite a bit. Though I sometimes open up the questioning with ideas of my own, my primary purpose is to keep the contact speaking. I am a biologist with a butterfly net, a miner in a hole, a detective at a fresh crime scene. The only difference from story to story is the size of the holes in the net, the depth of the mine and the number of clues.

Also, my contacts probably think I am slightly deaf. "Can you say that one more time" and "I'm sorry, I didn't get that" are my most common phrases. Long pauses are also a characteristic of my interviews. I may even join a shorthand class because I am tired of writing like a maniac. Why don't we learn this kind of thing in school?

I often catch myself thinking that I can't do my job, and that I'm not good at it. I think that comes from not going to an office or classroom every day where I can put on a show for others. I'm showing myself, I think. Each time I sit down at my computer, I face audiences that I never see, particularly now in this warm coccoon of a bedroom. It is probably committing a mortal journalist sin to say so, but I try not to think about them most of the time. I don't like to think about people reading stuff I wrote in my pajamas.

I think about what I think. Would I read it? Does it matter? What could I get out of it? Do I care? Though I don't believe in normal human beings, I believe that I am one of them, and my opinion matters. And I am my most critical critic. I despise my bedhead interviews and double negatives, but somehow I click submit.

So what do I do when I find out my article has been published? I pick up a copy at my local quick-mart, scan it for my editors changes and quickly file it away.

I know what they said. I know what I said. It all started with a ring and a connection with someone somewhere. I found the star specimen, the golden vein, the one strand of DNA. They were what was important and, if my phone doesn't ring, I can share in their fame. And if it does--their infamy.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at February 14, 2007 9:10 PM | TrackBack

Great post. Blogged it.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 14, 2007 11:24 PM
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