I was a blabbering idiot when I met my hero Neil Gaiman
One of the best parts about being a journalist is meeting your heros. Meeting famous people is pretty cool too, but that falls more into the novelty category. It’s the equivalent of making it into the Guinness Book of World Records, but for something you don’t care about.
However, the opportunity to meet one of those unattainable people you’ve always admired from a distance, now that’s something special. Unfortunately, the opportunity is perilous considering that you as a journalist are required to produce something readable from the encounter.
I’ve separated hero-meeting into two categories: Underwhelming and Overwhelming.
Underwhelming: Sometimes meeting a hero in real life is the most disappointing and deflating thing in the world. I hate it when this happens. For me, it’s only happened once, but I won’t say for who.
Overwhelming: Or sometimes the hero is everything you imagined them to be and more. This is overwhelming. And a starstruck journalist is the most ineffective and unprofessional thing in existance.
So pick your poison. And for all you non-journalists, remember that the most rewarding way to worship a hero is from a distance. Nobody has buggers from far away.
My plan was to drive out to California this morning, but I didn’t finish writing my latest article until 5pm. This delay ruined my plans. And the stress gave me a sore throat. And I’m not even sure if the article turned out. So I’ll have to wait and see and start packing cause I’m going to california tomorrow morning. There I will audition for a game show. Maybe the winnings will fund my freelance writing career. I don’t know. I don’t know. Just tired now. Spent. From. Writing.
But my situation begs the question: How does one write fast enough to prevent this hullabaloo?
I don’t get writer’s block … well, at least not in the traditional sense. You know, the anguishing combat against a blank page, the tossing and turning, the sweating, the screaming, the bleeding, you know, the classic version of writer’s block.
I also don’t get insomnia, which has much the same symptoms.
I solve both problems using one–though no necessarily good–solution. If I ever get a feeling that I might have trouble sleeping and/or writing, I simply avoid the bed/pen until I can stay awake/avoid my editor no longer.
While this strategy has indeed solved the insomnia/writer’s block problem, it has also brought on a new (and arguably worse) problem of bedtime inflation/procrastination. It’s kinda like bringing in cats to end a mice problem and then dogs to end a cat problem and then cougars to end a dog problem and then elephants to end a…
PS. As an example, here is what I did last night instead of writing/sleeping (notice how I apply the same intense concentration to all activities, not just authoring):
If you’re the type of writer that uses facts of some sort, this website my be your new best friend. It’s called Zotero and it’s a free citation management program. Those who have forked out the cash for EndNote may appreciate this site. I haven’t tried it out yet, but the home page claims that it works as a Firefox extension. So you can save citations from the websites you’re searching in real time.
For those who missed the link: http://www.zotero.org
For all you writer’s out there seeking to be published in better-than-blog form, you will do well to study Paul Mandelbaum’s list of short story markets. Simply locate the downloadable word doc in the top right hand corner of the classes page of his eponymous website.
Using his list requires careful introspection. In which of his talent-tiers does your writing belong?
I. Too competitive for words
2. Ultra Competetive
3. Very, very competitive
4. Darn Competitive
5. Take up painting instead
OK, I made up the last one. But you get the idea. Each category (I didn’t list them all) comes with names and links to many publication outlets. But you gotta check it out on your own to get the goodies.
Yesterday, I interviewed a rockstar. Since I can’t scoop my own article, his name must remain anonymous. Suffise it to say, his is quite famous and has been so since the 80s.
But how does one go about interviewing rockstars? I’m glad you asked. For your convenience, I’ve simplified the complex process into a basic, easy-to-follow plan.
Landing the Coveted Interview
- Write for a publication that likes to profile rockstars.
- Beg your editor to pretty please with a cherry on top let you interview rockstars.
- Promise to be very professional and not make out with interview subjects until 30 days after print date. (This includes but is not limited to tour buses and hotel after-parties.)
Prepping for the Interview
- Practice journalistic excellence by researching the musician’s background. Leave no stone unturned.
- Harass their ex-girlfriends, ex-bandmates and ex-Pink Dot delivery men.
- Steal their medical histories from PlannedParenthood. (This step will come in useful if you fail to live up to the previously mentioned promise in rule No. 3)
Conducting the Interview
- Be late to the interview to show the rockstar that you “just don’t care.” This will elevate you to their level. They will respect you and refer to you as “that one cool journalist.”
- Rockstars love to talk about themselves. This will not do. At every possible moment, interrupt them with anecdotes about that one time you got backstage at the Buck Cherry concert.
- Record the interview with a digital recorder so that you can later make the rockstar’s voice into your answering machine message.
Writing the Article
- Transcribing is a long, ardous task. Skip it. Nobody actually cares what rockstars have to say. They aren’t writers, after all.
- With no transcription to bind you to the boring truth, you are free to make up your own quotes. Be creative.
- Using the numeric trickery from The DaVinci Code, embed your phone number into the article so that when said rockstar reads your masterpiece, he will know how to thank you.
NOTE: If you’ve made it this far and haven’t yet been sued for libel, then you’re astute enough to realize that I’m just kidding. If you want a true model of outstanding rock journalism, I would suggest reading the work of Neil Strauss and Stephen Davis.