Monday, March 13, 2006


For the last few days, ok, the last week, at work I've been struggling with turning a topic into a story idea. So I have a topic. We'll call it topic X. But - painful journalism lesson #1 - a topic is not a story. And every day that the story line fails to pop into my head, I feel worse about myself. Finally, Friday and today, I kind of turned a corner and made some calls to people who I hope will tell me what is up with topic X.

Then on the way home, McG (my other editor, who also gives me rides home, bless her convertible-driving heart), was like, so, how is Topic X going, and I was like, well, here's what I know about it, but I don't think it's that interesting, so I dunno what the story is. And I think I must have sounded really depressed, because she went off on this whole thing about how hard it is when you first start examining some nebulous area of topic, and you never know if it's going to work out, and it's so scary. And I was like, aw, really? It's not just me? And she's like, nope. She's been a journalist for almost as long as I've been alive, so she's speaking with authority here. And I said, so I guess I just haven't been doing it for long enough to know it always works out. And she said, no no, sometimes it doesn't work out at all, but it's fun!

McG is the best. It was very reassuring. And here's hoping all the people I talk to this week are in the mood to be chatty and tell me stories about topic X.


grrrbear said...

Does Topic X involve playing host to a housefull of teenagers?

If so I'm *totally* willing to talk about it for as long as you need me to.

Spice said...

That totally reminds me of figuring out what my dissertation is about! One of my committee members suggested watching the 'making of' documentary on the "Finding Nemo" DVD so I could see how it's _always_ hard to come up with something original and how gratifying it is when it all comes together in the end. I am now passing along that advice to you.

When it was finally clear that I'd figured my project out (when it moved from a 'topic' to a 'theory'), I got a little round of applause from my advisor and another committee member (not the one mentioned above). Of course, that was about a year and a half after I started the whole process, but I have no doubt that turning Topic X into Excellent Story won't take nearly that long!

towwas said...

Ooh, Finding Nemo, I'll try that!

You're right, it is much the same thing...I guess the difference is, I have to do it more often - every month or two - but each time the stakes are much, much lower. And it has to get easier with practice, right? Or at least the self-doubt and misery should get better.

BASSO said...

...It's always good to watch "Finding Nemo" and/or the documentary on the "making of...." Or you might try "Napoleon Dynamite," there is wisdom in that movie -- deep, overarching wisdom....