This week I was given a story to do that was in essence Mission Impossible. Four days to finish an enterprise story that usually requires a week or two. Like most reporters, a lot of us pull double sometimes triple duty and I’m no different. On most days I lay out wire pages or do the front page so rarely is there a day I strictly focus on writing.
There’s always doubts that tend to crop up ‘what ifs’ are what I like to call them: the prospect of not finishing on time or that a source you need is unreachable at the very moment you need them. If your not careful all those thoughts can become all consuming and then there is writers block. To a reporter that simply is not allowed to happen. There is not enough time to take a break or put down a story like fiction writers tend to do. The only thing there is to do is work through it and live with what you got.
Now I’ve worked as a journalist for a while and I can live with something that isn’t perfect, but it’s another thing all together when you get a raw deal. In this case a deadline got pushed up by two months and in my mind that was not only completely unfair to me, but it’s unfair to the story and the people that you are writing about.
The entire time that I was working this story there wasn’t any doubt about the story because it was a good one, it was about the fact that I’m rushing this story through unnecessarily. That given a week or two I could ruminate on this story, reasearch all the angles and dive in with a precise idea of what I’m writing about.
I had none of that and it really pissed me off.
Strangely enough, that became all the motivation I needed to get this done. There was a sense that a cosmic force of destruction was trying to ruin this story, but there was also a sense of wanting to give the evil deadline gods a big F-you. That this’ll be the best damn story no matter how many days you gave me to do this.
Every writer has their reasons for staying up late at night clattering away at the computer keys, churning out page after page. In this case I was at the office till 3 a.m. pecking away because wanted the right to step into the office next time and say that i did the impossible and did it well.