Friday, March 09, 2007
This gem is rumored to be a contender for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. It has some great imagery and a definite story engine that kept me reading through all three parts to the end.
But the clencher is that the reporter wrote this in about a year. Technically, the paper writes "more than a year," but really, it all means the same thing.
When I read what this reporter was able to write about in a year, I think about the project I've been working on - off and on - for eight months. I look at the interview tapes yet to be transcribed and a feeling of dread sinks into my stomach. I listen to my messages to hear a source tell me the event I've been waiting for to get a piece of my reporting is concluding today. I've missed it and will have to wait until the next time round. Files of reports, statistics and data sit on my desk at work and near my couch at home waiting to be highlighted.
But more so, I look at what people around me are doing and wonder what is my malfunction.
My friend Jessie wrote a lengthy project over the span of a few months on the closing of FEMA City - a forgotten government trailer park forged in the wake of Hurricane Charley.
Every day in my paper it seems like someone's project or series or serial narrative is vying for space on the front page, while my bureau stories languish on the zoned pages.
I just can't seem to get it together.
I blame the workload. I blame my sources for not getting back to me. I blame the subject matter, which is inherently sensitive.
But honestly, I blame myself. I'm just scared.
I'm afraid that I will spend all of these months interviewing folks, gathering data and weaving this tale and it will just suck. I'm afraid that people will look at the story and see the things I should have done or could have done to make it better. I'm afraid of finishing something that people think is too big to have started in the first place.
I'm afraid it won't be good enough. So instead of transcribing or highlighting or interviewing, I clean my desk, or read other people's great stories.
I know that I have to get over this. I know that I need to get over this. I know that I will get over this.
But yet, I'm afraid that I can't do this.
And doubt is a hard feeling to shake. continue...