Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hard Work

Once in a while, I run into a story that I just can't tackle. Once in a while it feels like I'm back playing little league football and the coach puts me in at offensive tackle--whatever that meant--and tells me to block the biggest, fastest, strongest, meanest guy in Whitestone, New York, someone who outweighs me by 90 pounds, is three years older, a foot taller and a million times stronger. Plus, he knows what his position's name means.
And that's what I've been dealing with on my current story for a month. I can't tell you what it is until after we go to print, but boy, this has been a freaking bear. Why? Because partly, it's been told. And after some was told and printed, all the principals clammed up and won't talk to journalists anymore. Oh. But I am going to wrestle this thing to the ground. I am slowly crawling out from under, found sources, connected dots no one else connected and I am, by Tuesday night, when we got to press, going to kick ass on this beast.
Hard work, but that's what makes me strong. And my editor, freaking brilliant, is telling me I don't have it yet. I don't have anything worth printing. She's pushing me and pushing me and I've written and rewritten and made more phone calls and spent hours and hours finding, unearthing, and reading hundreds of pages of documents connected to this after I thought it was done. She's a very good editor and she wants the best stories. And I'm proud to work for her, even though I hate getting emails that tell me "We are in serious trouble here..." because I take them seriously. With other mags you would just laugh it off. With this editor, with the respect she commands and deserves, you're forced to put in another 60 hours.
And that generally pays off.
I think I caught the tiger today.
I'll find out tomorrow when I double check what I found. And If I'm right, I'll make the changes and send it off and she'll tell me I'm closer but not there, and then I'll do another 30 hours on it, till Tuesday at 8 PM when it either goes to press or we print blank pages. And I have never let a magazine down with blank pages. Do that once and you are out of the business.
So thanks boss, for kicking ass. Thanks for pushing. Thanks for the whip. I don't like any of it but know I sometimes need it.
I'm gonna take a good piece tomorrow morning at 5 AM and do some freaking magic. And then the whip will stop.
I love the pressure to be good. Makes me feel alive.

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