Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hating Your Sources, Part Deux

Ya know, I'm seeing there's a pattern in my last few posts. A leitmotif, if you will. A theme. And that theme is crabbiness. I come here to crab about how annoying my stories are, and why is that?! I love what I do! I'm so grateful to be making inroads back to super-freelance status. What is my damage, Heather?

I guess part of it is -- since I have such a strict policy against (a) blogging about blogging, (b) blogging about not blogging, and (c) blogging about my blog, I only show up here when I have an axe to grind. I suppose it would be possible for me to blog about how unbelievably psyched I am about something. I am! I'm psyched about the cover story I'm writing, it's totally fun and today I got to call the PR company that inspired the name of the Beastie Boys album "Hello, Nasty." Kick ass! I'm psyched that I have a second chance at the big-money toddler tips. Yay!

But I'm bummed that I emailed a very specific request to a nutrition expert, and her reply was to lecture me about how the basic premise of my story was stupid, and try to give me a NEW angle to my story. Oh, expert! How could you? How many times, Expert, have I called you or your ilk to say, "Quick! I'm on deadline! Give me five tops for maintaining Zen in a crisis!" or "Help! I'm desperate! Name three top mood-making interior design tips!" -- only to be given the lecture that (a) the story idea I was assigned, over which I have no control, is stupid, and I SHOULD be writing about this other thing that you feel like talking about.

Expert, it just ain't right. It's not how magazines work. If you worked at one, you would know, but you don't, so on this topic, can I just be the expert? The expert says, if I need five energy-boosting food with spurious science to support each one, just give it to me. We can figure it out together, even! (I've done this before with your opposite, the Awesome Expert!) But don't try to change what story I'm doing so it fits your philosophy. In the long history of publishing -- back to the invention of the Gutenberg press, and possibly as far back as cave-painting -- there has never been a subject of a story, or an expert cited, who said "You ought to do it this way," and voila, wahoo, w00t, the article came out exactly like that. Nope.

If it worked that way, it'd be a blog. Your expert blog. God, wouldn't it be awesome if I googled my expert right now, and found a fresh blog entry bitching about stupid reporters and their dumbed-down requests? that was be so meta! our blogs could meet like matter and antimatter and destroy the internets and all its tubes!

In other bummer news, I didn't get the awesome part-time gig I was up for. Man! The awesome part-time work-from-home gig is right up there with the editor-at-large title -- mysterious, elusive, precious. Ah well. The timing wasn't so great anyway. If all goes well at their end, they'll have room for me in a few months, when my time will be either more my own or completely NOT my own. We'll see. I like them, and they gave me the nicest rejection ever ("No, YOU're great! No, YOU!"), so I'm choosing to believe they like me and will use me eventually.

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