The first reason not to write feature stories is you’d rather be doing something else, like having your eyebrows ripped out by the roots. I resisted the idea at first. The roll-your-eyes brat inside me said “I can’t believe I have to do this” like the sixth grader who’s been told for the next five months in PE they’ll be learning the Fox Trot. I simply stomped my middle school foot, crossed my arms and pouted under the basketball hoop muttering, “I don’t wanna!!”
In spite of a disparaging attitude, my first two attempts at interviewing went well. So, when a co-worker approached me about doing a profile for the company newsletter I readily agreed. After all, how hard could it be? Big mistake.
Margaret Johnson the “Fun With Watercolors” instructor was waiting for me at the historic art museum with twelve of her students. All I had to do was grab a few paint class trivia stories, and I’d be free. I hopped up on what looked to be some sort of antique heater apparatus, got out my notebook and fired off my first question.
“ Margaret, what do you like best about teaching art?”
“Well”, she cautiously began, “please call me Marge. Let’s see… I don’t know. “
Great. Now what? “Well, can you tell me what your class has been working on?” I tried again.
“Well, we’re working on mixing colors. You see, the six tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and a secondary, our neutral achromatic colors are black, white and gray, a triad uses colors at the points of an equilateral triangle, of course a double split compliment, also called tetradic uses two pairs of compliments…”
I was trying to decipher one word of useable quotes when I felt something hot. I jumped down from my perch, where I was sitting on a blaze from what must have been a working steam heater. Yikes! I’m supposed to be getting quotes that burn through the page, not burn through my pants. There had to be an easier way. I had completely flubbed this interview, and didn’t have a clue how to salvage it.
I knew I needed help. But where? I remembered reading about a successful writer who’s talent thrived after taking a graduate level writing class at Harvard. That’s what I needed! It was the thrill of having a professional analyze “your baby.” And if you happen to give birth to an eleven-pound screamer only a mother could love, you just take the course again. Of course, not being sought out by Harvard, I would have to use my imagination and just pretend I was in the class.
Using complex visualization techniques (laying in a hammock with a cold drink) I imagined the somber scene of a graduate school classroom with a stern looking professor at the front of the room clutching my feature story. He was tall, white haired and pointed his finger in my direction.
“Miss Edwards. How did you lose control of this interview?” he said frowning.
“Ah..I dunno.” (I never was good at thinking on my feet in class).
“Well I suggest you figure it out!
I squirmed in my seat, with a furtive glance at the clock.
“You see,” he continued, “You’re writing with action, emotion, feeling…have you been thinking about that, Miss Edwards?”
“Um hum.” Well, actually no. I’ve been thinking about what kind of tan the girl next to me has… it’s so real looking. I wonder if it’s from the sun, a tanning bed, or that new spray on stuff….”
“Well,” I nervously continued, “I think next time I’ll get control, and I won’t sit on any heaters, and…”
“STOP!” He yelled. I think he even slammed a stick on the desk, but I’m not sure-. “ What is your take away here?”
“Ah…don’t sit on antique heaters?”
At this point Professor Picky decides he has a sick headache and he should have listened to his mother and gone into the dry cleaning business with his cousin Earl. Dry cleaners don’t have days like this. He dismisses us all in a fury. Mental note: strike out visualization.
In the meantime my limited expertise is still in demand. My neighbor says she has an “in” with some exciting new subjects for me to interview--Elmer the worm harvester, and a new group at the retirement home called the “Ladies of Seizure.” I can hardly wait.
LouAnn - I love this piece! I'm still laughing!
God loves you and you are called to write,