As I briefly mentioned in Friday's post, I'm in the midst of a move right now. I'll give it a post of its own at some point; but basically, I was offered a job in Austin a couple of weeks ago, accepted it, and am driving across the country packed between boxes of books and bags of clothes today. Right now. I pre-scheduled this post. I am currently on a highway somewhere. If you know how to drop me snacks from the sky like I'm a Hunger Games contestant, that would be perfect.
ANYWAY, the post:
While packing, I found a stack of notes from football and basketball story interviews I conducted my freshman year of college. Most are carefully researched and meticulously organized questions. Some are notes on the athlete's body language, delivery or appearance. There are flow charts and brain maps and blips of possible leads or sentences; phone numbers and follow-up questions and the occasional outline.
I was amazed and humbled as I leafed through the pages. I had forgotten what a big deal those first stories were to me, and I take for granted how much I've learned.
These days, I rarely prep more than a few questions ahead of time for an interview. I've become quicker and more efficient in my research, and learned to generate follow-up questions on the fly. I pick up on the right details and angles more instinctively. I've learned not to try and direct a story (especially a profile) before an interview, because it's rarely what I expect going in. I don't get nervous anymore, like I did then — I've learned, more and more, that people are people, and interviews are just conversations.
The girl who wrote these careful notes was quick to name interviewing as her least-favorite part of any story. The girl writing this blog post now wholeheartedly names interviewing as perhaps her most-favorite part of any story. I've come a long way without noticing the distance. Always cool stumbling upon a little concrete evidence of the progress you've made.