Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Have yourself a merry little …

December 20, 2000

The best Christmas presents are those that come all year long.

For me, having a job that is fascinating every day (yes sometimes part of seven days a week) is like a gift from Santa.

Working with people who are fun to be with is a big part of this equation. Having the freedom to be somewhat creative in my writing and photography is another. And meeting and interviewing people is another.

One of the wisest comments I've heard is the old refrain, "A friend is a stranger you haven't met."

That's so true, especially in this line of work.

Interviews inherently tend to get down to the basics. After you pass through the who, what, when, where and why, then there's the wonder of what makes this person tick what drives this person what is it that makes this person unique. And then, long after the interview ends and the door closes, the process continues in a gradual, almost subconscious assimilation until finally the story is ready to be written.

In traveling about the county taking pictures, there is the necessity of learning to see things differently. You don't just look out of a car window when riding in the country you look out of the window as if it were a picture frame and you continually search for the best view to fill that frame.

And in photography, there's the opportunity to study faces. Some faces show more expression than others, but put anybody in the right situation, and have the right light pouring in from the right angle and once in a while you'll take a photo you'll never forget. After all, photography merely consists of images of captured light.

There are hurdles in our work. There's writer's block the sad feeling of helplessness when (if you can make yourself sit down at the keyboard at all) you start to type.

The cure? Sometimes it's a drive in the country, a change of venue, a chance to get your mind off things for a while. Sometimes it's a phone call to a source you learn to build on their enthusiasm, their energy. Sometimes it's a good night's sleep.

There's the long hours. Before Fred and I were married, I didn't mind staying at the office late in the evenings. But now I find myself eager to go home at night. To help, I purchased a laptop computer that's compatible with the office computers so I can do some of my work at home. And when there are evening events, Fred sometimes accompanies me.

My children, too, get involved. My youngest son takes pictures, and this week my oldest son accompanied me to a press conference at Kansas Speedway.

My father, my biggest fan, clips some of my stories and tacks them to his bulletin board. My mother faithfully calls in story ideas. I don't always have time to follow up on everything, but the ideas that can wait get put in a file and are eventually used.

The best part of the job, not mentioned above, is that it's never boring. Each day provides the opportunity to learn something new, see something new and meet someone new. And to be part of a process where the work ends up in the homes of some 2,800 readers, many of whom have helped us throughout the year by bringing story ideas, and letting their lives be shared on the pages of this newspaper.

As I said, the best Christmas gifts are those that come all year long. And so, when you open The Mirror each week, think of those of us who work at The Mirror, and think of the newspapers as a Christmas gift from us. In a way, it's just our way of saying thanks to you.

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