A happy work day

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This morning I blogged that one of the awesome things about doing interviews this week is meeting people in their air conditioned office spaces. And, okay, admittedly, that is pretty sweet, as I sit here at my own desk in a room that is pushing 90 degrees F.

But that’s not actually the best part.

The best part is meeting people — and the conversations themselves.

Here is the benefit of being an observer: the world is endlessly fascinating. There is always more to learn. There are different approaches to problems, different enthusiasms, different values, different organizational systems, different social approaches, and I could go on and on. I must say I had no inkling of how absorbingly interesting it would be to conduct interviews — the research part of my job. I was thinking of it as a necessity, I guess, a means to an end, the end being the writing itself. And truth be told, I was ever so slightly intimidated by the thought of asking strangers personal questions.

But the more work I’ve done, the more I appreciate the privilege of getting to ask questions. To focus my energy entirely on someone else’s interest or cause or life’s work or story or niche area of expertise. It’s a real gift to get to listen. And it’s proving to be a bigger piece of the writing-for-money puzzle than I initially bargained on. Yes, communicating the end story is hugely important, but the end story can’t exist without first going through the process of trying to understand a subject in-depth.

I know. This all sounds very obvious.

Perhaps what has me most happy, on this extraordinarily warm Friday afternoon, is the discovery that I’m really enjoying the work I’ve chosen to do — the work for money, I mean. There is such variety in it. I love variety! I’m a serial enthusiast by nature; this is kind of the perfect outlet for those instincts.

One more unexpected and happy discovery: The work itself feels very genuine, even though the situation is by its nature contrived — by which I mean, I’m writing stories that have been assigned to me, about people I wouldn’t ordinarily get to sit down and talk to. But the conversations don’t feel contrived or artificial. (My hope is that the people I’m interviewing feel the same way too.)

It’s been a good first week of the summer holidays. And I capped it off by dropping in at my local Chapters, in my other guise as fiction writer, and signing their stock of Juliet Stories. The girl was so super-friendly, it made my day.

Next up: soccer sidelines, and a picnic supper.

Life without air conditioning
Guess what everyone wants now?

4 Comments

  1. I had a similar thought yesterday — how glad I am to write about diverse topics and people, rather than being employed to write on the same theme over and over.

    My other interesting observation about interviewing is that I often feel daunted by asking a single question at a public lecture, but I love asking questions and listening in an interview. It feels like a privilege to be able to discover someone’s story, where asking a question in public feels like a test to me.

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  2. “serial enthusiast” – ha ha.

    I have always adored doing interviews. Whenever that was an option for a school project, I took it so happily. Whenever I needed to write an article, I would see if it could be handled by interview. I should do it more often on my blog. Peoples’ perspectives are endlessly fascinating to me.

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  3. Susan, I think what feels natural about the interview is that it’s a conversation, so it has a flow. Getting up to ask a question in public IS kind of like a test–or maybe more like a performance. Whereas, with an interview, while it can start off feeling a bit like a performance, as you try to get a sense of each other, the further into the conversation you get, the more familiar it all seems.

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  4. Margo, one caveat for me — I really dislike doing phone interviews. I can do it, of course, but a) it’s harder to take notes and b) I miss the social cues that can only come from being in person. Not sure Skype would solve the problem for me. I’m a tactile person. I need to see things in person to understand them fully.

    Are you a serial enthusiast too, perchance?

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