20 July, 2015

Gig Life Along the Dirty, Sacred River: Part 1 of ?

This is the gig.

The absolute deadline is Tuesday 9am. Friday afternoon is golden. Monday 5pm is the preferred latest, as this gives them time to stay flexible in determining whether the article meets their needs.

This is the gig.

Mornings have become a version of controlled chaos. The different accommodations and deals we made with ourselves to extend Sunday, to hold onto the last bit of the weekend, have come full circle.  Amanda gets ready to go her job. She's almost always the first up these days, so she lets the dogs out and tries to mentally prepare for what she has called "the cube life." I've fallen out of the discipline I had in my 30's, so I let myself lounge some. This is a habit I need break, because discipline is at the heart of everything I do. Discipline is the center. Discipline is the golden spike holding it all together.

This is the gig.

News isn't the sexiest writing, but it has meaning. It has purpose. In these, the latter days of Empire, writing the news isn't about informing the public so much as it is providing the larger narrative people need to understand the world around them. It's about making connections, ferreting out details, and slinging truth with as much detail and style as possible.

This is the gig.

There are those who claim to simply want the media to report "the facts." But the facts are rarely simple; and when they are, all that means is there's another story underneath that needs to crawl out in the air and light. Also I find that people are lying, mostly to themselves, when they say they just want the facts. What people want is a narrative that doesn't counter the narrative they've already told themselves over their lifetime. "Truth" is often a story we tell ourselves to explain how the world works, so we can stop paying attention and focus on other things.

This is the gig.

Amanda has been at work a half hour. The house is quiet for the moment. I'm drinking coffee and remembering that I didn't eat breakfast. I'm at my desk in the basement writing this, and as I am, the articles I have to knock out today are percolating in the back of my head, just they have been for the last few days. Sometimes the hardest part of this gig is finding the story -- not spin, as the cynics call it, but focus. A good news writer provides a lens, just like a movie director provides a lens. Not knowing the focus of an article before I sit down to write it frustrates me. Think of an article's focus like the closing of a giant sack. In order to find that focus, the sack has to be open to all things, to everything. In this, writing news is not unlike writing poetry, since writing poetry means being open to all things. But at some point, the sack is full. At some point, it must be tied off, or it will overflow and everything I've been trying to explain will be lost in the miasma.

This is the gig.

When I'm being honest, I tell people this gig is really about muckraking. The gig is about wading into the shit and public relations spin. The gig is about finding half rotten molars and turning them into pearls. The gig is about the same old ontological argument as poetry -- trying to find what a literature professor of mine once called Big "T" truth as opposed to Little "t" truth. The gig is an exercise in semantics -- finding the meaning of meaning.

This is the gig.

I read recently that I have more opportunity than ever in this "recovered" economy. Our house was built in 1946. It has old house problems. There are leaks that needs to be repaired that the recent rains have brought to our attention. The kitchen floor needs to be leveled from underneath. We have project plans for the dining room and the kitchen. The backyard is a jungle that could be an Eden. There are two more adult eaters and another dog living here for awhile. I remind myself, almost daily, that there is more outside of my control than in it. I have begun an almost perpetual form of meditation and prayer.  What I want most is a peaceful household, but I am constantly having to negotiate terms with myself. I was watching a show on stream recently and one of the characters said Being a father means being responsible for other other people. At least once a day I wonder how my father handled it -- truly handled it, as opposed to my memory of him handling it. And then I think about how I'm supposed to be able to rake in all this cash because it's the "gig economy" and I want to scream and unleash the demon in my heart.

This is the gig.

Everything reduces to poetry. Writing news has its own rhythm and resonance. It  has it's own alliteration and assonance. The focus is often born out of the form the article takes. I love it like I love teaching and poetry. They each takes a significant toll. They each simultaneously feed and emaciate the fabric of my soul. I meditate and pray on process. I look for the light in my daughter's eyes and hope it never fades. I dream of Montana and perpetual motion. I wait for Amanda to get home so I can find resolve and focus in her arms.
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