BRATISLAVA – I read the sports pages, which nowadays are obsessed with statistics. Well, I would like to note that I myself set a career record the other day.
Not something cool-sounding, like “Most publishable words produced in a single day.” No, this is one that you aspiring journalists out there should desperately avoid: how many months I went between jotting notes in my notepad, and finally starting to jig-saw together an article from those same notes.
Ten months. Ten months!
I think my previous record was about six months, set back after my 2008 trip to Kazakhstan. Boy, do I remember how painful that was. “Never again,” I muttered to my wife, over and over.
This time, in the spirit of Vancouver, I’ve bettered that mark. Oh, I’ve got terrific excuses for why I foolishly shoved an important project to the back-burner. (The Hong Kong posts below explain a lot.)
Just know, it’s hung over me for months. I knew the bill would come due.
For those of you who haven’t gone through this before, how to describe it?
First off, I’m reading that chicken-scratch penmanship. Especially, if I’ve taken notes while walking, sitting in a moving car, or if someone is just talkin’ fast.
When the material is still relatively fresh, it’s much easier to decipher certain words. I can feel the context. The words around it trigger the memory and sensation of speaking with some unique character, in some place that 99 percent of the world’s population would consider “exotic.”
Those embers, though, start to go cold after a while.
This week, I’ve been reading through, and it’s like poking into an attic of mementos. (“Was I buying that guy’s story as he was talking?”) Slowly, I’m breathing life into those notes. I’ll also spruce them up with updated research and fresh interviews.