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"H" Is For Hard - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
"H" Is For Hard
The piece I'm writing is making me enormously anxious. Even though I know it's likely that my subject will find fault with much of it, I still want him to like it. At the same time, though, it won't be worth anything unless I put my own stamp on it. I guess that's what makes this kind of journalism so hard. I keep thinking about how happy Dennis Cooper was to be writing a profile for Spin on Bob Mould, only to end up pissing him off despite the best of intentions. Being a fan isn't enough. In the end, I have to stand up for my own perspective regardless of the consequences. I just wish that I could once and for all renounce the dream of pleasing everyone. That's a shortcut to madness.

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From: ex_benlinus Date: August 2nd, 2006 06:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've done a few profiles like that, and I always battled with that idea. I swing between "fuck him if he doesn't like it" to "he's a good dude and I wanna help him look good as much as possible", then right back to "fuck him if he doesn't like it - I'M GIVING MY HONEST OPINIONS HERE."
Everyone's got their quirks and flaws, and shit they might not want put out there, but you can't let their self image obscure YOUR image of them, even if he is a legend.
What are the consequences for you? He tells all his rockstar buddies not to talk to you?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 2nd, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The thing is, I really respect him. And I understand why he's hard on journalists. I just wish he'd be easier on me. I don't need him to love the piece, but I don't want him to dismiss it with a wave of his hand.
amackey84 From: amackey84 Date: August 2nd, 2006 07:03 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've always had the dream of simultaneously angering everyone involved in the stories I write and inspiring their respect. Probably hasn't ever happened, but I think that sentiment is somewhere along the right track. If it helps, I was always taught that the journalist is the expert, and the source is just that. It's highly pretentious, but it sometimes works.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 2nd, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I wish I could believe that. In this case, though, the source is very much an expert on all the ways that journalists screw things up, necessarily and unnecessarily. But I think I'll shoot for winning his respect instead of his favor. So thanks for the helpful advice.
kolakoski From: kolakoski Date: August 2nd, 2006 10:21 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Perhaps it's because I'm finally getting around to reading Theodore A. Rees Cheney's Writing Creative Nonfiction, but as I read your entry, I couldn't help thinking about the author's obligation to the reader, which, if I may go so far as to say, ultimately trumps his or her responsibility to the subject.

Of course, this makes it even more difficult to "renounce the dream of pleasing everyone."
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 2nd, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes. That's a helpful book, I think. Odd in places, but still helpful. As I think I said in class, it's almost more helpful when it's flawed.

You can't really try to please your reader, though. I mean, the same need to stand up for yourself applies. Who wants to read a pushover? I worry that I'm a pushover. I sound like Woody Allen. . .
jakemacalister From: jakemacalister Date: August 2nd, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

I totally hear you on this situation. My last paper for Popular Culture dealt with the use of the bashing scene in Young Adult Literature dealing with gay males. I interviewed the authors who all responded by the way. I felt terrible because I strongly criticized the over use of this convention. I found out quickly that they were happy because their work was getting the spotlight. I said that one book had romance conventions so of course the main characters had to suffer before the happy ending. Instead of getting pissed off, he thanked me and quoted me because it gave his book more litery value. When the critics which have a sharper tooth than I do slammed him, he used my analysis as a defense. I hope for the best for you. You just never know or worse it sounds like you do.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 2nd, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thanks. That is helpful. Part of the problem with the guy I'm writing about is that he has been written about a great deal and is also an accomplished writer himself. He doesn't need the publicity. So it's easier for him to tee off.
jakemacalister From: jakemacalister Date: August 2nd, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oh, I know a little about that I quoted ME Kerr and she was very specific about the context of her quote. Still not the powder keg you seem to be strattling. Good Luck, CB.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 2nd, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
My powder keg is very smart and very clued in to possible misrepresentation.
xmoonbunnyx From: xmoonbunnyx Date: August 2nd, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Right now I'm facing deadline for an article, too, and it's making me anxious because I just don't know how to start. I always feel like the beginning of any piece is the most difficult -- and I can't just skip it and go back. Usually intros in journalism are easy because you're just using ledes, but I'm working on a feature piece... so it has to be different.

Writing to please others is crap... but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. In poetry class I felt like I was writing everything a certain just so my TA would like it and give me an A. Poetry's too subjective for grading.

Naturally we all want people to like our writing, though... but there will always be someone who won't like it. *Shrugs* Who cares?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 2nd, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm not worried about people not liking it. But the subject not liking it, that bothers me. As for as intros go, I have the same struggles. I end up writing several most of the time and then usually go for what gets to the point fastest. It takes so much work, though. Whom are you writing for?
xmoonbunnyx From: xmoonbunnyx Date: August 3rd, 2006 04:42 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
RedBlue magazine ;)
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