So, I’m not sure how other newspapers work, but at the ones I’ve worked at, producing content has always been a maniacal planning game.
You brainstorm story ideas, assign them knowing only 70% will be done, with 25% of those being dropped due to lame excuses and the other 5% coming in a day later than you needed it.
Occasionally I found myself playing a numbers game. I would assign several stories all due on one day like a month away. All of the writers were down with that deadline, since they had an entire month to screw it up, so I would end up with like seven stories all “coming in” on one magical day, even when I knew four would suffice along with whatever breaking news came up between assignment day and “coming in” day.
Then, when 70% came in I had enough to put together a decent paper because I had overbudgeted. It was a fun method I discovered through trial and error and the two times it worked, I had bonus stories rolling in for a week as that other 25% rolled in. I had excess content and life was good. Goddammit I love bonus stories.
But, as I said, that only happened like twice. Ever.
Most of the time, I spent my news career running on empty. No content. No “real” news. The knowledge that if the writer doesn’t hand in her story I’m going to have to write two to replace it along with the impending decision on whether I should write those two stories or just hop in my car and drive as far away from the office as I can…
And that’s how I feel like I’m living now: emptily. It seems like every day I wake up and I have just enough energy to get myself through classes, work, breathing and finally back to bed. If anything bad happens, like I don’t get a fork with my lunch or I remember some assignment I had forgotten about, I’m faced with a decision to either press on or run away. Recently, I’ve considered running. One moment can make me feel like my entire life has been derailed and I can’t conceive any way to get it back on track that doesn’t involve alcohol or sleep.
I know I’m over school, and this final semester will be both my easiest academic endeavor and my most challenging, but shouldn’t there be something else to get me through this besides wanting to graduate? I’ve never needed so much motivation before.
Life just feels more lonely than it used to and I really want a bonus story.