And one of the things I remember is that there were loads of things I wanted to do that I couldn’t do.
I wanted to drive a car.
I wanted to find a secret passage to Narnia.
I wanted to wear makeup.
I wanted to see fairies.
I wanted to get locked in a grocery store overnight. (Which would have inevitably led to death by overdose of Reddi-Wip and Hostess cupcakes, in which case you would not be reading this entertaining blog entry. Sometimes it’s not bad when dreams don’t come true.)
Needless to say, I learned pretty early on that just because I wanted to do something… that did not in any way mean I would end up getting to do that thing.
This lesson I have retained. Recently it has come to my attention that there are many people who have
- not learned this lesson or
- not retained it.
I have a couple of editing gigs where I answer to other people. It is my misfortune that among these people are some who fit category a and/ or b above.
So when I was being taken to task by a committee for not covering a major event, and I told the committee that I had planned not only to cover that event, but to make it the centerspread of the publication in question—only no one would return my phone calls! So then I bumped the story back to a photo essay on page 2, only—literally—no one returned my phone calls. So then the major event ended up a series of photos on the back page… As I was saying, when I told the committee this chain of events, you should have seen the shock! The dismay! The incomprehension!
It never occurred to them that I might want to cover a story—but be unable to.
Same thing yesterday. After tearing apart the story budget I’d worked on for months… had made assignments for… had edited for… had virtually brought to fruition (two pieces—that’s right, TWO PIECES were not yet turned it; everything else—you read it right, THE ENTIRE PUBLICATION was otherwise FINISHED), my boss suggested a handful of new story ideas to fill in the blanks that our recent meeting had just created in my formerly beautiful budget.
Story ideas that had occurred to me, too.
Story ideas I’d tried to pursue.
Story ideas that had fizzled into non-stories.
In many ways, writing features is easier than writing fiction. You get to mix it up with other people, and they provide you the material; all you have to do is shape it into a pleasing form. But I feel compelled to point out, for those of you who suspected otherwise, that fiction has its benefits, too—not least of which is the fact that if you want to write something, you can. Let’s hear it for fiction! (Also tequila. But that’s another entry entirely.)