DEATH IS NOT THE END
I'm working on a piece for The Portland Mercury due next week that's about an annual October event here in Portland, where a bunch of musicians get together for a night of Murder Ballads (a la Nick Cave). It's my first experiment with conducting an e-mail interview and attempting a strict Q&A. Previous interviews with Solex and Alan Sparhawk of Low were done over e-mail, but I wrote a bigger piece, stifled their voices with my poopy prose. I figured this article would be more interesting if I tried something different, because otherwise, with only 350 words, I'd likely just list all the people who are performing, explain the concept, and then be done with it. Boring.
My first idea was to quiz the organizer, Jen Bernard, on her knowledge of murder trivia, and even enlisted the Oni board ghouls to help me find some interesting tidbits. But then I realized I might end up with a bunch of non-answers if she didn't know what I was talking about. So I adapted the approach to something more organic--midway informational, midway death-obsessed.
Anyway, my point is supposed to be that the e-mail interview is a lazy technique for the interviewer. I began to suspect this when I was engaging in them as an interviewee. Now, I’ve done some with folks that are really good—Barb Lien, Chris Butcher, Sal Cipriano—and a recent one for Borderline that Andrew Cheverton conducted that was phenomenal. But, I’ve also noticed that many folks cut and paste the entire exchange and do nothing with the text. They don’t edit it, they don’t clean it up, they just run it. Resulting in embarrassing typos and poorly worded sentences, and other gaffs that the reporter and the editor should have caught. It’s not my job to proofread, and essentially, you typed about one sentence to my every paragraph, so what in the end do you actually do?
Believe me, I am editing this piece. I am fashioning it into something cohesive. In fact, my problem is Jen did too good of a job answering me. All her responses are good, interesting, witty. There’s just too much. My first version, with a couple of questions cut out, came in way too high. Actually, given the subject matter, the first word count is just too weird—666. I had to cut it down to 350; I gave up at 365.
Of course, I’m doing this for an editor who just looked at this site and wrote me to tell me I am the biggest dork ever. Thanks, Julianne! Now I know what it’s like to work for an asshole like me. And I mean that in the fondest way possible. xoxo