How an interview disaster turned into an article for The Writer
Published: February 24, 2006
|In the April 2006 issue of The Writer, Susan DeBow offers an amusing look at how personal embarrassments can become the stuff of marketable freelance articles. As a sidebar, Writer senior editor Ronald Kovach offers this additional example of how a personal debacle can turn into an article. |
Another disaster--and more redemption--occurred when, as a jazz fanatic in my mid-20s, I landed a freelance interview with Oscar Peterson, one of the greatest jazz pianists in history, whom I idolized. I watched his performance at the Cleveland Playhouse and afterward sat down with him for one of the most exciting interviews of my life.
Oscar was the finest subject an interviewer could ask for: warm, articulate, intelligent and generous in his responses.
Which, of course, I was getting all down on my tape recorder.
Except that I wasn't. Having managed to set the levels wrong on my primitive tape recorder, I later found that I had lost the entire interview.
Being 25 or so, I thought that life would not go on, and I almost smashed that tape recorder to bits.
Some 25 years later, I finally managed to turn this painful memory into a useful article. Elfrieda Abbe, editor of The Writer, and I somehow got on the topic of the kinds of tape-recording disasters that virtually all experienced journalists have encountered. She described one of hers, I threw out my Oscar story, and something clicked: We realized this was a perfect topic for The Writer.
I wrote the introduction to the article based on my incident and we rounded up an array of entertaining anecdotes from writers around the country. The article, titled "When bad things happen to good interviews," was published in our May 2002 issue and is available online.
So when humiliating things happen, the moral here is clear: Don't kick things. Don't go hide in a closet (at least for too long). No--get thee to a computer.