In high school and college, teachers and professors ramble on about the importance of getting organized.
I would carry an assignment notebook with me, so I knew when everything was due. Now I use one at work.
I fill spaces on my calendar with stories I plan to run weeks or even months ahead of time. I've learned that with feature stories, it's pretty much impossible to throw them together the day before they need to run.
Inevitably, something will fall through. The story subject won't answer his or her phone, and the front cover of the Saturday Magazine or the Sunday Living section will become a blank space on which children can color.
Although nothing is set in stone, planning ahead helps me sleep at night without having to think, "How am I ever going to fill my sections this weekend?"
Then, just when I think I have everything figured out, a PR rep will throw a stick in my spokes with a last-minute story idea, sending me toppling into a world of uncertainty.
Take Meat Loaf for example. Our entertainment and features reporter Dusten Rader was offered an interview with the rock star after I had already penned in story ideas on my calendar. I guess I should start using a pencil.
I couldn't let him turn down an interview with Meat Loaf with a good conscience for two reasons. First, I think many subscribers would like to read about him. Next, telling Dusten he had to turn down an interview with Meat Loaf wouldn't have been very nice.
Instead of him being able to tell friends and family, "I interviewed this guy" every time Meat Loaf came on the radio or TV, he would say, "I had a chance to interview him, but my editor wouldn't let me." I would become "the bad guy," which I try to avoid doing whenever possible.
Even if reworking my calendar makes my head hurt, doing a little shuffling worked out this time. Dusten had Meat Loaf talking about his show and the music business for quite a while, and he landed what I think are some pretty cool quotes.
If I were a bigger fan, I'd open up my wallet and drop $65 so I could attend the show. Instead, I'll make my next trip to Seneca Allegany Casino on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m. NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace will be signing autographs at an event that is free and open to the public.
Among the NASCAR merchandise in my apartment is a Rusty Wallace garbage can, which is sitting in my bathroom. (My brother was the Rusty fan in our family).
I'll probably find something else for him to sign, and if somehow Rusty wanted to do an interview with The Post-Journal, I'd be willing to rework my calendar.