Ah, yes. I love my job because sometimes I get to write articles with fascinating story lines, long-ish word counts, and fantastic pictures. Like this one for the New York Times Autos section, on the Allure of the Automobile at Portland Art Museum this summer.
The cars themselves were great, beautiful, worthy of art museum treatment. But the really interesting part came in talking to Don Urquhart, who was in charge of the logistics of bringing in some of the largest, heaviest passenger cars ever built. Also some of the most rare and expensive vehicles on the planet. No pressure.
I got to report this story in the way I like best. I did preliminary research and interviews to make sure I knew what I was talking about, then hung out at the museum for something like seven hours the day the first eight or nine cars were moved in. I watched Steve McQueen’s racing Jag drip oil onto the cardboard placed on the museum floor and heard the Le Mans-winning Ferrari get fired up. I watched a guy’s hand get pinched between an expensive outdoor statue and a more expensive 70-year-old tank of a car. I heard his friend make fun of him.
I had written a draft with 400 words too many the week before; when I got home that night, I had to add the precise details I had witnessed that day and cut lots of extraneous bits. I turned it in that night (only 200 words over my assigned count), it was on my editor’s desk in New York the next morning, and it was online — along with a gorgeous slide show by Leah Nash — by Friday.