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Curling Up To An Interview
by Willma Willis Gore

A number of years ago, I moved to a small mountain community where my little family, years before, had hiked and enjoyed the great outdoors. The community I left had an active writer workshop that I had belonged to for years. I searched the local weekly of the new town for an announcement of a group that I might join. Finding a write up about the next week's meeting of ByLiners, I inquired. Within a month I was a member and seeking any opportunity to write that would bring in a few dollars,

Browsing the Family Life section of the metropolitan daily that brought the outside world to my little Crestline home, I read a write-up about a local family in which all members helped with the family business, including the five-year-old who was the "wastebasket engineer." At the close of the approximately 1000-word piece was a question in italics. Do you know an interesting family to profile for our Family Life Page? On inquiry, I learned that the pay was $50 for the interview and another $15 for the photo. And the column was published once a week. I was no stranger to using a camera as I'd always illustrated my published the travel pieces.

I discussed this opportunity with one of the ByLiners who suggested I interview her friends, the Andersons, who would be ideal subjects because all members participated in making handcrafts for sale. I queried the Family Page editor and got a go-ahead. The Andersons were agreeable, and we set a date for the interview.

Camera and notebook in hand, I checked my image in the mirror before leaving for the appointment. One lock of hair turned up in a stubborn flip. I dampened a pink Velcro curler and rolled the wisp against my head, turning my ring around as a reminder to remove curler and .comb before meeting my interviewees.

I prided myself on being on-time for all appointments and had allowed extra time to find the Andersons in a section of the community strange to me. The street numbers descended in order but the Anderson's townhouse number did not appear. I called Amy from a public phone. She apologized. Their residence was inside a large development with individual numbers. When I finally found the Anderson home, I was 15 minutes late, agitated and embarrassed.

A young girl of about eight answered the door. (I attributed her wide eyes to the fact that this was probably the first time she had been interviewed by "a writer.") She led me to the living room where the rest of the family waited. They answered my questions with rapt attention, seven pairs of eyes never leaving my face. They displayed a table of straw dolls, stuffed animals, and hand-painted soap dishes. Since the paper would use only one photo, I assembled all members behind the display table, taking several shots to make sure I got one with the maximum of animated expressions.

I did not use glasses for taking notes but after shooting photos, I needed to double-check my typed list of interview questions. Pulling glasses from my purse, I reached up to loop the supporting necklace over my head. The back of my hand brushed the Velcro lump in my hair.

Laughing-what else could I do?-I pulled the curler from my hair and dropped it into my bag. The Anderson family joined me with relieved chuckles. The profile was published the next week, launching my "profiling" career that totaled 65 families within the two years before I moved again.

Will I "curl up" to another interview? Maybe. Remembering how a single curler, long ago, held the attention of seven people for an hour, I'm thinking that a head covered in pink curlers could be effective when I speak to my next career-search class of sixteen-year-olds about "Good Interviewing Techniques."

© Copyright 2008, Willma Willis Gore

At age 87, Willma Gore is still writing daily (having sold her first article at age 19) with her most recent book Long Distance Grandparenting, released by an advance/royalty publisher in Nov. 2007. She welcomes visits to her blog and website: http://willmagore.com/blog/ www.willmagore.com

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