Confession: I am really bad at pitching stories. Always have been. It’s what holds me back as a writer. I could easily tackle my issues with commas and hyphens if I had anything important enough to say, but the narrative drive isn’t there. I’d love to write a book but have no idea what to write about, and my journalism career stalls out when I can’t bring anything to the table.
I once interned at Texas Monthly, and one of the perks is that interns get to attend the pitch meetings. Interns can pitch story ideas as well, and it’s kind of a big deal to have one picked, so when Evan Smith came looking for me to shake my head, I was extremely giddy and had to call my mom. Even so, it was just the generic “I love Veronica Mars and Rob Thomas is from Texas so someone please interview him” story on my pitch sheet, not the other four painstakingly detailed proposals I had carefully crafted. I was not the only one to have suggested a Rob Thomas story, and it eventually became a reality around the same time the Veronica Mars movie did.
For a former journalist, I often wildly miss the point. The last few magazine stories I’ve pitched have fallen flat, except for the one that was picked up by another writer AFTER I had severed my relationship with that publication and totally may have just been the editor thumbing her nose at me.
One of my college professors once wrote a comment on my personal essay: complicated in an uninteresting way. That is me to a T. I tend to overthink things that don’t matter to anyone but me. The thing is, they matter deeply to me. They’re pretty much all I care about, what I spend my time thinking about, and what I write about when I have the choice. No one reads my stuff, but who cares? I’m staying true to myself, right? In the eloquent words of our president: Sad!
Like everyone else in the free world, I’m listening to S-Town right now, and in some way, the meandering story gives me hope. Like, if you stick with something long enough and have enough talent, you’ll someday give it shape and meaning and purpose and people will go nuts over it. But that’s only if you identify with the narrator of S-Town, the podcaster who crafted this story from a huge cast of characters and a range of disparate events that happened over several years, pulling it all into a cohesive seven episodes in a nice studio with some of the most talented people in the business and, oh yeah, a salary.
Sometimes, I identify most with John B., building shrub mazes in my backyard, ruminating over the world’s problems, and never getting anywhere.
Imagination should be used not to escape reality but to create it.
-Free Will Astrology