The Shots I Don’t Take

I’ve been left thinking lately about the stories I haven’t written for work, and the oddly zen practice of how that has shaped my day-to-day and my career as a whole. I’m not talking about turning down or ignoring so many of the PR emails I receive daily — so, so many, like you wouldn’t believe — but the stories that I actually research and work on that, for whatever reason, don’t end up making it to the finish line. There’s more of those than you’d think.

Part of this is, simply, you go into something researching the truth behind a rumor or something that someone has told you and it turns out not to be true. This is relatively common, honestly, and it’s at once frustrating and enlightening; your story might die, but at least you get to the truth of the matter, you know? There’s something to be said for that, even if you ultimately have to surrender all the work you’ve done up to that point.

(Very very recently, I was looking into something that would have been A Story in a very big way, and I was eagerly trying to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible so I could write it… but it turn out to be nothing, outside of some uninformed gossiping and people believing the worst of others. I was at once relieved and, honestly, upset.)

There are also stories that never see the light of day because of anxious editors or, worse, cautious lawyers; I’ve had that happen on a number of occasions, and that is far more upsetting, especially when it’s of particular importance to people personally. I get that publications don’t want to say that XXXXX XXXXXX is a manipulative asshole who has been accused of emotional abuse by previous partners for legal reasons or whatever, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are, and that people involved want their stories told. Alas.

One day, when I’m old and everyone has forgotten everything else, I should just put all of these unfinished, unpublished stories in a book and share them anyway. I’ll call it, Go Ahead and Sue Me, I’m an Old Journalist and Have No Money, Fuckers.

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