Am sitting in a middle-of-nowhere suburban Starbucks, frustrated.
Thus far, book reporting has been insanely smooth. I’ve conducted approximately 550 interviews, read through years and years of clips, spent time in bumblehell libraries searching for that much-needed history or reference. As I’ve noted before on this blog, back in the day I was a Grade-D reporter. Never dug, never pursued, thought stylish writing trumped detail and precision. Now, however, I live for the reporting; for morphing into a private eye (clap-clap) and tracking down the untrackable. It’s what I do best, andâ€”in this era of quick-turnaround and yell-as-loudly-as-possible journalismâ€”a sadly lost skill.
All that said, I’ve fallen short. This morning I was informed that a key, key, key person doesn’t feel like talking. It doesn’t mean he won’t talk in the future (in fact, he said he likely would), but time is running short. Truth is, a big part of being a journalist is learning to write around things. If someone doesn’t talk, it doesn’t kill a book or storyâ€”it just calls on you to think creatively and dig even deeper, reporting-wise.
For my Mets book, neither Strawberry nor Gooden would sit down with me (In his defense, Straw was imprisoned at the time). For my Bonds book, Bonds refused my overtures. So did Clemens with The Rocket that Fell to Earth. And Emmitt Smith wouldn’t go anywhere near Boys Will Be Boys. But this is different. The book I’m writing now is a definitive biography of someone I’d describe, simply, as “great.” If you know him, you want to talk about him. And 99.9% of people have.
But I’m missing one.