Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Microfilm Hell

This is me. Right now. At this very moment …

Photo on 7-21-14 at 5.43 PM #2I’m in a library. Deep down in the South. I’ve been in this spot—this exact spot—for four or five hours. I’ll be here until the library closes. Then I’ll return tomorrow morning.

It’s Microfilm Hell.

I hate microfilm. Hate, hate, hate it. I’m dizzy. I’m starving. My eyes are numb. There’s an annoying multiple-step process here, where first you have to fit the image, than assign it to a page, then press print, then wait 30 seconds for the paper to emerge. I’ve now repeated those motions, oh, 200 times. I. Am. Losing. My. Mind.

And yet … I know no other way. I’m no Walter Payton or Jerry Rice or Jerry Seinfeld. Not even in half the ballpark. But I’ve always loved their stated philosophies to success—take any talent you have, assume it’s not nearly enough, and use that as motivation to bust your ass harder than anyone else busts their ass. That’s why I do my own research 99 percent of the time, even though it tears apart my brain bits and turns me into a drooling troll by day’s end. I genuinely believe that my only chance at writing great books (not just good books) is to work as hard as humanly possible.

Scratch that. I’m not actually sure whether I can write a great book. Greatness, to be honest, is probably something that will always elude me as a journalist. But I can shoot for great, and hopefully find very good. Or excellent. Or … whatever.

I’m babbling. The point is, I could easily pay some college kid to sit here and go through the microfilm on my behalf. But would he know exactly what I’m seeking? No. Would the material be glued to my brain, for inevitable future use? No.

So here I sit.

In hell.