You guys ever read Grantland? I read it all the time. It’s great, a professional web site dedicated to long form essays about sports and pop culture. The sports stuff is perfect for a guy like me. I like sports, and I want to be up-to-date about what’s going on in the sports world, but I don’t always have the attention span necessary to watch full games or follow complete seasons. And for whatever reason, ESPN doesn’t do the trick, I can’t seem to latch on to Sports Center or any of those other sports/news programs.
Grantland covers what’s going on in sports while at the same time peppering its front page with headlines about blockbuster movies or professional wrestling. It’s enough to keep me engaged while simultaneously providing me with enough knowledge of pro sports to prevent me from sounding like an idiot the next time I try to chime in on a sports related conversation at work.
But the more I grow attached to Grantland, the more painful it becomes to read. All I see is this awesome web site where likeminded writers contribute with long blocks of text about all of the stuff that I’m interested in. Instead of walking away from a Grantland session feeling satisfied with having consumed something entertaining, I’m left with this empty yearning, an almost indefinable envy.
Like, why can’t I be a part of Grantland? Hey, Bill Simmons, are you reading this? Of course you’re not reading this. I’m writing this whiney complaint on my personal web site, hoping that if I sprinkle enough searchable keywords, (Grantland, Bill Simmons, Grantland, Grantland, Grantland,) the wondrous properties of the Internet might somehow make this blog post pop out from obscurity, to magically appear in front of the eyes of someone with some power, someone in charge of hiring writers to write for Grantland.
Because it kills me to read Grantland, to have that feeling like, I could do that. I could write really, really, really long essays about my favorite TV shows, or what I like about comic books. I do it every day, right here on this blog.
But professional writer, how do you get to be a pro writer? Everything I’ve read online, advice from writers who’ve succeeded in making a career out of their words, it’s always along the lines of, “Write every day. Keep writing. Eventually something is going to happen.” And I don’t know, I don’t want to be too negative, I know that I can’t just expect my wildest dreams to come true because I want them really badly, but it hasn’t happened yet.
I’ll read Grantland, I’ll browse Gawker, I’ll watch a funny episode of The Colbert Report, and every time I find myself really immersed in an interesting point, or losing myself to one of those laughs where the muscles on the sides of my jaw begin to fail, my joy eventually turns to jealousy, without fail. Why can’t I be doing this for a living? Why do I have to be a spectator to this constant parade of cool stuff bombarding my senses at all times?
I’ve written cold-call letters to all of these outlets before, really long, well-written pieces to various editors of magazines and TV shows, all of them asking the same thing. Please, let me do what I’m doing right here, for you, for money, for a living. I’ve tried making these inquiries serious, or changing the tone to something more absurd. I’ve reached for clever, I’ve resorted to begging. And every single time, it’s the same exact reply: nothing.
Actually, not exactly nothing. One time when I was right out of college, I painted this giant oil painting of Stephen Colbert. I had it shipped to his studio with a note begging for a job in the graphics department, and a few short months later, I spotted my painting hanging on some wall in what had to have been a screen shot from a behind-the-scenes clip.
Whatever, I’m at a loss of what to do next. And yeah, it’s all pretty demoralizing, just wanting something so badly but never receiving any reply at all. Maybe I have to be even more persistent. Maybe I have to keep writing over-the-top letters, but on a more regular basis. That’s where you come in, Bill. No, I don’t blame you at all for not answering the personal request for employment from some guy on the Internet. You’re a famous television personality. If your mailbag is the tip of the iceberg that I’m imagining it to be, I’m sure you have like eight different email addresses all filled to the brim with crazy questions and random nonsense.
But I’m thinking that, if I can just get your attention once, like if by writing a personalized open letter on a fairly regular basis, maybe you’ll see how serious I am about writing for Grantland. It’ll be like when Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four had to somehow snag the attention of Galactus before the space lord devoured our planet whole. And these pieces will be my ultimate nullifier. How does once a week sound?
Obviously I’m hoping you see this in the future, after I’ve written like five or six months worth of material, you’ll see the latest letter, you’ll be like, “What is this stuff? How far does it go back?” and you’ll read every single post, all the way back to this sentence. And you’ll think, “Wow, this guy is serious.” And I am serious. I’ll write whatever you tell me to. When you say, “Write,” I’ll say, “How high?”
Unless somehow this first letter immediately goes viral. It’s totally unlikely, I know, but if it does and you wind up reading this right away, please be assured, I have every intention of keeping these letters up for as long as I’m alive. I’ll even write out a bunch of reserve letters to go up only in the case of an accident, something that would result in my untimely death. This way it’ll look like I’m writing from beyond the grave. I doubt that would help my career prospects at Grantland, but it would be a pretty cool Internet trick.
Bill, can I call you Bill? Mr. Bill, please give me a full-time writing job. Or anybody else. I’ll take it. (Can I have off next Monday? I’m going skiing.)