On his weblog where he writes about writing, Esquire's
[S]omeone like Albert Pujols is obviously an outstanding baseball player, but I think it would be very hard to write a good profile about him. I’d be willing to bet that the bullpen catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers would make for a more interesting story. That dude—and I just looked him up: Marcus Hanel, who apparently has enormous hands—would be my pick every time.
This is wonderful advice if you are the baseball beat reporter covering the Milwaukee Brewers for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and you are looking for something extra to put in the newspaper while everyone's waiting for the Brewers to get around to starting the season. It is also wonderful advice if you are writing tenderly crafted profile stories on your own typewriter, at home, to staple together and pass out to your aunts and uncles. Assuming you have the scratch for airfare to Arizona, to go see the Brewers. Write what you love!
It is, in fact, great advice for any writer who wishes never, ever to compete with Chris Jones for the finite amount of space and money available for feature writing in major American magazines. In the introduction to this blog post, Jones wrote that he was reminding himself of his rules of profile writing because he was
sitting in my hotel room in Santa Barbara waiting for my appointed time with our May cover subject.
Here are the last 12
subjects: Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Minka Kelly (the 2010 "Sexiest Woman Alive"), Javier Bardem, James Franco, Bill Clinton, Tom Cruise, Christina Hendricks, Tina Fey, Leo DiCaprio.
No one will be more thrilled than I will if Chris Jones goes off the reservation and interviews Marcus Hanel, bullpen catcher of the Milwaukee Brewers, and somehow forces his bosses at Esquire to put it on the cover of the May issue. If Marcus Hanel is on the cover, I will find Chris Jones and pour him a manly drink of congratulations, writer to writer, from my own personal bottle of Pikesville Rye. I might even buy a copy of Esquire.
Otherwise? Tell it to your priest, pal. You're in the Albert Pujols business.