Four years ago, I emailed Jeff Pearlman for advice. Now I’m published beside him. And I think that’s super cool.

I was just checking out SB Nation Longform‘s website and noticed that my story about Billy Dillon was set up right beside Jeff Pearlman’s recent and super excellent piece about Ricky Bell.

Four years ago, I’d just graduated from college and was hard at work on my first book. My mother-in-law gave me Jeff’s book about Roger Clemens, The Rocket That Fell To Earth, because the book I was writing was also a biography of sorts, and she’d seen an article in TIME magazine talking about how great The Rocket was, so she bought it for me. (She’s awesome like that.)

I saw Jeff’s website on the book jacket, checked it out, and saw his email posted right there on the front page. So I emailed him something like, “Hey, I’m a guy trying to make it in journalism and am writing a book blah blah blah blah I have questions blah is it cool to email you blah blah?” He emailed back the same day, I think, saying, “Fire away.”

So fire I did. Question after question after question for years. Jeff played a huge part in helping me through that first book and in helping me understand what it really means to be a journalist. Before I’d emailed him, I was always telling my wife, “If I could just get to talk to one of these successful journalists about how they do what they do, then I feel like I could really figure this stuff out and get pretty good at it.”

I’ve been really lucky to talk to a lot of good journalists since then, but Jeff was the first. He even gave an interview to my small hometown newspaper about my book when it was published.

And now, in no small part because of him, I’m making a living as a writer, and I’m working on my second and third books, and we’re both published side-by-side on a website and I just thought that was kind of cool … so I wrote this random blog post about it.

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