One of the hardest parts of every assignment is deciding what to leave out.
That’s never been more true than right now: My story about Greenville, N.C. coaching icon Marvin Jarman comes out at SB Nation Longform tomorrow (see this previous blog post about it), and I feel like I only used two percent of the material and interviews I gathered over the course of the past couple months.
I love talking to people. I love getting to know who I’m writing about as well as possible. And with Marvin, I probably talked to more people than I ever have for any one story.
More than 300 people left comments about Marvin on my Facebook page. I can’t even tell you how many emails and phone calls I got about him. So many people responded that other people started worrying that Marvin had died or something.
I saved almost all of those comments in a folder on my computer. I interviewed several people who left comments and talked to several others about interviewing them but simply ran out of time.
I have no idea how many hours I spent with Marvin and RV or how many hours I spent talking to people who know them.
I wish I could have fit it all in, but the story is 7,000 words long as is, which is a pretty good length for something like this. If I wrote it any longer — like I did in early drafts — it would have been so full of great details and anecdotes that it likely would have drowned the life out of it before you got to the end.
The goal of this story isn’t necessarily to be exhaustive, but rather to propel you through the story to Marvin Jarman’s heart, and land you on the final line in a way that moves you the way Marvin moves those who know him.
It hurts that I had to leave out so much, but ultimately, it was all about telling the best possible story. I think that’s what we’ve done here. And I’m so glad I got to write this. I just love what we’ve done with it, and I can’t wait for you to read it. It ended up becoming a story so much more than I first imagined. I could go on, but I’d rather you just read it tomorrow when it comes out. You’ll see what I mean.
If you emailed me or talked to me and I didn’t end up using most or any of what you had to say, don’t take it personally. Know it helped. Really.
One thing I needed to make sure of was that Marvin really is as special as I’ve always sort of sensed he was. You all helped with that in huge ways. Even if your name isn’t in the story, you still made a mark on it. Thank you.
Oh, and one more thing about that 98 percent I haven’t used: There’s a good chance you’ll end up seeing it somewhere else. I wasn’t sure whether to say this yet or not, but the heck with it, I’m too excited, and since you all helped so much with this story I feel like you deserve to be the first to know — I’m going to expand Marvin’s story into a book. It’s certainly worthy. Now, there are a lot of details to work out to make that happen — I’ll keep you posted as we go. But it will happen.
Marvin Jarman is one of the greatest characters I’ve ever heard of, not only in sports but in all of life. Getting to write about people like him is why I’m in this business.
So, once again: Thank you.