Today has been..[sigh]…a day. In the last 48 hours, the number of people who have totally flaked on scheduled interviews with me can barely be counted on one hand. They have caused me stress, wasted my time, made me miss deadlines and some actually cost me money. This happens on occasion, but rarely does it occur multiple times on the same day, much less then same project, which a couple of these instances were. Not all though. For whatever reasons, multiple sources from multiple stories for multiple publications all decided to hate me at the same time.
On a scale that includes world hunger and human rights abuses, my day hasn’t been that bad, but as I finally gave up and turned in the pieces in question, I felt the unsettled ache in my stomach of a passing nightmare. It was over, but it was still pretty bad. I might have had a little cry. I’ll probably soak in the tub in a bit, but first I had to share this little piece of wonderful that came out of the misery.
When a needed interview vanishes hours before a deadline, a writer must take to the internet to find “web content.” This is no easy task. There might be dozens of articles, blogs and websites that would prove the right point or support the narrative at hand, but the tricky thing about being a journalist is the source and quality of the content matters. The source has to be verifiable, legitimate, etc., and it takes some significant digging and fact checking. For this piece, I was searching everywhere from business news sites to eBay, and it was on eBay – where treasures are known to be found – that I encountered back copies of GMC Truck News, a General Motors magazine that was once in print. It was written by R.A. Sumpter, also known as Robert Sumpter, also known as my grandfather.
My aunt recently gave me a copy of GMC Truck News that Grandpa had given her before he died. She wanted me to have it, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. It’s not just that I am also a writer. I also, 50 years later, write a good deal of branded content for companies, very similar to what he did for General Motors. It wasn’t something I aspired to, it was just one of those lucky things I stumbled upon. Though I can’t ask him, as he died 15 years ago, I believe he would have said the same thing.
And as it turns out, there are more volumes of his work available on eBay. I sort of want to buy them all up. I might. Whether or not I do though, it feels so wonderful to know that his work is still out there, in the same industry as mine, and that I even had an assignment that caused the paths of our work to cross. That no-good, super-annoying, tear-inducing horror of an assignment. That I am so glad I received.
* I should clarify that there was nothing wrong with the assignment itself. It was an ordinary assignment that just happened to result in a torrent of bad luck. Life.