Freelance writing is a cruel mistress.
Locked away for the past week, with no outside contact other than concerned phone calls from friends, I've been pounding out nearly 20,000 words of material for the 2006-07 McKeen's Hockey Pool Yearbook (here's a look at last year's edition).
Toronto native Iain Morrell has published the magazine since 1994, and I've been picking it up at the newstand almost every year since then. McKeen's Hockey was one of the first organizations I started contributing to, back when I wrote WHL scouting reports based on what I'd seen at Kamloops Blazers games.
Now, fantasy publications are obviously not at the high end of the sportswriting scale, but I've always liked the book. While not flashy, McKeen's offers the most indepth player-by-player info you can get anywhere.
Want to know how Denis Arkhipov fared in Russia last season? They have had someone there watching him, and, yup, they'll have that. Or how about Anze Kopitar's first full Swedish Elite League season? Yes, it's there, too. Wondering what went wrong with Rostislav Olesz in Florida last year?
You get the idea.
Team-by-team reviews, stats, scouting reports, prospect analysis and, why, even fantasy projections.
The funny thing is, I think like a lot of hockey junkies, I've always read the magazine and thought: 'I could have done that better.' (Although I think that's a pretty common reaction for everyone when it comes to sportswriting.)
This time around, a lot of the writing was in my lap and it was a tougher go than I'd expected. Trying to juggle that kind of word production, make it high-quality and informative, provide info that will be valuable two months from now, meet a tight deadline and still work fulltime at TGAM?
It's impossible for me to judge my own work, but I hope those that pickup the magazine when it hits shelves in early September like what's there. The small staff work their tails off to put out a quality product, and often it's competing with offerings from far larger media outlets.
For my money, it's the best fantasy guide out there.