Sometimes it happens: you see the perfect story for a publication you're familiar with, at a time that hits the zeitgeist in a way that's a touch provocative, completely relevant, and yet not so out-there that it doesn't have mass market appeal.
And yet, something holds you back. It's a busy week. There are other stories. Or worse, you develop the pitch but decide to look at it again in the morning, with fresh eyes.
And then, when the morning comes and you step out to the porch to get the paper, you see your idea on the front page (teased -- I'm a "lifestyle" writer, after all).
It's easy to curse these moments, and yet, with more thought the situation can be seen in a more positive light. While I missed the byline and subsequent paycheque, in this biz I have to be a bit of a Pollyanna. So I've developed a few ways to remain optimistic at the whole missed pitch:
1. Confirmation of news judgement: If someone else thought of it, and you thought of it, and the story ran, then you're doing something right. (Just not enough of it.)
2. Getting on with the 'geist: Sometimes a story/ issue engages the writer so much that they think it marks some pivotal moment in humankind. It's rarely true, and often leads to fruitless searching for new ways to explore the issue, so missing a story might just a be an efficient -- if not financially productive -- way of avoiding all that.
3. No need to wait for that cheque: OK, I'm reaching here. A late cheque is better than no cheque at all, right?
4. Motivation for the next time I'm up to bat: Don't let it happen again! Fire off that pitch, follow up if you don't get a response, but don't let it happen again.
Don't blame your gumption (or lack of). Don't analyze the freelance budget. Just pitch, and pitch often.
(And always take your own advice.)