Steve Pokin has a knack for getting people to talk. Would you tell him your life story? (Photo by Dean Curtis)

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It's no surprise to me that not everyone wants to tell me their life's story.

In recent months, several people have declined my offer to write an in-depth profile of them.

The rejection has made me wonder how comfortable I would be sitting down with a journalist who wants to hear my story and tell it publicly in the way he or she —not me — chooses.

What parts would make me squirm? Embarrassed?

What parts might be hurtful to my wife and son?

Most certainly, I have not always been kind, considerate and thoughtful.

Would I include these less-than-flattering plot points of my life?

Thus far, Hal Higdon and Christie Love have opened up to me. Higdon is the chancellor of Ozarks Technical Community College; Love is pastor of The Connecting Grounds, the church she founded.

I've written in-depth profiles of them since the Hauxeda launched in February. I am grateful they trusted me to be fair in deciding what to include and what to leave out in my attempt to capture who they are today and the paths they've taken.

Among those who have declined, is writer Nancy Allen.

She is a best-selling author who has collaborated with the one-man publishing enterprise known as James Patterson, who is money-in-the-bank when it comes to fiction writing.

In addition, Allen was an assistant Greene County prosecuting attorney and an instructor at Missouri State University.

I heard Allen speak a few weeks ago at the Plaster Student Union on the Missouri State University campus. She has a new book out. It's written by her alone and called “Renegade.”

I set my sights on profiling her despite the fact she is prohibited from discussing the details of her partnership with Patterson. In choosing subjects, I try to avoid people who have designated multiple parts of their life as off limits.

(Although I make an exception if it's someone whose name happens to be known throughout the Ozarks and who remains, basically, a mystery.)

Allen is smart, funny, gracious and she occasionally cusses.

She told me “No” for a reason I had not foreseen.

Why have Steve Pokin write her life story when she might do so herself in the future for what could be a boatload of money?

Makes sense.

John Lindell, lead pastor at James River Church in Ozark, has also declined.

I've been wanting to profile Lindell at least since we sat down together in his church office years ago and he covered several highlights of his remarkable life — but our discussion was off the record.

Similar to Allen, Lindell is likeable, has a keen sense of humor and is a gifted storyteller.

He knows that he and I don't read the Bible the same way; I shared that with him and I've occasionally shared my views on faith as a columnist.

Perhaps that's why Lindell does not want to share his life story with me — on the record, so that I would then be able to share it with you. His is a tale of perseverance and, as you might expect, faith.

Billy Long won't tell me his life story either

Billy Long won't tell me his life story either

Congressman Billy Long has also told me “No.”

I once criticized Long in a column for not being accessible to the general public and for ducking candidate forums. Maybe that's his reason.

Long is running for the U.S. Senate right now and maybe he thinks the stakes are too high for him.

Johnny Morris — founder of Bass Pro Shops, conservationist and one of the richest people in the nation — also has said, “Thanks but no thanks.”

A spokesman told me Morris prefers, instead, to talk about specific events and issues.
But that's not what I'm after. I'm after the story of his life.

I'm guessing Morris eventually will hire someone to write his story and the book will be phenomenally successful without being nuanced and without occasional shades of gray.

All lives have shades of gray where you find the details and surprises that drive a story.

A life has more than triumphs; it has challenges, moral ambiguities and regrets.

To be honest, I can't fully understand in advance why someone might not want to tell me their life story.

It could be that they have very good reasons not to do so.

I don't know what I don't know — meaning I have no idea what parts of a life have been deliberately hidden and will forever remain hidden.

With all that said, I am pursuing more profiles of local people. Some you might know and some you might not.

I'll do my best to listen and research. I'll let you know what I find out.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Hauxeda. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin