3 min read

Cord Jefferson, Milan Kundera, terrible basketball, petunias

Originally published February 1, 2021

Hello internet friends!

The dots

  1. Journalism experience can inform and inspire other work
  2. What about the shitty SECOND draft?
  3. Notes on The Art of the Novel by Milan Kundera
  4. An atrocious 20 minutes of basketball on Jan 25 (ASU lost to Arizona)
  5. Growing petunias in Arizona
  6. Bookmarked because of the title: "Why It Pays to Be Grumpy and Bad-Tempered"
  7. Perspective shift: Support someone to do something difficult

[Caption: A collage I made on white paper with the words: “Not all / writing can / be / found” glued onto scraps of blue paper]

How do they connect?

1 & 3: Cord Jefferson and Milan Kundera

Cord Jefferson (writer for The Good Place, Watchmen, other excellent tv) came from journalism to TV and has said the journalism background was helpful to him. So he's starting a fellowship to help other journalists get into TV.

I'm reading the Art of the Novel by Milan Kundera (found via Matthew Salesses's book Craft in the Real World), and Kundera talks about the purpose of the novel: "The sole raison d'être of a novel is to discover what only the novel can discover." My understanding is that if I'm convinced the novel only discovers certain things (that I've experienced by reading only what I've read), then I'm limiting the novel.

The connection is -- what's possible? A lot more than current systems support, in many cases. Jefferson is working to expand what’s possible for journalists interested in writing for TV. Kundera is writing to remind us that a lot more is possible in the novel than we may think.

2 & 6: Shitty Second Drafts and Grumpiness

There's a lot of talk about the shitty first draft, and that's fine. What I'd like to raise awareness around is the possibility of the shitty second draft. And, maybe even the shitty third and fourth. I'm currently experiencing the slog through a not great second draft, and I'm a little bit grumpy about it. I would have liked more warning (lol.) It makes complete sense: drafts will continue to be slightly less shitty or shitty in different ways until arriving at the final draft. But still. All the talk about the shitty first draft lulled me into thinking drafts would improve from there.

Also, terrible photo caption of the day (from the Grumpy article): Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a large repertoire of signature insults, such as "if I hear that idea again, I'm gonna have to kill myself." That’s awful for so many reasons. I don’t think that’s just “being grumpy.”

4 & 5: Basketball and Petunias

I watched one of the worst halves of basketball ever last week—Arizona State (my alma mater) vs. University of Arizona (our rivals). We couldn't shoot to save ourselves. U of A scored the first 12 points. ASU missed their first 12 shots and didn't score for the first seven minutes of the game. I told my husband that's why I could never play a sport like this: I'd want to quit if we were down by 22 at the half.

That gets me to petunias: Petunias aren't ideal for growing in Arizona. They need a lot of water. Yesterday, I ran by a house with a front-yard filled with petunias. They were bright pink and thriving. They stood in stark contrast to the low-water desert landscaping of the neighboring yards. The amount of effort to keep those petunias happy -- I don't even want to think about it.

But sometimes, there is a reason to keep going forward even when everything tells you to quit. Petunias in the desert? Being down by 22 points at the half? Brutal. The human spirit of perseverance doesn't make sense sometimes.

7 & Previously: Running is hard till it isn’t

Remember how I said a few weeks ago that the first 5k of my run was always the hardest? Yesterday I ran two 5k loops, and I felt great. I was also with my mom, who was running a marathon. Whatever aches I usually feel were sidelined because it wasn't about me -- it was about helping my mom keep pace, giving her some energy, and projecting confidence. The perspective shift was enough to make me experience something routinely meh (a 5k) differently.