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Your Weekly Dose of EEE #21: Roy Kent Knows How to Write Good TV
Plus, Descendants car-aoke
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This week has been at once one of the most hectic and productive weeks I’ve had in a very long time. The beginning was packed with meetings and appointments, and I am seeing some pretty exciting things shaping up. Now, at the end of the week, I have some time to just sit down and write. Which is exciting and relaxing all at the same time.
What’s Exciting Me?
When We Were Mothers is still selling some copies and garnering some reviews, which is exciting considering the only marketing I’ve done around the book is mentioning it in some online spaces and attending a few book clubs. I’m actually seeing book clubs as a really fun opportunity to meet readers and get real about the themes of the book and their (often unnerving) connection to what’s going on in society today.
In fact, I attended a book club meeting this Saturday and just scheduled another (paying!) appearance for later this year. I always find I connect with readers on a personal level that goes beyond the words I wrote down over the four years I spent with Lucinda and Emeka.
Are you in a book club? I’d be happy to attend a meeting where you talk about When We Were Mothers. If you’re local to the Boston area, I can come in person, but if you’re not, I’m happy to attend virtually, too! (Which reminds me, we’re overdue for another Zoom hang! I’ll use a professional account this time, I promise.)
What’s Entertaining Me?
📺 I continue laugh-sobbing at each episode of Shrinking. There is just so much authentic treatment of difficult emotions in this show, and I love how the characters eventually tackle them head-on. There’s no illusion that it’s easy to confront sadness, guilt, or other “negative” feelings, but rather they move—often messily—through avoidance and externalization and eventually arrive at a place where the only option is to face themselves or lose something/someone important to them. The modeling of productive work through a messy and difficult process is something we need more of in popular culture.
Also, the characterization is spectacular. When I realized last night that Brett Goldstein (who played Roy Kent and wrote for Ted Lasso) was a writer, it all made sense. Every single character is well-thought-out, tender in their own way, and believable. Even Derek (Ted McGinley), husband of the nosy neighbor, Liz (Christa Miller), is more than just the stereotypical bumbling husband I usually despise. (See: David Duchovny in You People.) He’s got depth and a backbone, and he plays along with Liz’s playful narcissism because he has clearly decided what is and is not worth his time. But when he needs to take a stand, he does it in a way that is so in line with his character it’s believable and unbelievable all at once.
📖 I’m halfway through both Simon K Jones’s No Adults Allowed and Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson.
No Adults Allowed is pulling me right along, wondering what is going on, who is in charge (there are so far no characters over the age of 16 in this post-apocalyptic world, and none of them have ever met anyone older), and what comes next.
Black Cake is great and well-told. The timeline jumps around from 1965 to present time, with flashbacks from more recent past, but I don’t find it hard to follow at all. I’m listening to the audiobook, and the narration is also really great. I love to hear the Patwa and the “West Indies” accents of the Caribbean characters. The storytelling mechanism is a video letter from a deceased mother to her two adult children, and it examines the complex emotions and different sides to many family stories. So far, I’d recommend it. I’m going away with my book club next weekend to discuss (and maybe to eat some black cake), and I’m looking forward to finishing ahead of that New Hampshire.
🎶 I promised I’d bring you more P!nk last week, and I’m listening to her latest music right now, but I don’t have anything groundbreaking to share with you. Instead I’ll share a fun (for me) and embarrassing (for my 10-year-old) time from last weekend.
My daughter chose to take three friends to lunch and a movie for her birthday. Rather than sitting in awkward silence (they’re still at that age), we decided to put some music on. She was worried we wouldn’t find something they all loved, but it only took a few seconds to realize that we (yes, we) all had a love of Descendants soundtracks (yes, all of them). If you haven’t seen Disney’s Descendants, it’s a tween-aged movie about the children of the Disney villains, all of whom live on the Isle of the Lost and some of whom are participating in an integration program at the school on the mainland where the “heroes’” kids go. It has some important themes and is mostly pretty cute.
The soundtracks are catchy and the kids love them and, more importantly, this Cool Mom knows every single word (and has a pretty good voice). So that was fun (for me).
I’m “I’m going to see Matchbox 20 next weekend” years old, and so expect to hear about some of their newer music next week if I can find some time to listen between now and then.
📝 I’m going to start sharing essays and newsletters that have had an impact on me in this section, starting with “You don’t lose hope, because you can’t,” by. Reading this story took me way back to the days when my oldest needed brain surgery when she was two. Not a story I’m going to share here, at least not today, but Jeannie captures perfectly the loneliness and terror of handing the most precious and fragile and important human in your life over to someone who says they can make things better. It’s a trust fall whose results are usually not immediately visible, and that just adds to the terror of the moment. I hope you enjoy this essay!
What’s Enlightening Me?
This is silly and boring and not nearly as deep as I usually go, but maybe we could all use a break from the deep.
I found earlier this week that scheduling my activities—at least, in moderation—really helped me stay on track with everything I had to get done. I’m in the midst of applying for grants, courses, and awards for my news publication, and in addition I’m working to make connections with people and get some work done for my day job, and scheduling all those things into my calendar and giving myself time to work on the deliverables has been tight but ultimately really productive.
It makes me wonder if I should schedule in my writing tasks too, or if that would just blur the lines (since I’m very flowy with my writing time) and lessen the impact of having a schedule. What do you think? Do you prefer to know exactly what you’ll be doing and when, or do you just allow your tasks to fill the space they fill?
Let me know your thoughts about this and anything else you read today in the comments section.
See you next week!
P.S. I’m going to start sharing some relatable and unmissable stories some Mondays. Next week’s is really thought-provoking and connects closely to the themes When We Were Mothers. Can’t wait for you to read it!