Even though I had been working feverishly on my book for the last quarter of 2016, 2017 hit my creative trajectory like a wall. I was feeling a bit down on myself until I read The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, which ended up being awesomely inspiring and giving me a much needed dose of grace. The book, which I highly recommend, illuminates the spectrum and stages of creativity, not just knocking off creative talent to sprezzatura, but also inspired routine. Thus, my lack of output over the last couple of months is not a stagnation of creativity, but a stage of it. I’m in the “scratching” stage, the collection, the observation, and the unpacking of inspiration around me. I’m getting back into regular writing and editing, and these are the gems I have found in my scratching this week.
LISTEN: S-Town and You Must Remember This
Unless you’ve been leaving under a rock, S-Town is shaking the nation. S-Town from the same peeps as This American Life and Serial are back with a podcast investigating a murder cover up in a podunk town in Alabama, lovingly referred to as Shit Town. But the story becomes even more than that as the reporter unpacks the relationships, history and trials of his main contact, John B. It is such a beautifully wrought suspense, with injections of the best gallows/dark/vicious humor ever. I can’t stop telling everyone I see about it (as well as trying to mimic an Alabama accent). Please please listen.
Whereas S-Town is the middle America train wreck of despair, You Must Remember This’ Dead Blonde Series is the first class caboose. The series covers the tragic, seedy, urban decay of Hollywood’s blonde bombshells and their very often shocking demises, including Marilyn Monroe (of course), Jean Harlowe, Barbara Payton and others. It’s ridiculously well-researched, focused and interesting. Definitely one of my new favorites.
Sumptuous, daring and risque, Hulu’s original series, Harlots, starring Samantha Morton and Downton Abbey alum, Jessica Brown Findlay, finds it’s inspiration from the 1700s guides to London’s prostitutes, Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies. It tells of rivaling brothels and the salacious and powerful position held by madams of the time. The show is fully written and directed by only women and omg, they do such a killer job.
READ: 300 Words
300 words is contemporary non-fiction musings by literary artist Sarah Manguso. The short and incisive pieces of prose are the type that make you groan and hold the book to your heart as you feel everything you’ve ever felt. It’s easy to relate to, accessible and unique. (And of course read The Creative Habit.)
BONUS: The IG of Jamie Beck, my new idol, AnnStreetStudio