Michael Jordan Listening to The 1975
How to pitch anything, "astroturf" movements, (funny) improv, when not to write, bringing back the fiction.
Brady Gerber’s “7 For Seven”: Seven links on writing and creativity in your inbox by 7 AM EST every (possible) Wednesday. New fiction published on the first Friday of every month. Read on your browser here. Want to help? Tip me for coffee, ask me a question, and share this dang thing.
Please let me have this
It’s Wednesday morning. Oof.
And thank you to everyone who answered last week’s survey! I appreciate your answers and feedback, all of which will help guide and grow this newsletter. It means a lot. And I do want to hear from you. For another week, I’m going to leave the survey link open if you haven’t filled it out yet, which takes less than a minute.
Also, new fiction this Friday! I’m also lifting the “flash” part and will be publishing longer fiction from here on out. Stay tuned.
Also also, some more housekeeping: One of the cool features about Substack - something that wasn’t possible with TinyLetter - is its discussion threads. Now you can like and comment on individual newsletters, which makes “7 For Seven” interactive in a way not possible before.
Friends: I want you to like and comment on these newsletters, which you can do at the bottom of each newsletter on your web browser. Seriously! I think this is such a cool feature, and I want to see what can come from it. I would love to hear from you all. Now:
I think this question is very good for this very professional newsletter.
Now then, away we go … Here are seven things to make your week more interesting:
Kate McKean’s newsletter has been a longtime favorite here, and this recent edition goes over a few issues about bad pitches that editors at NYT and other major places keep seeing.
(This isn’t a great time to freelance with so many publications freezing their freelance budgets, yet knowing how to write a solid pitch is helpful any time.)
“A bad pitch is not the same thing as a bad story idea.”
Bandcamp, one of my favorite places to buy music, is once again waiving revenue to support artists on the first Friday of the next three months.
(So the next three short stories you read by me should be a reminder to buy stuff on Bandcamp :p)
Fellow Substack writer Donna-Claire Chesman, who also writes a lot about the craft on writing, on when not to write.
“I have to remind myself I am worthy of kindness in the form of a break. So often, I equate the difficulty of writing and suffering to the big Must Haves of life. As in, I must suffer for my art. But that’s just not true.”
I’m tempted to start a “This week in CJR” section since I’ve been sharing so much from them lately. This week: A deep dive into the current “astroturf” protests - a series of “fake” self-isolating protests following a long line of gatherings throughout history that, intentionally or not, are portrayed by both politicians and media as legitimate grassroots movements.
(tl’dr this photo - which, according to its original photographer in this interview, has blown out of proportion even by pandemic-levels.)
"I think it’s important that people remember when you see pictures … that’s a fraction of a second out of 10 seconds that I stood there.”
To make up for not having ESPN and not being able to watch the new Michael Jordan documentary, this David Halberstam feature from 1998 about the end of Jordan’s career is pretty special. I don’t write about or follow sports, yet I know exactly what’s going on, and I feel like I’m right in the action. That’s the sign of good writing.
(A lesson I learned a while back: read as many old features as you can. Both to see the kinds of writing that still reads well and what hasn’t aged well.)
There’s also this:
“The athlete you remind me of the most is Jake LaMotta,” the Bulls’ owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, told Jordan one day, referring to the fearless middleweight fighter of another era, “because the only way they can stop you is to kill you.”
“Who’s Jake LaMotta?” Jordan answered.
And finally, I fell for the new Middleditch & Schwartz special on Netflix - there’s something wonderfully low-stakes about two comedians being … funny. This Vulture feature breaks down their relationship, the “shame” of improv (and doing art for fun and not always for profit), and an underrated attribute: physical comedy.
“At the core of this shame is the cynicism adults feel toward the naïveté of youth. Improv joins hobbies like a cappella, slam poetry, magic, and ultimate Frisbee as the indulgence of a person not in the real world. Or, to put it another way: Improv doesn’t make money.”
Brady writes about music (and other things) and draws cartoons. You can find him in New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, Interview, Pitchfork, McSweeney’s, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, and more. Check out his website, where you’ll find his reading list this year, his latest pieces, and more ways to connect. (He’s a freelancer for hire who can do interviews, reporting, criticism, and playlists - get in touch if you need a writer!)
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