Imagine if a philosopher or historian or literature professor could show mass-TV audiences the inner workings of things that are not science—from the assumptions of economics to the greatness of the great books to the sociocultural complications of canon-building to the cultural coding of Duck Dynasty. Imagine if they factchecked movies like Spiderman and Gravity for ethical and intellectual lapses with the geeky gusto that Tyson displays in factchecking the films’ scientific content. Imagine if we live-tweeted these professors’ lively, decidedly untraditional lectures and Q&As and documentaries the way we did with Tyson’s.
Imagine if, owing to these liberal arts communicators, people dreamed about discovering the next great writing style, or using principles of art history to illuminate modern advertising, or building a neo-Kantian theory of relations between states, or uncovering new archival evidence of America’s history, warts and all.
Who are those superstars? Where are they? And without them, where are we?
The wait is almost over! Seven pallets of these showed up at the warehouse today!
I never liked that term, “transmedia,” because it’s been used to describe a marketing ploy that involves placing teasers and ads for shows (and other products) all over the web, on phones, and on twitter – material that is developed as ancillary and not intrinsic to the show itself. Being annoyed by multi-media marketing is certainly not new. Then I interviewed Emmy-winner Jay Bushman who was working on re-framing television drama while keeping all the classic story telling elements and letting them stretch out into a contemporary space. First, let’s back up to meeting him because it reveals something about who is out there on the edge. A current student in one of my writing classes, who is 22, mentioned that she had a part time job as a transmedia editor. I asked for an introduction to the guy she was working for. So he and I arranged to meet at a local café. There I was scanning the room for what I assumed would be, essentially, a male version of my very young student. Or maybe he’d be someone with tattoos and piercings and a shaved head, or dreadlocks. I waited and waited. Did he ditch the interview? Finally I realized that only one other person was here alone: a man with graying hair. That was Jay Bushman. So much for stereotypes.
Check me out with my greying hair and my defiance of stereotypes. 🙂
Writing Advice from Joanna Rakoff
Fiction and non-fiction writer Joanna Rakoff will be presenting at WWLA: The Conference as part of the panel “Oh, the Humanity!: Creating Complex Characters on the Page.”
Joanna shared a few pieces of writing advice, for us brave, enthusiastic and talented:
1. A couple of years ago, I read a profile of Jodi Picoult, whom I’d never heard of at the time, and I’ve never read a word she’s written (and likely never will). She described her approach to writing as “ass in chair.” I was at a rough point with my new book and it was enormously helpful to tell myself “ass in chair” — in other words, just sit there and write. Truth is, it worked, I broke through and the rest of the book came quickly.
2. This summer, Jamie Quattro quoted one of her mentors as saying that a story needs to have the same level of urgency as a close friend sitting down with you, leaning across the table, and saying, I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING RIGHT NOW. This basically encapsulates my own feelings about all writing—for me, even a book review, an essay on waste removal, needs to have that urgency, that sense of a larger framework—and it was hugely helpful to have it tossed back at me in a different form.JOANNA RAKOFF is the author of the novel A Fortunate Age, which won the Goldberg Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Editors’ Pick, a winner of the Elle Readers’ Prize, and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller. Her memoir, My Salinger Year, is out in June. She’s written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Marie Claire, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications.