Don Draper's Journal

September 13, 2010

I got hooked on “Mad Men” in its third season and am still an avid fan. I returned to Season 1 on DVD and caught up with the rest on PTOD. I even get the program’s FB feed, so admiring am I of the writers, the production values, and the actors. I find the scripts complex and often watch an episode twice: once for pleasure, once to listen more analytically to the script. My screenwriter husband makes comments on second viewing which enhances enjoyment of what will be, I am certain, a classic television series.

Last night’s episode was particularly inspiring because our hero, Don Draper, has not descended into end-stage alcoholism but has started swimming and is keeping a self-reflective journal. The voice-over narration is lifted from the journal and we see him writing in it—a small, spiral bound book--as he sits at his desk by the casement windows in his bachelor apartment. We don’t know if he’s writing in the morning, evening, or on the weekends, but he is writing regularly, not for work but for himself.

For readers of this blog who have not as yet savored “Mad Men,” I won’t give away too much back story. Suffice to say, Don has never finished high school and has never before written more than short paragraphs of about 250 words. His new practice—of writing every day in a confessional and observational journal—has been a revelation, transforming his writing, his perspective on the work he does (advertising), his relationship with his ex-wife and children, and the historical events he’s witnessing. The journal entries begin with lament and conclude with astute, clear-headed, sober commentary.

Summer's End

September 6, 2010

What have I accomplished this summer? I finished a novella-- the fourth in a new series of five—and began a revision of a novel. I’ve kept my observational green moleskin going and written a couple of poems. I’ve hiked, socialized, had some adventures. I’ve read a lot. The teaching term will begin soon but my daily writing regimen will continue, albeit with adaptations.

As an academic and a lifelong student of all that interests me, the fall always feels like a new year to me, one reason among many I am indifferent to the generic new year announced on January 1. As a child, a trip to the store to buy new binders, pencils, pens, reinforcements, rulers, Crayolas and a tin lunchbox, was always thrilling. Nothing stayed fresh for long but it didn’t matter, it only meant that I was already deeply immersed in books and paper, homework and new friends. That has never changed for me. Nor has my enthusiasm for meeting new writers each term in my workshop class at NYU. Everyone brings something of interest and importance to the class. If any prospective students are reading this blog, I look forward to meeting you.


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