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Al Davis died at the age of 82 on October 8, 2011.
October 8, 2016
I started counting up all the pieces I write each week more than a year and a half ago. It wasn’t meant to be a numerical exercise; I was more bemused by the number of pieces at first. The only reason I started doing it was that I realized:
- I needed to promote my pieces;
- I needed a place for people to find my pieces from different sites and publications;
- I didn’t like being on Twitter all day;
- I wanted, if you were like me and didn’t like being on Twitter all day, for Theoretically Ideal But Probably Fictional Reader Person Who Just Can’t Bear To Miss A Single Will Leitch Piece to be able to just have one post they can go to every Friday to read everything.
- I hadn’t updated my official (well, “official”) site in weeks and needed something to justify its existence.
- If I didn’t promote my piece, no one would.
- I nevertheless hated promotion.
So, thus: One post, with links to all the pieces. This year, I started
this here newsletter you’re reading right now, to lessen the burden on
Theoretically Ideal But Probably Fictional Reader Person Who Just Can’t
Bear To Miss A Single Will Leitch Piece even further. Now you didn’t
even have to seek out a post: It would come straight to your mailbox.
Heck, I’d even write a special newsletter-essay up top to further entice
you. And here you are.
This week, we hit the record, with 24 different pieces. Now, this was a bit of a confluence of circumstances. It’s the start of the baseball playoffs, which means there were previews of each team and each series, and also I wrote about the new Woody Allen TV series every day. But it’s still a lot. People always ask me how I write so much, or, more to the point, why I write so much. But the intention is not, and has never been, to write a bunch of pieces. The intention is just to get to write. Now, at a certain level, I’ve brought this on myself by numbering them: It gives it a humblebrag notion that wasn’t in the initial plan. That’s my fault.
The idea is that, well, it’s work. I’m proud of every one of those 24 pieces. (Well, maybe 21 or so.) I think people believe that if you write something quickly – and some of those pieces were days or weeks in conception and execution; they just happened to pub this week – it somehow has less value, or that less thought went into it. But I don’t feel that way at all. It is not an accident that I write quickly. I’ve been writing regularly, honing my voice and my ability to express it, for two decades. You write so that you get better: You write so you know what works and what doesn’t.
I can write that fast not because I’m just crapping stuff out. I write that fast because I:
- Have trained myself to do so;
- Have something to say;
- Do not think I am a special snowflake;
- Spent a very long time desperately hoping someone, someday, would be me to write something for them. Now that they are willing to do so, I want to make sure they continue to do so;
- Am doing the thing I always wanted to do and therefore am doing it because it is an incredibly fun thing to do.
I still don’t know how to promote this stuff. This newsletter is really
my last best idea, and it comes to you beamed straight from 1998. I’m
still honored to get to make any of it. I can’t imagine a situation
where I hit 24 pieces again. But honestly: I’ll really can’t believe my
luck that I get to do even one. This was always the plan. I never wanted
to be an editor, or a producer, or an executive, or some “new Web
voice.” I just wanted to write. Now I get to do it. This is as much as
it was two decades ago. I’ll write as much as you’ll let me. The
question is not why I wrote 24 pieces this week. This question is why I
don’t every week.
(Though 2017 is the year of Getting Back to the Book, so hopefully I won’t have time to do 24 pieces in a week.)
By the way, I’ve tried really hard to be impartial reporter guy, because of the Bloomberg gig, but honestly, I think it’s possible that Donald Trump might be the worst person in public life. I am honestly relieved my sons are too young to understand all of this.
Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)
- Cardinals Fan’s October Plan: “Boo Cubs Boo,” Chicago Tribune. I
try not to worry too much about what people think of my writing: I try
to ignore compliments and criticisms equally, because if you pay
attention to one, you have to pay attention to the other. The only thing
I do pay attention to? The difference between people who read
the piece and respond, and the people who read the headline (or the
Tweet) and respond. The former can (and should) say whatever they want. I
have no use for the latter at all.
- Saying Goodbye to Turner Field, Sports On Earth. I get uncomfortably emotional about baseball stadiums, I will confess.
- Donald Trump Impressions, Ranked, Bloomberg Politics. I
enjoy doing pieces like this, because the format gives you a ready-made
structure but also challenges you to do something bigger and more
ambitious with it. This one worked out well.
- “Newtown:” What Happened Afterwards, The New Republic. This was as brutal to watch as you’d suspect.
- The Cardinals’ Five-Year Playoff Streak Is Over, Sports On Earth. This
is really just clips of all the Cardinals postseason highlights of the
last five years, which, honestly, might make it my favorite piece I’ve
- Eight Years in America: Hope, and What Came After, New York. I contributed an essay about LeBron James to New York’s
epic Obama issue. It’s one of the more minor pieces in the issue, but I
still can’t believe I got to be a part of it. I love this magazine so
- “Crisis in Six Scenes,” Episode 2 Wrapup, Decider. We
broke each of these into their own piece, which pumped up the post
count but also let me write a different mini-essay about Woody Allen and
the current state of his career each day. I appreciated the
- “Crisis in Six Scenes,” Episode 3 Wrapup, Decider. We also talked about the show on the Grierson & Leitch podcast this week.
- “Crisis in Six Scenes,” Episode 4 Wrapup, Decider. One thing is certain: Woody Allen won’t be making any more TV series.
- “Crisis in Six Scenes,” Episode 5 Wrapup, Decider. I
felt a little bit better for Woody as the series went on. Whatever your
thoughts on it, he did it his way, damn the consequences.
- The Postseason Rootability Rankings, Sports on Earth. I tried to take a generalist perspective rather than my own … but I still couldn’t go with the Cubs.
- The San Francisco Giants Are Back in the NLDS, Sports On Earth. Biggest Giants fan in the world over here, hi.
- The Dumbest Sports Stories of September 2016, Sports On Earth. I honestly have a little bit more fun with these every month.
- “The Girl on the Train:” An Unreliable Director, The New Republic. This movie stinks.
- Playoff Dossier: Toronto Blue Jays, Sports On Earth. I
always go to the World Series, so this is the time of year when I start
scoping out to see where I’m going to spending much of my October.
Let’s just say I’ve checked to make sure my passport was current.
- Playoff Dossier: Baltimore Orioles, Sports On Earth. Sorry, guys.
- Playoff Dossier: San Francisco Giants, Sports On Earth. SERIOUSLY, I LOVE THIS TEAM GO GIANTS YOU ARE THE BEST.
- Playoff Dossier: New York Mets, Sports On Earth. I
was walking through Times Square when Conor Gillaspie hit his homer and
I swear I heard the whole town gasp. (Just kidding, nobody noticed at
- NLDS Preview: Cubs vs. Giants, Sports On Earth. These
are all pretty much the same things as the Dossiers, only they have a
prediction at the end. To have them down for posterity: Cubs in five.
- NLDS Preview: Nationals vs. Dodgers, Sports On Earth. Dodgers in four.
- ALDS Preview: Red Sox vs. Indians, Sports On Earth. Red Sox in four, oops.
- ALDS Preview: Rangers vs. Blue Jays, Sports On Earth. Blue Jays in five.
- World Series Round of 16, Sports On Earth. Getting close to the end here. One Cardinals team left.
- Postseason Stats Always Evolve, Sports On Earth. This was the last piece of the week, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t total toast when I was writing it. Don’t read it.
As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly
newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to
subscribe to one of the four (!) podcasts I do. Here they are:
Grierson & Leitch, chatting about “American Honey,” “Deepwater Horizon,” “Crisis in Six Scenes” and “Barry Lyndon.”
The Will Leitch Experience, previewing three postseason series, though we missed the fourth because Alyson fell ill.
Culture Caucus, back next week.
Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, recapping that sadness against Tennessee and previewing Sunday’s game against South Carolina.
Also, was back on Pro Football Now this week. I did a little rant.
It is possible I smile too much to be a good sports ranter.
Here’s another fun screenshot.
And with those jazz hands, I bit you a fond adieu. Have a wonderful weekend.