Television Tuesdays: The Good Place

The Good Place isn’t trying to be another Parks & Recreation, though both shows share a creator. It’s happy to be a weirder, more surreal cousin. It’s easy to see how the two are related, but they are also fiercely independent. What they have in common: both are beacons of warmth and humor on days when you can’t remember what it feels like to laugh. The Good Place just finished its first season on NBC.


The premise alone – the eternal afterlife in which you exist after your death – might not seem like it’s for you. But the show has so many layers, there’s something in it for you, I promise.

At times the show can seem too surreal, too fantastical, especially in the first few episodes as the it finds its footing. The overly-fake CGI and preposterousness were a little off-putting but are definitely worth enduring. Hold on. Keep watching. Because before you know it you’ll be thinking about existentialism and ethics. What kind of good are you doing in your life? Are you living life to the fullest? What, exactly, would your version of The Good Place look like and how would your perfect house be decorated?

Maybe you don’t want to consider the ethics of your daily life. I know I don’t. But the show doesn’t force introspection, it’s too busy making you laugh. You feel good because you’re probably a better person than Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) was when she was on Earth. Or you think, “If Tahani made it into The Good Place, I definitely will. At least my altruism isn’t done just so I can brag”.

Despite making it into The Good Place, the main characters that populate it are all beautifully flawed in such relatable ways. Chidi can’t make a decision to save his after-life. Tahani’s kindness is a performance. Eleanor is the voice in the back of your brain that speaks before you can censor yourself. And Jianyu, well, he’s something else entirely.

It’s a weird show, but it’s meaningful and it’s good. It’s hard to discuss without spoiling the show and the way that the season unfolds is worth watching on your own.  The character growth is gradual and the relationships built between the characters feel organic. It carefully balances on the line between providing an escape from the real world and forcing yourself to confront your own reality.

I could go on. I can’t stop thinking about the depth and layers of friendship between Eleanor and Chidi. I could, and someday might, write a thousand words on how The Good Place is one of the most brilliant takes on a dystopia I’ve ever seen. It will take a very long time before I stop picturing Adam Scott as his character, a representative from The Bad Place. The Good Place wasn’t brilliant right out of the gate, but it had a brilliant first season. It’s definitely worth giving a chance because it’s one of those rare shows that’s delightful to watch.

WRITE Wednesday

WRITE Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by my dear friend Poppy Simeri and Vera James every Wednesday. As What’s Up, Wednesday has wrapped up, I’m excited to jump into this new feature! It will focus on writing & reading, regular blogging, and blog friendships.

W: Writing

I’m wrapping up the first round of edits on Delia this week so I can send them to some friends for initial critiques. I can’t believe I’ve managed to cut over 30,000 words already. (It was depressingly necessary.) But I’m more excited about the story than ever since it finally has some coherency. And just yesterday Poppy herself texted me about an exciting new writing project for us to work on together. It’s going to be fun and challenging and I’m already frantically brainstorming fun things to put into it.

R: Reading

I still haven’t finished my Great Harry Potter Re-read, but I have made it to the 7th book so. It’s on the horizon. I’m hoping to be done by September 1st so that I can have read them in one year.

I also just picked up City of Bones by Cassandra Clare on a couple of friends’ recommendation. I’m about five chapters in, and I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m not 100% sold, but it’s something I can read pretty quickly, so I’ll stick with it.

I: Inspiration

I’m inspired by good writing. Books that are so good I have to set them aside to write something of my own. Books that are so beautifully written I want to do yet another round of edits to make my writing stronger. Having author-crushes makes something warm bloom in my chest that pushes me to be better, better, better.

T: Thinking Ahead

Having these Delia edits done! Seeing what wonderful and terrifying and insightful notes my friends will have for me and how I’ll possibly manage to do them while balancing grad school.

E: Encouragement

Writing friendships and crit partners! Knowing there are people cheering for me that are excited about what I’m doing is the best inspiration to keep me writing. They especially help push me toward the finish line and make the best version of the book possible. I try my best to be my writer friends’ cheerleader as well, because they’re all so amazing and I am so amazed by how talented they are.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

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Cripes, I’ve been busy. Since the last time I’ve posted I feel like my life has gone from boring to stand-still to FULL THROTTLE. I can’t stop effusing about how happy I am and it’s such a great change, it feels so wonderful, that y’all are just going to have to deal with good-mood Molly.

Let’s see. I guess the last thing I mentioned about life changes was that I’d heard back from grad schools. I was fortunate to get in to every school that I applied to (all three of them), and I settled on Syracuse University where I am happily, besottedly studying Television, Radio, and Film. I’m half-way through the summer semester and head over heels in love with it.

Which means that since my lease in DC ended in May, I have moved twice. First was a short stint at my parents’ house back in Cleveland. It was nice to be home. I think being able to spend some quality time with my family and have some semblance of a summer vacation was the best thing I could have done for my mental health. Then, on the first of July, my Dad and I each packed up a car and I moved to Syracuse, the place that I’ll call home for the next year. My house is super cute, and I’m more than a little in love with the front porch. (I will admit to desperately missing air conditioning.)

Clocking in at eleven months, 160 pages, and 67,000 words, I finished the first draft of That Golf Story. Kate and Bailey kept convincing me to add more make-out scenes, but I am done! It feels great to have another manuscript under my belt and it’s given me a chance to really sit down and focus on editing Delia. I managed to shred the first half and really rebuild it. With 50 pages left to edit, I’ve already cut out 30,000 words. I’m hoping to get the rest done in time to send it to K & B by the end of the month for preliminary feedback.

Life is almost moving too quickly, but I’m loving every second of it. I’d managed to forget that productivity breeds productivity, so after having a quiet six weeks at my parents’ house, I’m getting an absurd amount of work done. Aside from my personal writing projects, I just revised a script that my production class and I will be turning into a short film over the next three weeks. I’ll also be starring in it!

I’ve never felt a closer kinship with my heroine Hermione Granger in my entire life. We’ve been sorted (into production teams), the class selection is so overwhelming I feel like I need a time-turner, my hand snaps into the air at every opportunity, and there’s even a castle-like building on (the surprisingly gorgeous) campus!

Also, I keep forgetting and then remembering that Aaron Sorkin went to school here, and I keep dying little happy deaths. I hope you, too, are having the best July of all time.

What’s Up, Wednesday? //10\\

Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY,hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

Well, let’s see. As predicted, I cried my way through the last 50 pages of Code Name Verity. It was agonizingly beautiful and I already picked up Rose Under Fire from the library.

I’m almost done with Adverbs by Daniel Handler. I loved A Series of Unfortunate Events by Handler (written as Lemony Snicket) and I didn’t expect Adverbs to be the same, it’s an adult book after all. But I don’t love it the way I wanted to. The vignettes are all woven together with a common cast of characters, but none of them feel compelling. None of them feel fleshed out nor the world well-developed enough for me to really be hooked.

The Great Harry Potter re-read is still underway, and I’m currently working my way through Order of the Phoenix. I expect to sprint through the first four hundred pages and have to force myself to finish it. I’m not ready for that kind of emotional pain.

What I’m Writing

That Golf Story – I’m making some serious progress! Just about three chapters to go if all of my plotting and pacing in my outline is accurate. Everything’s coming together and it’s equally exciting and nerve-wracking because I’m not ready to let go of these characters yet. But only one more golf match to write (thankfully – you can only make them so interesting) and there are relationship developments happening between the main characters. It’s all coming together.

Delia – I’m trying to use the weekends to revise, but *insert panicked laughter here* oh boy is that difficult to dive into. So I’m still just trying to jigsaw the plot of the first half together, re-tooling character introductions and meet-cutes alike.

What Works for Me

Bribes. I’m not even kidding. Once, I put off writing a kissing scene for literally weeks until Kate bribed me with a bottle of wine to finish it. And now it’s not been explicitly stated or anything, but I really revel in it when Bailey and Kate send me positive feedback and general exclamation points as they read new chapters. It gets me excited to keep writing and to think of how they’ll react to what’s to come.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

I heard back from grad schools! I got in! The relief and joy have now taken a back-burner to my frantic list-making. I have a spreadsheet of pros and cons and costs and benefits for the two programs I’m seriously considering, so that’s been my main focus.

What’s Up, Wednesday? //9\\

Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY,hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

I just finished The Wonder Boys. It was like reading a mid-life crisis.

Tonight I’m very excited to re-start Code Name Verity. I started it last summer and put a pin in it because, while I loved it, it had to go back to the library. Then, because I couldn’t bear to see the story disappear from my life, I bought a copy. Unfortunately it arrived right after I got distracted by my Great Book Marathon of 2014 when I got Unmade, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue and had to re-read all those series before I could sink my teeth into the new additions. But now I’m ready to start it again and give it the attention it deserves because I was so in love with it last summer and I can’t wait to revisit that feeling.

What I’m Writing

That Golf Story – Last night I finished up a super fun chapter for Bailey and Kate. I can’t wait for them to read it for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I know something about how the chapter ends that they don’t. Making them wait for the next chapter will be really fun for me to torture them with.

Delia – I think I might implement a system where I force myself to revise a chunk of Delia for every chapter of TGS that I finish. Since there aren’t that many chapters of TGS left to be written, this might be a good ramp-up to the serious revision this story needs.

What Works for Me

I’d been using Google Docs to work on my WIP while away from my laptop and it was fine. Sometimes it got laggy, but on the whole it was good. My problem was actually that I kept my outline and draft in the same document and it felt cluttered. Last week I switched to using Celtx as my browser platform and I really like it. It feels cleaner and more efficient than GDocs. I also like that I can insert chapter breaks that correspond to a handy navigator. I’d only used Celtx for screenplays in the past, but it’s really easy to use and I’ve been really productive since switching to it.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Despite having the cold from hell last week, Friday was a great day! I woke up from a nap to an email that notified me of my acceptance to grad school!!! Immediately after, my roommate invited me to go see Jupiter Ascending (which was a-mah-zing), and on the way to the theater we stopped at a book store so I could finally get my hands on a copy of VE Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.

I’m also obsessively refreshing the Classic Alice indiegogo page. Please donate if you can!

What’s Up, Wednesday? //8\\

Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY, hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. I’m struggling through it a bit, because it’s very, uh, self-aggrandizing. I absolutely think that is due to the main character and not the author, though. It’s written in the first-person perspective of a struggling author who’s working on his masterpiece novel. Bye-the-bye it’s also about a white dude’s mid-life crisis and I kind of want to tell Michael Chabon to stop wanking. After I give that some thought, though, I wonder if that’s spectacularly effective writing. Because the writing is good, and I’m obviously still reading. I want to see where the story goes. I’m just a little bit over reading about self-destructive white dudes.

What I’m Writing

That Golf Story – I’ve made it back to a chapter that I am deliriously happy to be writing. It’s fun, playful, and energetic, and there will be kissing.

Delia – Oh, god. I actually started revising Delia and I hate everything. I  made myself a note to “cut everything that doesn’t involve kissing, snark, or blood.” Which actually sounds like a pretty solid revision strategy. And then I realize that I’ve already cut 20k and it feels like nothing happened. Regardless, I’ve written a new opening scene and I’m cutting and pasting and crying and writing. Definitely trying not to think about the complete overhaul the first half needs.

What Works for Me

I’ve never written more quickly or been as excited to finish a section than I have since I started talking to Kate and Bailey about my work. In the past I’ve always been supremely reluctant to talk about my writing at all, but having two people that I like and trust to bounce ideas off of and get positive reinforcement from has been a blessing.

Though I may change my tune when I need them to start actively critiquing.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Last week I went to an event at the Smithsonian where I got to meet Martin Sheen! Not to sound dramatic, but it was everything I’ve ever dreamed of (and more!). The whole event was basically a conversation about his character on The West Wing and he was wonderful and funny and kind and we made so much eye contact. Watching him watch The West Wing is also my new favorite hobby.

On Friday I officially tendered my letter of resignation! Keep your fingers crossed that I get accepted to grad school or I may be in Cleveland for more than the summer. But that’s alright (eh), because I’m pretty okay with my contingency plans.

What’s Up, Wednesday? //7\\

Happy February! Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY, hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to. I know the Northeast is covered in snow, but the DC area hasn’t been able to accumulate more than an inch (it seems), so this weeks’ WUW sidebar is a little idealistic.

What I’m Reading

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. I started it ages ago, re-started it last week. I love Michael Chabon and wanted something to immerse myself in, but so far it just seems like a white dude’s mid-life crisis. But I’ve barely begun so I’m reserving judgment. Summerland was one of my favorite middle grade books and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a masterpiece, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

On the non-fiction front, I’m reading The Great Cat Massacre by Robert Darnton. It was on the required reading list in a college course (Enlightenment Europe) and I finally have the time to sit down and read more than the few assigned sections.

In retrospect, I should have planned my book-pairing better because they both feel ‘adult’ and serious. Because, as I’m learning, everyone was too busy working themselves to death in 17th century France to have a little fun and frivolity in their lives.

What I’m Writing

That Golf Story – Kate and Bailey finally received Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 is off to, well, a start. The last couple of chapters had kissing, and drinking, and a lot of music but only a little bit of golf. So now I get to write a lot of golf. All of the golf. But in a fun way. Good news, though: I’m officially working on the final third of the draft.

Delia – Delia is what I’m calling the project I finished last summer because the main character’s name is Delia and I’m truly abhorrent at naming things. And she’s not getting written so much as getting revised. But that’s a part of the writing process, so she still counts. Poor Delia is a stagnant first half tied to an action-packed second half right now, but I promised myself that when I finished applying to grad schools I would start to revise her, so here we are.

What Works for Me

Outlining (apparently). That Golf Story is the first time I’ve outlined a story in its entirety before I began writing it. I wrote an overall outline for plot. Then I broke the plot into three sections and made sure there was rising action, and conflict, and resolutions. Which worked in that I found an organic way to split the draft into sections. Then I broke down chapter-by-chapter scenes. And sure, some stuff has been cut, characters have been added and others have merged; there’s a lot of stuff I hadn’t originally anticipated. Overall, though, having a guide has been a blessing. It’s easier for me to brainstorm. I can play with structure now that I actually have one.

This is all a far cry from Delia. She’s a hot mess. I developed my main character and had a vague idea of what I wanted for her, but I pants-d it. When I did outline, it was as I wrote. And I kept the outline in the same document as things that I cut and ideas that didn’t quite fit. So poor Delia’s all over the place, and the mythology struggles because of it. Revision will be harder because of it and that’s not really an exciting prospect as a first-time reviser.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

It was my birthday recently, so I planned myself the perfect day (and executed it pretty flawlessly). Let me just say: Wine jell-o shots are my new favorite thing. But before I drank, I got my first tattoo! To balance out all the fun, I’ve been productive – I’ve already filed my taxes, completed my FAFSA, and am officially done applying to grad schools! Now it’s just a waiting game.