As I predicted, the glorious Miami Heat take on the venerable Detroit Pistons in the 2006 National Basketball Association Eastern Conference Finals, a match-up brought about by the Pistons' game-seven trouncing of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round.
Especially significant this year is that American phenom LaBron James, who came to the NBA three seasons ago straight from high school, has had his first taste of the playoffs, a much faster, more physically and mentally intense game than regular season fare.
He far exceeded any reasonable expectations (except winning this series, which wasn't one of them, but then neither was extending the it to seven games, which he did) and a career destined to eclipse that of Michael Jordan is already in full-blast mode, boasting a trunkful of shattered first-time playoff appearance records.
Virtuosity in anything — basketball, music, writing — is both humbling and exhilarating. With IN, we're trying to demystify the reasons for the former and emphasize the latter. I often wax ridiculous about parallels between writing and basketball — and the more obvious ones between writing and music, particularly rhythm and meter — but I do know that just as the only certainties in life are death and taxes, the only reality of any art form or discipline is fundamentals. One must walk before one runs and so on.
If nothing else, though, I always implore aspiring writers to please learn how to press down the single strings before trying to strike a whole chord. Through hard work, constant practice and innate ability you can succeed. You might just need a bit of the attitude young "King James" not only possesses but practically monopolizes — a thuggish distain for any suggestion whatever that you cannot.
Another compelling aspect of James' natural talent is that he hit the playoffs ground running, with very few missteps. So too did our new editor, Julie Pierce, into the flow if IN's editorial schemata. She's effortlessly picked up the reigns of Writers Life, Reviews and Useful News, exhibiting her empathetic editing style and a breezy, accessible writing voice in the process.
Since Rhodes and me started ruminatin' about this thing we've wanted a woman's perspective that is as prevalent, if not more so, than our own divergent agendas. And we lucked out. Welcome to the firm, JP!
The infusion of her energy has propelled this issue, and you should check the debut of her INside Scoop column to get the lowdown. Beyond that, you'll find on our cover Lee Gutkind, the godfather of creative nonfiction (capitalized by some) or 4th Genre — what I call New Journalism, which Gay Talese pioneered with Honor Thy Father, which was inspired by Truman Capote's "real-life novel" In Cold Blood, which spawned Norman Mailer's handling of the Gary Gilmore story, Executioner's Song. Hunter S. Thompson had his fingers in the punch along the way too, with his series of Fear And Loathing books and Rolling Stones pieces. Whatever you call it, Gutkind has found himself, if unwittingly, on its cutting edge.
Always on the edge is Anne R. Allen, who comes on strong in IN Her Own Write with some crafty, if not profitable, ways of dealing with the occupational hazard we all face — anger. The other side of that coin is patience, and Ken Robinson extols its virtues in Write On! Jennifer Edelson’s Bitter Quill explores that ethereal zone where mediocrity ends and literature begins; Buzz Burza’s INdia Buzz pulls no punches about plagiarism; and Peggy Bechko takes Pen IN Hand to lay down the ins and outs of agents. To boot, INside Authors features a couple of cats you may find, well, interesting... Michael Allen and Gordon Grant.
Me? Well, the playoffs run until late June. Bet you can't wait to hear all about it. Not!?
IN (Inkwell Newswatch)