alexandra alger


How I Got Turned On To Peyton Manning

Yikes, I’ve been out of touch for a bit, haven’t I? I spent January in a frenzy of rewriting, embellishing character, refining plot, all with the goal of finishing this draft by month’s end. And I’m not. I’m not! I keep telling myself, It’s okay, it’s okay, the important thing is to get this one right. This draft is really an amalgam of four or five, because the editing of one chapter tends to send me back to an earlier one, to make sure everything is fitting. Invariably once I look back on a chapter I see a word that isn’t quite right, or a phrase that sounds awkward, or a piece of dialogue that sounds off, and next thing you know every step forward means a step back. This is probably an inefficient way to revise. But it’s what comes naturally.

Enough of my revision angst. It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Like the other Americans who are not football fans–there have to be at least a few thousand of us in this country of 300 million–I’m mainly interested in the nachos. I have two bags of tortilla chips on my kitchen counter that I surely would’ve devoured by now save for the vision of nachos smothered in cheese and black beans, with a sprinkling of scallions, and guacamole on the side….

I’m off topic again. What I really want to say is, even though I rarely watch football I’m excited to see the game today, thanks to the Wall Street Journal’s Jan. 31 Superbowl coverage. Yeah, the WSJ–can you believe it? The Journal’s business writing has always been unparalleled, but in recent years it’s developed a flair for all kinds of other stories.  The sports section drew me in with a front-page Super Bowl preview. The Journal cleverly used skier terminology to offer game perspective for three kinds of viewers: beginner, intermediate and advanced. I loved this! And I was pretty proud of myself for zooming down the intermediate run. (As in skiing, I had trouble negotiating the terrain of the black diamond.) Once I was inside the section, I saw an article with the headline, “Peyton Manning: Mr. Annoying.” Hello–really? Well, no–just a brilliant headline–but the story did turn out to be a fascinating, semi-humorous look at Manning’s relentless drive, an intensity bordering on obsessiveness that can get on his teammates’–and his coaches’–nerves. Writer Kevin Clark did what the best writers try to do: He made Manning human. You saw how a guy with his kind of talent becomes great–he thinks and works harder than everyone else.

You may be wondering, am I now a Peyton Manning fan? Am I going to root for the Broncos? Nope. I say, Let the best team win! Either way, those nachos are really going to hit the spot.

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