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Episode 277: Never Doubt, Just Do

I wish they’d send Joan to space.

She’s a real writer… who wrote about true things. I want her to describe the feeling and the wonderment of what life would be like. But they don’t send writers to space.

Only scientists (for now). Joan Didion pioneered a new genre in writing: “creative nonfiction.” Before her, storytelling and nonfiction never touched. They were separate.

She’s one of my all time favorite writers. And I spoke to her nephew, Griffin Dunne, a filmmaker, director, producer, actor…

And now, he’s a documentarian. “Every family has it’s tragedy,” I said. “But not everybody dives into that tragedy decades later to re-explore it.”

The documentary is about his aunt Joan Didion. “Was it painful for you to go through every piece of tragedy in your life?” I asked.

You don’t usually see directors or documentary makers making a movie about somebody so personally close to them.

“I think she knows that I love the people that we lost,” Griffin said. “We’re the last two standing in the family. I think when she looks at me she sees someone who loved her husband and her daughter. And when I look at her, I see someone who adored my mother and adored my father. We grew up together. ”

Her story’s never been told. “Why’d she let you do it?” I said

“I can only sort of guess what the reasons are,” he said. Sometimes mysteries stay mysteries, but also become art.

This is why Griffin was able to make the documentary. And make it beautiful, creative, and inspiring. He titled it, “The Center Will Not Hold”.

This podcast is about so many things. Joan Didion’s writing. Griffin Dunne’s career. But most of all, I think he taught me about instinct. He told me about his daughter. She wants to be an actor (my daughter does too). He discouraged her a little bit. Encouraged her, but also told her about all the heart ache.

But Joan told her, “Do what you want to do. Do what you feel and what you love. Forget everybody’s advice, follow your gut.”

I think we all need a Joan.

At least I do.

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