"It's usually when you stop trying so hard that something happens," says Rachel Corbett, a New York-based writer and author.
Hey, there CNF-buddys, I’m comin’ at you live from my shiny new digs. New house up in Eugene and I’ve got a nice little office I can call my own. There’s no foam on the walls yet, so please pardon the audio, but we’re making strides to be the best.
Part of that is me shutting the front door and getting the hell out of the way. I still haven’t quite figured out a way to completely edit myself out of these interviews. But I’m working on it. Don’t worry…
Rachel Corbett joins me this week for Episode 88 of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the best artists about creating works of nonfiction, leaders in the world of narrative journalism, essay, memoir, radio, and documentary film where I try and tease out origins, habits, routines, mentors, key influences, so you can apply some of their tools of mastery to your own work.
Rachel is a freelance journalist whose work appears in a few rags you might have heard of: The New Yorker, the New York Times, etc. She’s also the author of You Must Change Your Life, The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin. She is @rachelncorbett on Twitter.
Rachel hits on some key points about carving out your own niche
How things come easier when you stop trying so hard
Listening vs. talking
Getting away from the work so you can come back refreshed.
And the power of being dumb and defeated (some of us were born this way).
Stay tuned to the end of the show for some incentivized calls to action. In the meantime, here’s my conversation with the brilliant Rachel Corbett.
"I like to start from the present," says Hope Wabuke. "It's vibrant and visceral and has these questions that are lingering throughout time but we can access them."
Okay, let’s rock and roll, this is The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction, I’m Brendan O’Meara, hey, hey, leaders in the world of narrative journalism, memoir, essay, doc film and radio share their origins, stories behind the stories, habits, and routines so you can apply their tools of mastery to your own work.
Let’s talk to Hope Wabuke this week for episode 87… She’s @hopewabuke on Twitter and at hopewabuke.com. Hope is a poet, though she knows it, and her essay “The Animal in the Yard” is one of six 2018 Pushcart nominations for Creative Nonfiction Magazine, no we’re not a couple, but our friends tells us we like each other.
I had a real hard time cutting this interview down, something I do to all of them, because she is so wise and illuminating throughout, that I left it largely untouched. She talks about the:
Global African Diaspora
Starting from the present as a place to explore the past
How her parents escaped genocide in Uganda to start a new life in America
And empowering the marginalized
And what it means to be a watcher
Dig the show? Consider leaving an honest rating, or, for 60 seconds of your time, an honest review. Reviews help embolden and widen the community we’re building here at CNF HQ. If you leave a review I’ll offer up a free editing sesh for up to 2,000 words. You usualy have to pay double for that in Vegas, Cotton.
Also, I have a monthly newsletter where I send out my reading, doc film, and podcast recommendations, as well as what you might have missed from the world of the Creative Nonfiction Podcast. Lots are joining, so why don’t you?
Once a month. No Spam. Can’t beat it.
"My best advice to people who want to write in any capacity is just do it. Get started. It doesn't matter where you publish," says Noah Strycker, author of Birding Without Borders.
My guest today for Episode 86 of the Creative Nonfiction Podcast is Noah Strycker, author of Birding without Borders: An Obsession, A Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World.
This is the show where I speak to the best artists about creating works on nonfiction: leaders in the worlds of narrative journalism, memoir, essay, radio, and documentary film where I tease out origins, habits, routines so that you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.
You’ve already heard how Noah connects with these lovely little critters and knowledge of them runs deep. His quest t see the most birds in a single year yielded a world record of over 6,000 birds touching every continent. In this episode he talks about:
How he got so obsessed with birds
How he chose which scenes stayed in the book vs. which ones got cut
Not being a very fast writer
And not overthinking the process of writing
The bookstore I work at, Tsunami Books in Eugene, OR, has several signed first printings of Birding without Borders. Visit tsunamibooks.org, click on shop in the tool bar, and add as many BWBs in your cart as you like. Free shipping anywhere in America. Not bad for a signed first printing if you ask me. The link will also be in the show notes.
I have some goodies to offer, but I’ll wait until the end of the show, please enjoy Ep. 86 with Noah Strycker.
Dig the show? I’d love it if you subscribed wherever you get your podcasts and leave an honest rating or review on iTunes. If you do, and you send me a screenshot of that review, I’ll edit and coach up a piece of your writing of up to 2,000 words. You give you get. People have been redeeming this and I think they’re happy, and I know I’m pleased with the response and candor of the reviews.
Also, I’ve got this pretty slick email newsletter that goes out at the start of the month. That’s right, just once a month. In it you’ll find my monthly book recommendations, documentary films recs, and what you might have missed from the world of the podcast.
The podcast and the newsletter is my little way of building a community around telling true stories. I hope you join in.
That’s it for this week. Till next time, have a CNFin’ great week, friends.
“To be sincere is to be powerful and creative nonfiction allows me to do that, to be sincere," says Jamie Zvirzdin.
Hey CNFers, hope you’re having a CNFin’ good week.
It’s The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction: leaders in the world of personal essay, memoir, narrative journalism, documentary film, and radio and try to tease out origins, habits, and craft so you can experiment with any cool nuggets you hear.
Today’s guest was the runner up in Creative Nonfiction’s “Science and Religion” contest from Issue 65. It’s Jamie Zvirzdin and her essay “Shuddering Before the Beautiful”: Trains of Thought Across the Mormon Cosmos details Jamie’s conflict with the Mormon church and her ultimate break from it, but doing it in a very empathetic way. There’s no vindictiveness in the story. She just lays it all out there. So we dig into that a bit.
In this episode you’ll also learn:
Her Fragment Heaven and Graveyard Hell
How she’s really analog when it comes to scheduling
Her addiction to learning
And lots of influential books and writers
I think Tom Petty said, “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!” So here’s my conversation with the great Jamie Zvirzdin.
Hey there CNF buddies, hope you’re havin’ a CNFin’ great week. What fuels you? What gets your engine revved up? What makes you redlined? For me it’s an interview and, dare I say, a riff…
It’s the Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction, leaders in the world of narrative journalism, memoir, documentary film, radio, and essay and try tease out the origins and habits so that you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.
For Episode 84, I welcome Adam Valen Levinson. Adam’s a smart guy, a real smart guy, and he’s written the wonderful book “The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East.”
Flip the book over and here’s a blurb from Buzz Bissinger, “Adam Valen Levinson is too young to have written a book this good: eloquent, analytical, funny, sad.”
Still not impressed? Peter Theroux said, “A fabulously written primer on the darkest countries in the world—or not so dark, as Valen Levinson shows with his toolkit of sharp sociology and brilliant humor.”
Well, I feel inadequate. Here’s a little more about Adam from his dust jacket bio: He is a journalist and travel writer whose work focuses on human stories in conflict areas. His work has appeared in numbers outlets, including VICE, the Paris Review, Al Jazeera, and Haaretz. He is an affiliate of the Middle East Institute in Washington DC and a Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, studying humor as a key to cultural understanding.
Damn. I make donuts and talk to people.
Okay, so here’s that part where I ask you that if you dig the show, consider subscribing and sharing it with a fellow CNFer. Leave an honest rating on iTunes, which takes a few seconds, or leave a rating and a review and in exchange, I’ll coach up a piece of your work, up to 2,000 words. That’s the deal. That’s like a $100 value once I’m all done because I read things three times and mark things up like it’s my job.
"Going toward solitude and away from excuses has really helped me," says Victoria Stopp.
Hey there, CNFers, my CNF buddies, hope you’re having a CNFin’ great start to the new year. Jan 1 is just a day like any other, but we as a culture have assigned supreme import to that day.
If you’re coming here for the first time because your resolution is to listen more podcasts or you want to kickstart projects in the genre of creative nonfiction, then let me tell you the deal: This is The Creative Nonfiction Podcast—hello—the show where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction: leaders in the worlds of narrative journalism, documentary film, radio, essay, and memoir and try to tease out habits, routines, and origins so that you can use their tools of mastery in your own work.
I’m Brendan O’Meara.
For Episode 83 of the podcast, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Victoria Stopp. You can find her on Twitter @victoriastopp or at her website victoriastopp.com. Her book Hurting Like Hell, Living with Gusto: My Battle with Chronic Pain, published by McFarland, tells the story of how she became mired in chronic pain after a traumatic neck injury. The book goes into great detail about her journey and how low and powerless it made her feel. Spoiler alert: she’s here to talk about it.
In this episode we also talk about being super disorganized, finding solitude, how writing keeps pulling Victoria back even after she tried giving it up.
Dig the show? Share this with a friend and consider subscribing. I ask that you leave an honest rating or a review on iTunes. Ratings take five seconds; reviews about a minute. 2018 is all about growth and having ratings and reviews helps with visibility.
Did you know that I have a monthly newsletter? It’s true. I send it out on the first of the month and it contains my book recommendations for the month as well as what you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No Spam. Can’t beat it.
Also consider leaving an honest review over on iTunes. You’re already doing a lot by listening, but if you can spare a minute or two I’d deeply appreciate it.
You can follow me on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and the podcast now has its own Twitter account @CNFPod. It also has a Facebook page, so if you want the full immersive Creative Nonfiction Podcast experience, be sure to Like or Follow all the channels.
Hey, there CNFers, Happy New Year. It’s 2018 and we’re gettin’ rollin’ here for the biggest, baddest year for The Creative Nonfiction Podcast.
And what is the Creative Nonfiction Podcast? It’s the show where I speak to the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction: leaders in the worlds of narrative journalism, documentary film, radio, essay and memoir, and tease out the habits and routines so that you can apply their tools of mastery to your own work.
I’m Brendan O’Meara.
And to kick off the New Year, I’m actually not interviewing anyone because I’ve been traveling around creation at significant personal cost to see family and friends on the East Coast. So Episode 82 is me reading “The Language of the Gods,” my essay for Chris Arvidson’s and Diana Nelson Jones’ collection of baseball essays in “The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans.”
The essay does have some footnotes, something I used to love, but am starting to have mixed feelings about, so when the footnotes appear, you’ll hear me say FOOTNOTE and I’ll read it followed by END FOOTNOTE. They’re not too disruptive.
This is gonna be a big year, so if you dig the show, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, share it with a friend, and leave an honest review on iTunes. I’m extending my offer to edit a piece of your work up to 2,000 words and an hour of my time just for leaving a candid review. Just send me a screenshot of the review when it posts and I’ll reach out.
"Research is this vehicle that allows you to follow your interests however long you want to follow it," says Rachel Wilkinson.
For Episode 80 of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the world's best artists about creating works of nonfiction, I spoke with Rachel Wilkinson, a writer and research based out of Pittsburgh, PA.
Her essay, "Search History," won Best Essay for Creative Nonfiction Magazine's Science and Religion contest for Issue 65. It's Google as religious experience, how the very act of asking questions is very faith-based, and, if we're getting grim and dystopian, how this technology, which is getting increasingly sentient, might supplant us some day. #spitoutthebone (Metallica reference for all y'all.)
In our conversation we talk a lot how she crafted this essay and how it hangs on a big idea rather than sheer character drive, David Foster Wallace, The War of Art, the fun of research, embracing failure, and trusting—yes, trusting—self-doubt.
Self-doubt is my spirit animal.
Hey, are you digging the show? I'd love it if you subscribed to the show, shared it with a fellow CNFer. Leave an honest review on iTunes and I'll give you an editorial consult on the house. Just send me a screenshot of your review and I'll reach out.
Thanks for listening!
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of several books including "Tamed and Untamed," says, "I don't think I followed a very traditional pathway. I did what I felt like doing."
What shenanigans are we up to here? It’s the Creative Nonfiction Podcast where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction. Leaders in the worlds of narrative journalism, personal essay, memoir, radio, and documentary film come here to talk about their origins, inspirations, and work habits so that you can apply their tools of mastery to your own work.
For episode 80, I had the privilege of speaking to Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who co-authored “Tamed and Untamed” with Sy Montgomery (of episode 79 fame).
Elizabeth’s career is wide, vast, and prolific as you’ll soon hear.
We talk about:
Lessons she learned from reading Hemingway
The Power of Ignorance
Walking off with wolves
How circumstances organize the work
And the clear feeling of the early hours
While we continue to party on here in the intro I cordially ask you for HONEST reviews over on the iTunes. It’s what drives visibility and credibility to CNFers like yourself. Send me a screenshot of your review and I will give you a free hour of my time to edit a piece of your work. You give you get. T’is the season. Make sure that review is time stamped in December 2017 and you’re golden.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the podcast. Thanks for listening.
"I have never picked the safe option and I have never regretted choosing what I've chosen ever," says Sy Montgomery.
Hey there, CNFers, hope you're having a CNFin' good week.
My, oh, my, where do we start? Maybe if you're new to the podcast I should let you know what it's about. This is the show where I speak to the world's best artists about creating works of nonfiction: leaders in narrative journalism (like Susan Orlean), personal essay (like Matthew Mercier), memoir (like Pulitzer Prize-winner Madeleine Blais), radio (Joe Donahue), and documentary film like (Jeff Krulik and Penny Lane).
As of now it's mainly writers, but I'm scurrying like heck to get more filmmakers and radio producers on the show.
It's my job to tease out origins, habits, routines, and points of craft so that you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work. I also hope that in having these conversations you might also not feel as lonely or alone in your artistic pursuits. You'll notice every single guest has the same set of anxieties you have and they manage to get the work done. I deal with my own self-hatred and lack of worth from the moment my alarm goes off at 4 a.m. so there you have it.
Today's guest is Sy Montgomery and you probably know her from her gargantuan bestseller The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the World of Consciousness. It was a National Book Award Finalist and just one of the literally dozens of books Sy has written about animals.
In this episode we talk about:
Sy getting her start as a business writer in Buffalo, NY
Belief in projects even when you don't believe in yourself
Being open to your expectations of a story changing as you go
And much, much more
Frankly, I came away from this conversation feeling good, just good, and the people who make you feel that way are the people you want to surround yourself with. I know I ended that sentence with a preposition, but whatever.
Before I send you off into the Animal Kingdom with Sy, here's that part where I ask you to leave an honest review on the iTunes. Any review posted from now through the end of 2017 gets an hour-long editorial consult from me, which is a $50 value if you like putting dollars and cents on things. Simply send me a screenshot of your review and I'll reach out. My pile of editorial is growing thanks to you. Reviews are the currency we play with to reach more people and empower them to do the kind of work they find most inspiring.