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The Creative Nonfiction Podcast with Brendan O'Meara
Conversations with the world's best artists about creating works of nonfiction.
Category: Literature
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April 13, 2018 08:33 PM PDT

"I have a body of work that's based on work," says Mike Sager. 

Hey, today I bring you the incomparable Mike Sager, @therealsager on Twitter. He of The Sager Group. He of the National Magazine Award. He of he talks you listen.

In Episode 95 of the creative nonfiction podcast he talks about his humble start in journalism, suspending disbelief, the power of creating something, and journalism as sport.

His collections of journalism include: The Lonely Hedonist, which includes all new material, Wounded Warriors, The Someone You’re Not, Stoned Again, The Devil and John Holmes, and Revenge of the Donut Boys, which features the iconic profile of Rosanne Barr, a feature that feels timely with the reboot of the show. 

All of these books you can find at thesagergroup.net where you can buy them and learn a thing or two.

His collections are an education. You wanna be good? You wanna be great? You gotta read Mike’s work, after you listen to this episode of course.

April 06, 2018 08:22 PM PDT

"In order to go fast, you've gotta go slow," says Kevin Wilson on Episode 94 of the podcast.

Oh, the intro is back. The oral surgery disaster is ongoing, but I’m powering through. Might lose my bone graft because my stupid body won’t pump blood to it. It’s friggin’ bullshit, but all I can do is keep my fingers crossed that the surgery wasn’t for nothing.

There are some podcasts that make me want to go out and be a better man and Kevin Wilson, back for his second at-bat for The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, is one of those guys.

He’s president and founder of KWBaseball. He’s a hitting coach to developing players and several pros. His second book, Finding Clarity: A Mindful Look into the Art of Hitting, sounds like a baseball book. I know what you’re thinking, “Brendan, I don’t like sports. I don’t care about baseball. WTF, man.”

Like Kevin’s #Goodbatting book we spoke about on Episode 32, “Finding Clarity” has so much value to anyone in any discipline. You can overlay your own experience onto the wisdom Kevin shares. You can read the book over a cup of coffee, but spend several hours journaling over the quick-hit questions at the end of the chapters. I’m telling you, give this one a chance.

He talks about finding his “Why”
Intentionality
Sharing
Failure
Listening
And slowing down to go faster

If you don’t already subscribe, consider subscribing on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play Music. I’d deeply appreciate a rating or a review on iTunes if you can spare the time.

Show notes are available at brendanomeara.com. There you can sign up for my montly reading list newsletter. It’s a fun bit of goodness that hits on the first of the month. Once a month. No spam. You can’t beat that.

This show is produced, hosted, booked, and edited by me, Brendan O’Meara. I’m on Twitter and Instagram @BrendanOMeara. The podcast is @CNFPod on Twitter and @CNFPodcast on Facebook.

March 30, 2018 08:11 AM PDT

"What I wanted to do was show the commonality of all life on earth...it seemed important to me that we're related," says Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.

You'll excuse that there's not traditional intro and outro to this show. You might even prefer it. I've had what I can only hope is a MINOR complication with recent oral surgery and don't want to talk and thus compound the problem at hand. I won't bore you.

EMT returns to the show to talk about her new book "The Hidden Life of Life: A Walk Through the Reaches of Time (Penn State University Press, 2018).

Carl Safina, author of "Beyond Words," writes, "We are lucky to have shared some time on Earth with Elizabeth Marshall Thomas...Reading her is like looking through a telescope and realizing that the brightness you see actually happened long, long ago and has taken all this time to reach your own eyes."

Dig the show? Consider leaving an honest review on iTunes and I will coach up a piece of your writing up to 2,000 words. Reviews are the currency that drives the podcast economy and I'd be thrilled if you added your two cents.

Maybe I'll be able to talk next week. In the meantime, enjoy Episode 93.

March 23, 2018 06:00 AM PDT

"Lack of information can ruin people's lives in a profound way," says Norwegian medical student and co-author of "The Wonder Down Under," Ellen Stokken Dahl.

So I had oral surgery this week so my capacity to speak with my face mouth is greatly hampered.

Welcome to the Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to the best artists about telling true stories, teasing out their origins, habits, and routines, so that you can apply some of those tools of mastery to your own work. What’s goin’ on CNFers! CNFbuddies!

I recorded this interview with Ellen prior to the surgery so I sound like a human person through the interview. She along with Nina Brochmann wrote "The Wonder Down Under: The Insider’s Guide to the Anatomy, Biology, and Reality of the Vagina." It’s quite a fun read.

Both Ellen and Nina are touring the U.S. as we speak since the book caught fire after their TEDxOslo talk about “The Virginity Fraud," breaking myths about the hymen and such got over 2 million views. It's up near 3 million now. Go take a look in the show notes.

I spoke only with Ellen for this episode because Nina got sick at the last minute. Only one brilliant Scandanavian for you this week...

Ellen hits on:

How her curiosity led her to women’s health
Co-authoring a book and co-writing a TED Talk
How the lack of information can ruin lives
And processing a new sense of global visability

Yeah, a little house keeping, I’d love for you subscribe to the show so you can get one of these nifty little podcasts every Friday. Also, if you leave an honest review on iTunes I’ll edit/coach up a piece of your work up to 2,000 words. You give me one minute of your review time, I’ll give you a couple hours of mine. Not a bad deal for you.

Okay, now it’s time to hear the brilliant … for episode 92, wow.

March 16, 2018 06:46 AM PDT

"Anybody who gets into journalism for fame for fortune or awards right off the bat I write off as an idiot," says Mary Pilon.

So what’s the meaning of this? Mary Pilon again? For one I could listen to 52 episodes of Mary, but when we recorded I spliced the interview in two parts to shorten it and I’m glad I did at this point because my guest this week cancelled. What’s the lesson kids? Get interviews in the can. When I can it’s brilliant. Can’t always happen.

Mary Pilon’s second book, The Kevin Show, is out now. She’s also the author of the bestseller The Monopolists. Her work appears in the New Yorker, NBC, the New York Times, Grantland. She’s been featured in Best American Sports Writing. She’s a boss.

So for episode 91 of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to the worlds best artists about creating works of nonfiction, leaders in narrative journalism, doc film, radio, essay, and memoir, and tease out origins, routines, habits, key influences, favorite books and movies so that you can browse those tips and see what works for you, I’m sharing a bit of Mary’s origin story:

How did she become one of those Best 30 Journalists Under 30?
How did she get to the Wall Street Journal and How did she survive her New York Times layoff?
How did she ignite her freelance career?
What’s an anchor gig?
And the best advice she received from the late journalist David Carr.

We dig into all that fun stuff. Pair this episode with Ep. 18 and Ep. 90 and you’ll have the perfect Mary Pilon trilogy.

Little bit of housekeeping: I’m still doing edits for reviews. Give an honest review of the podcast on iTunes—one to five stars, your choice—show me proof, and I’ll coach up a piece of your work of up to 2,000 words. You can also leave an honest rating, which takes quite literally less than 10 seconds to do once you’re in iTunes.

March 09, 2018 06:21 AM PST

"I can't think about writing a big project. It's too overwhelming for me but I can think about a thousand words a day and then this magical thing happens which is you end up with 90,000 words," says Mary Pilon (@marypilon).

Hey, there CNFers, my CNFbuddies, I’m Brendan O’Meara and this is my podcast.

The Creative Nonfiction Podcast is the show where I speak to the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction: leaders in narrative journalism, essay, memoir, radio, and documentary film to tease out origins, habits, routines, key influences, mentors, self-doubt, so you can ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool, I’m not alone. I’m not a loser.’ And apply those tools of mastery to your own work.

I welcome back Mary Pilon who hasn’t been on the show since Episode 18, now we’re on Episode 90.

Mary comes back because she has a new book out: The Kevin Show: An Olympic Athlete’s Battle with Mental Illness.” Have you ever heard of Truman Show disorder, where people think they’re on a reality show? Well, Mary’s central figure, Kevin Hall, had that before the movie The Truman Show was even a thing.

Mary does an incredible job with this story and I think you should pull out your preferred method of payment and go buy the book. It’ll be in the show notes along with, what’s this, a transcript from the episode. You’ll go over to brendanomeara.com to see those goodies.

Hey, you know the show needs reviews and ratings, right? If you leave an honest review, I’ll edit a piece of your work up to 2,000 words. Just show me evidence of your review and I’ll reach out. It’s that simple.

This show was produced soup to nuts by me Brendan O’Meara. If you don’t already subscribe to the podcast, go on and do that. If you leave an honest review on iTunes and show me evidence of it, I’ll coach up a piece of your work up to 2,000 words. You give you get.

Also, I have a pretty slick monthly newsletter where I give out my monthly reading recommendations. Just head over to brendanomeara.com, put your email into the Smart Bar up top or the pop up window and you’ll get the next one. Once a month. No Spam. Can’t beat it.

Feel free to say hi to me on Twitter, @BrendanOMeara or @CNFPod, Instagram @BrendanOMeara where I’m showing how I’m making the first issue of CNF Pod Zine. What? A zine? Oh, yeah. And Facebook, @CNFPodcast. Say hi, my friends say I’m a pretty cool guy.

That’s it CNFers, have a CNFin’ great week.

February 23, 2018 08:00 AM PST

"I have to remind myself that I have to be a little nuts to do this. I think all writers have to be a little crazy," says Sarah Minor.

Wanna help the podcast? Leave an honest review on the iTunes, send me proof, and I'll coach up a piece of your writing of up to 2,000 words OR give you a fancy transcript of any single episode of the podcast you like. That was easy. Let's go.

It's that time again, what's up CNFers, my CNF-buddies, this is The Creative Nonfiction Podcast and I am your radio-handsome host Brendan O'Meara. This is the show where I bring you talented creators of nonfiction—leaders in narrative journalism, essay, memoir, radio, and documentary film—and tease out origins, habits, routines, influences, books, mentors—so that you can pick some of their tools of mastery, add it to your cart, and checkout free of charge.

That sounds fun, right?

This week I bring you Episode 89 with Sarah Minor, @sarahceniaminor on Twitter and @sarahcenia on Instagram). She is a professor and a writer and her essay "Threaded Forms: Decentered Approaches to Nonfiction," looks to knitters, stitchers, and quilting bees to discover new and subversive models for writing memoir. 

In this episode we talk about:

Visual Essays
How boredom dictates her direction
Losing voice and finding it
And the ever-present battle of dealing with social media
Let's do this.

Okay, if you go over to brendanomeara.com you'll be able to sign up for my monthly reading list newsletter that has book recommendations and what you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can't beat it. 

You can say hi to me on Twitter and Instagram @BrendanOMeara. @CNFPod is the podcast Twitter page and @CNFPodcast is the Facebook page. You'll find me hawking over those territories all the time. 

I am done. Have a CNFin' great week, friends.

February 16, 2018 08:15 AM PST

"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.

February 09, 2018 06:00 AM PST

"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
Nonlinear narratives
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.

February 02, 2018 08:15 AM PST

"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.

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