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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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by Brendan O'M...
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May 25, 2018 08:04 AM PDT

"You have to decide how you want to live in this ecosystem that is morphing around you," says Jane Friedman

Hey, CNFers, guess what?

Promotional support is provided by Hippocampus Magazine. Its 2018 Remember in November Contest for Creative Nonfiction is open for submissions until July 15th! This annual contest has a grand prize of $1,000 and publication for all finalists. That’s awesome. Visit hippocampusmagazine.com for details. Hippocampus Magazine: Memorable Creative Nonfiction.

It’s the Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to the best artists about telling true stories so you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.

For Episode 102 of CNF Pod, I welcome Jane Friedman, the titan (though not like Thanos) of the publishing industry, whose book The Business of Being a Writer, published by the University of Chicago Press, is the best and most frank book on earning a living with words.

It debunks a lot of myths and, quite honestly, could save a bunch of people from getting into the biz on false delusions and might even save more people from pursuing an MFA, a degree, IMO, that leads to more debt than fulfillment, controversial as that may be. And I have one, earned on the false pretenses of career advancement, but that’s not why we’re here.

Jane talks about her upbringing in a small mid-western town, I wish it was Pawnee, but it wasn’t.

How a writing career is very much individualistic
Dealing with shame
Playing the long game
Embracing Change instead of fighting it
And getting beyond the idea that the book is the be all, end all

Jane can be found on Twitter @janefriedman and you can find me @BrendanOMeara on Twitter and Instagram. The Podcast is @CNFPod on Twitter and @CNFPodcast on Facebook.

If you have a minute or two, please consider leaving a review on iTunes/Apple Podcasts. That would mean the world to me and will help this podcast reach more people looking to tell their best true story.

Head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes and to subscribe to my monthly reading list newsletter. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it.

May 18, 2018 08:10 AM PDT

"You can’t be passive and just sit back and wait for things to happen," says Andrew J. Chamberlain.

I’m Brendan O’Meara and this is the Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak to the best artists about telling true stories: leaders in narrative journalism, podcasting, radio, doc film, essay, and memoir and tease out origins, habits, routines, tactics, so you can improve your own work.

For Episode 101, I welcome fellow podcaster Andrew Chamberlain. He hosts The Creative Writers Toolbelt, a podcast that gets real granular on the writing process. He has a fiction slant, but his experience interviewing and with ghost writing opened the door for him to come on my show. As an FYI, I went on his show not too long ago, so you should go and check that out. I’ll include it in the show notes.

Andy breaks it down for you in this episode. Many of the tools apply to fiction, but if you’re anything like me, you want your nonfiction to read like fiction so I think you’ll get a lot of tasty nuggets from this one.

Hey, if you haven’t subscribed, go and do that on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, and soon Spotify, still waiting for approval on Spotify, but it’s coming, I promise.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by the 2018 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference. Now in its 6th year, the CNF Writers’ Conference is three days celebrating the art, craft, and business of writing true stories. May 24th through 26th in downtown Pittsburgh. Details at creative nonfiction.org/conference. Listeners of this podcast receive 20% off the registration price by entering coupon code CNFPODCAST during checkout.

Promotional support is provided by Hippocampus Magazine. Its 2018 Remember in November Contest for Creative Nonfiction is open for submissions until July 15th! This annual contest has a grand prize of $1,000 and publication for all finalists. That’s awesome. Visit hippocampusmagazine.com for details. Hippocampus Magazine: Memorable Creative Nonfiction.

Head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes for this and 100 other episodes. Follow me on Twitter @BrendanOMeara or @CNFPod. The podcast is on Facebook @CNFPodcast.

Sign up for my monthly reading list newsletter. It comes out on the first of the month and gives you a sampling of good books and what you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it.

May 11, 2018 06:58 AM PDT

"If I can get through the horribleness of the first draft, I have a chance," says Mary Karr.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by the 2018 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference. Now in its 6th year, the CNF Writers’ Conference is three days celebrating the art, craft, and business of writing true stories. May 24th through 26th in downtown Pittsburgh. Details at creative nonfiction.org/conference. Listeners of this podcast receive 20% off the registration price by entering coupon code CNFPODCAST during checkout

Promotional support is provided by Hippocampus Magazine. Its 2018 Remember in November Contest for Creative Nonfiction is open for submissions until July 15th! This annual contest has a grand prize of $1,000 and publication for all finalists. That’s awesome. Visit hippocampusmag.com for details. Hippocampus Magazine: Memorable Creative Nonfiction.

Whoa, boy, CNFers, it’s Episode 100 of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast. 100? Here for the first time? This is my jam, the show where I speak to the best artists about telling true stories: leaders in narrative journalism, memoir, doc film, radio, and personal essay to tease out tactics, habits, origins, and routines so you can improve your own work. I’m your host Brendan O’Meara. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your pods and share with a fellow CNF Buddy.

Man…Are you serious? 100 episodes and for this special occasion we here at CNF Pod HQ bring you Mary Karr. I’m sure 99.9% of you know who she is, but if you don’t here’s the rundown:

She’s the best-selling author of The Liar’s Club, Cherry, Lit, The Art of Memoir, and five books of poetry, including her latest, Tropic of Squalor published by Harper.

Mary is a professor at Syracuse University and is best known and most responsible for the boom in memoir when The Liar’s Club kicked all our asses and showed us what a personal story could be.

We talked a lot about the importance of patience, working through dozens of drafts, the nature of talent, and cellos, yes, cellos.

She’s @marykarrlit on Twitter and Facebook and her website is marykarr.com. Be sure to stick through the end of the show where Mary reads two amazing poems from Tropic of Squalor. You don’t want to miss out on that tasty goodness.

If you head over to brendanomeara.com you’ll find show notes as well as a chance to subscribe to my monthly reading list newsletter. And, no, if you click through and buy books I don’t get any kickbacks so you can rest assured that I’m selecting books that I enjoyed and get no compensation for. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat that.

You can also support the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes as that helps our little corner of the internet get a little bit bigger. If you leave an honest review and send me a screenshot, I’ll coach up a piece of your work of up to 2,000 words. No diggity.

That’s gonna do it, CNFers. Here’s to the next 100 CNFin’ shows up in your ears.

May 04, 2018 06:00 AM PDT

"I'd rather find the story and excavate it than make it up," says bestselling author and New Yorker staff writer David Grann.

The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I talk to the best artists about telling true stories and tease out origins, tactics, and habits so you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.

Welcome, CNFers, my CNFbuddies, oh, I’m feelin’ good today and boy do I have a treat for you. But first, if you don’t subscribe to the show, go and get it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and soon Spotify and join our little tribe in this true story corner of the Internet.

For Episode 99 I welcome David Grann, a New Yorker staff writer and the best-selling author of The Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. This is the best book I’ve read all year and with good reason. We dig into his approach to writing this book as well as key literary influences and why he ultimately landed on telling true stories.

Killers of the Flower Moon, a National Book Award finalist, is now available in paperback.

You can find more about David at his website davidgrann.netlify.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidGrann.

Big thanks as always to you the listener and to David for taking the time.

Hey, wanna help the show? Share this episode with a friend and think about giving it a review on iTunes. If you leave an honest review, send me a screenshot of it and I’ll coach up a piece of your work of up to 2,000 words.

Head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes and to subscribe to my monthly reading list newsletter. I give out my reading recommendations and what you might have missed from the world of the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat it.

Is that it? I think it is. Thanks for listening, CNFers. I’m out.

April 27, 2018 08:24 AM PDT

"I think it's important to get perspectives from people who don't write exactly what you write," says Lisa Romeo.

You know the drill…It’s the Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with leaders in the field of nonfiction about telling true stories, narrative journalists, doc film makers, essayists, memoirists, and radio producers to tease out tactics, habits, and routines, so you can apply those tools to your own work.

If you don’t already subscribe to the show, do it on Apple Podcasts. Google Play Music, Stitcher, and very soon, Spotify. If the episode or episodes strike a chord, share it with your friends. You are the social network, not those other goons.

Episode 98 feature Lisa Romeo (@lisaromeo on twitter), whose memoir Starting with Goodby: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss” tells the story of her late father and the continued relationship Lisa has with him in memory. It’s not a downer. Lisa writes it with such great tact that you never feel weighed down. Quite the opposite, really.

She talks about:

Brain dumps
Writing right away as a form of note taking even while close to the trauma
Getting perspectives from people outside your genre
And the Power of Paper Habits

Head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes and to sign up for my monthly reading list newsletter. Operative word monthly. I send out my reading recs along with what you might have missed ffrom the world of the podcast. You can even ask for my new CNF Pod Zine! Issue No. 1 is out.

Also, if you leave an honest review on iTunes and send me a screeshot of it, I’ll coach up a piece of your writing of up to 10 pages or about 2,000 words. That’s not reserved for five-star reviewers. You can leave a two-star review and I’ll still honor the deal, though if you made it this far you likely think the show has more than two stars worth of value, but whatever. These are things that move the meter in the podcastosphere, so those are deeply appreciated.

April 25, 2018 06:44 AM PDT

"If you're not doing something that scares you, at least a little bit, then you're wasting your time artistically," says Jeff Geiger.

So, imagine a candle and it has two wicks, one on the top and one on the bottom. Now picture me lighting the candle at both ends. Do you see this fresh imagery?

It’s almost as if this candle will burn out before its time.

I only wish this represented something.

What’s this? It’s not Friday! What is the meaning of these CNFin’ shenanigans? Well CNFers, I’m going to try and kill myself and do two episodes a week. Is this sustainable? The short answer is, of course, no, but if it can be managed that’s twice as many CNF buddies, twice the reach, twice the insights and double the insanity.

This Taco Tuesday I bring you the one and only Jeff Geiger, jcgeiger.com, j.c.geiger on Instagram. Jeff recently won a Moth Grand Slam event, a five-minute oral true story. Unfortunately you won’t hear that story, but his winning that event is what opened the door to have him—a novelist by trade—on the Creative Nonfiction Podcast.

What is this podcast wayward listener? It’s the show where I speak to the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction or tellers of true tales: leaders in narrative journalism, documentary film, essay, memoir, and radio where I tease out origins, habits, routines, and debilitating self-doubt so you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.

Jeff’s book “Wildman,” was named a 2017 YA book of the year by Amazon and is one of those great coming of age books that is fun and illuminating to read.

This episode is chock full of good and tasty nuggets. Jeff talks about his:

Failures
Transformation
Oral story telling
Not getting sucked down into the sunk costs of writing years in a different genre.

Bonus: Jeff is one of those amazingly energetic and energizing people, so I think you’ll get done with this episode and want to do your best work.

So go ahead and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. It’ll be on Spotify soon as well the normal places (iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher). Share this with a friend if you think they’ll dig it. Share it across you social platforms to spread the word.

CNFers, this is what we do. Enjoy episode 97 with Jeff Geiger!

So, we hit the 40 rating/review mark and I wanna thank all of you for taking the time, but let’s not stop there. Let’s get to the 50s, because reviews and ratings will help this little corner of the internet gain a bit of traction so we can reach and empower more tellers of true tales.

Head over to brendanomeara.com for show notes, but also to subscribe to my monthly newsletter where I hand out my nonfiction (and sometimes fiction) recommendations for the month as well as tidbits from the podcast. Once a month. No spam. Can’t beat that.

Got a question or concern? Ping me on Twitter @BrendanOMeara or @CNFPod. Like the Facebook page @CNFPodcast or send me an electronic mail gram.

As always, thanks for listening. Good bye till next time.

April 20, 2018 07:43 AM PDT

"When you need stuff done in conservation, you've gotta connect with the heart," says Emily Poole, illustrator for "Birdnote."

Hey, it’s the Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show were I speak to the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction, leaders in narrative journalism, doc film, memoir, essay, and radio and tease out habits, origins, routines and punishing self doubt so that you can apply those tools of mastery to your own work.

I’m your host, Brendan O’Meara, hey, hey…

Today’s episode is a little different for a couple reasons. One, it’s the first IN-PERSON interview in the history of the podcast. Two, it’s with an illustrator, whose book, "Birdnote: Chirps, Quirks, and Stories of 100 Birds from the Popular Public Radio Show" (published by Sasquatch), is out now.

Said illustrator is Emily Poole (epooleart on Instagram). Emily banged out 100 original illustrations and the cover for 101 paintings in about three months time.

How’d she do it? Bird by bird, buddy #AnneLamott.

In this episode you’ll learn about:

How Emily set up her days to accomplish this incredible feat of work.

How she’s able to process useful criticism vs. criticism that’s more hurtful than helpful.

And why art is important in the world of conservation.

Anyway, this was a fun conversation and I hope you dig it. Be sure to pick up a copy of Birdnote for the bird lover in your life. It won’t disappoint, and neither will Episode 96 with Emily Poole!

Subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your pods and consider leaving an honest review on iTunes to help bolster our little corner of the CNFin' Internet.

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.

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