I am a writer, but I am not yet the writer I want to be.
I have had very little in the way of formal training. I do not have a college degree or an MFA. I have taken a few, scattered writing courses (most recently a class on writing fantasy at the wonderful Grub Street in Boston), but mostly I’ve cobbled together random bits and pieces – like a magpie collecting shiny things to adorn its nest.
Though my journey has followed a somewhat circuitous path, I believe that I have made progress. From a seven-year-old scribbling in a notebook that I pilfered from the supply closet at the bank where my dad was a VP, I have evolved into someone who makes her living with words – crafting content for my marketing clients, writing a column for my local paper, and even occasionally penning a feature piece for a regional magazine.
But, I am still not the writer I want to be.
I ache to write fiction, but as a single mama workin’ this gig, I can’t easily afford time to play in the speculative and financially unstable world of fiction. The writing that pays my bills takes precedence. Making time to practice and study the craft of fiction is a challenge for me, to say the least.
Enter the power of the podcast.
Those of you who’ve been hanging around here awhile already know that I am a huge and unabashed fan of audio books. If it weren’t for audio books, I’d probably only manage to read a handful of novels each year. But with Audible in my pocket, I am able to “read” while I walk, drive, do the dishes, run the vacuum, etc. It’s a beautiful thing.
Podcasts are another audio format that allow me to connect with content while I’m doing something else. I have been listening to several marketing podcasts for a while, but only recently decided to investigate writing podcasts. Long story short, I struck gold with a brand new podcast called Inside Creative Writing.
Brad Reed is the writer and educator behind this podcast. As a frequent podcast listener, I can be a bit of a critic, but this guy is doing a fabulous job. His shows are highly informative, entertaining, and actionable. I frequently pause in my walk to jot down a note so I don’t forget what he’s said about a particular technique or insight. He has put a lot of thought into his format – alternating one-man shows with interviews and always including a couple of closing elements – “Wise Words” (inspirational and thought-provoking quotes) and a writing assignment (not a prompt, but an assignment on applying the techniques discussed in the show). His production quality is great, his show notes are thorough, and he even has a way for listeners to participate in the show by leaving him a voicemail with a quote for the Wise Words segment, which he then edits into the actual show. (You can hear my debut appearance in Show #8.)
Can you tell I’m a bit of a fan?
The thing is, we’re only eight shows into this podcast, and I have already learned SO much. Reed covers topics in a way that is clear and non-threatening. He makes great use of examples to bring each of the concepts and techniques to life. He isn’t afraid to take deep dives on a topic, making sure you – as the listener – really have a chance to fully absorb and process the idea. Also (and this counts in my book), he’s a really nice guy. I emailed him a quick note of appreciation and wound up having a very pleasant email chat. I can tell that Reed is doing this with his community firmly in mind.
I really can’t recommend the show enough. I was talking to a group of writer friends earlier this week about our favorite writing resources – the go-to books, blogs, and magazines that help us get a handle on what the hell we’re doing. All the usual suspects came up, but then the conversation took a turn as one of the writers sputtered, “They’re all great, but I never have time to read them!” Too true.
I subscribe to Poets & Writers. It’s an excellent magazine (probably one of the very best on the topic of writing). I always learn something when I read an issue, but – like my friend – I can’t always find time to read them. As a matter of fact, I have four unread issues sitting in a pile next to my desk right now. I feel guilty and frustrated and a little defeated when I think about how long those magazines have been sitting there, waiting for me to find a few minutes to crack their crisp covers. Alas, I don’t see that happening in the near future. However, the Inside Creative Writing podcast is filling that gap in my education quite nicely. I can honestly say that I am learning as much (if not more) about good story writing by listening to Reed as I would poring over the pages of Poets & Writers. (And, that’s saying something!)
I guess the most telling thing I can say about how much I like the show is this: I’m willing to pay for it.
In the most recent episode, Reed invited listeners to become supporters by making a voluntary donation to help offset show costs. He called it the “public broadcasting model.” I immediately went to www.insidecreativewriting.com and clicked the “Donate” button. I plunked down $36 – what I might pay for a year’s subscription to a quality, writing magazine – and was happy to do it.
After all, I can certainly forego a few lattes in the name of becoming the writer I want to be.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
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