Episode 88—Rachel Corbett says, “Stop Trying So Hard”

Rachel Corbett
Rachel Corbett knows a thing or two about Rilke, so she came by The Creative Nonfiction Podcast.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables from Rachel Corbett (@RachelNCorbett):

“There is some advantage to saying nothing and letting people go on forever.”

“It’s usually when you stop trying so hard that you something happens.”

“You have to away for a few days and then come back and look at it fresh and see what’s magical about the information.”

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 (like Bronwen Dickey here and here), 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

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)

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Writers Mentioned

Annie Proulx
Cormac McCarthy
William Gass
Geoff Dyer

Episode 87—Hope Wabuke on Empowering the Marginalized, Starting from the Present, and Finding Her Experience

Hope Wabuke’s “The Animals in the Yard” was nominated by “Creative Nonfiction” for a 2018 Pushcart Prize.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables from Hope Wabuke (@HopeWabuke):

“I like to start from the present. It’s vibrant and visceral and has these questions that are lingering throughout time but we can access them.”

“I was looking for myself. Where is my experience?”

“Your parents moved the entire world. What are you going to do with your one wild life?

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. 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 hear from 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
  • 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 usually have to pay double for that in Vegas, Cotton.

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Books by Hope

The Leaving
Movement No. 1: Trains

Writers Mentioned

James Baldwin
Nikki Giovanni
Maya Angelou
Toni Morrison
Zadie Smith
Audre Lorde

Episode 86—Noah Strycker on his Big Year in Birding, Community, and What to Leave Out

Noah Strycker, author of “Birding Without Borders,” hopped on the podcast this week.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Noah Strycker (@noahstrycker on Twitter and Instagram):

“I had to be pretty brutal about picking out the things I thought were the highlights. 3 1/2 weeks in Columbia was distilled to one or two sentences.”

“The momentum generated its own momentum.”

“I’m not a very fast writer. If I write 500 words in a day I’m pretty happy.”

“My best advice to people who want to write in any capacity. Just do it. Get started. It doesn’t matter where you’re published.”

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. [Free shipping anywhere in America! via Tsunami Books!] Continue reading “Episode 86—Noah Strycker on his Big Year in Birding, Community, and What to Leave Out”

Episode 85—Jamie Zvirzdin on Sincerity, Permission, and Hard Work

Jamie Zvirzdin was the runner up in Creative Nonfiction’s “Science and Religion” essay contest.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables from Jamie Zvirzdin (@jamiezvirzdin):

“To be sincere is to be powerful and creative nonfiction allows me to do that, to be sincere.”

“I don’t want to be content with what I know.”

“I don’t believe in ghosts, the afterlife, and I don’t believe in the muse. I believe in hard work.”

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. Continue reading “Episode 85—Jamie Zvirzdin on Sincerity, Permission, and Hard Work”

Episode 84—Adam Valen Levinson: Young and Restless

Adam Valen Levinson is the author of The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Adam Valen Levinson (@a_v_levinson):

“I made a religion out of indecision.”

“I believe in soup: You stew everything together and then you get real complex flavors and the truth.”

“I’m driven by an emotional connection to what I’m doing.”

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. Continue reading “Episode 84—Adam Valen Levinson: Young and Restless”

Episode 83—Victoria Stopp on Battling Chronic Pain, Being Disorganized, and Writing in a Camper

Victoria Stopp can’t be…stopped…Sorry. She’s the author of “Hurting Like Hell, Living with Gusto.”

By Brendan O’Meara

“Going toward solitude and away from excuses has really helped me.” —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. Continue reading “Episode 83—Victoria Stopp on Battling Chronic Pain, Being Disorganized, and Writing in a Camper”

Episode 82—The Language of the Gods

Sometimes I write stuff.

By Brendan O’Meara

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. It’s got a new Twitter thingy

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. Continue reading “Episode 82—The Language of the Gods”

Episode 81—Google as Religious Experience and Trusting Self-Doubt with Rachel Wilkinson

Rachel Wilkinson, whose essay “Search History” won Creative Nonfiction’s Best Essay for Issue 65 Science and Religion, joined me on Episode 81. Photo by Morgan Kayser.

Tweetables by Rachel Wilkinson (@realclownishink):

“Failure is part of the process.”

“It’s kind of like the Internet is everybody’s dad.”

“I think of research as this open-ended, beautiful thing.”

“Research is this vehicle that allows you to follow your interests however long you want to follow it.”

“If you can’t love the grind, you’re doomed.”

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!

People Mentioned

Eula Biss
Maggie Nelson
Claudia Rankine
Leslie Jamison

Books Mentioned

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again
The War of Art
Citizen
Notes from No Man’s Land

 

Episode 80—The Wild Life of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas co-authored “Tamed and Untamed” with Sy Montgomery.

By Brendan O’Meara

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas says:

“I don’t think I followed a very traditional pathway and just did what I felt like doing.”

“11 o’clock in the morning is an optimistic time.”

“I love to work. I love being completely absorbed in something else.”

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. Continue reading “Episode 80—The Wild Life of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas”

Episode 79—From Potholes in Parking Lots to the Jungles of Borneo with Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery, author of the bestselling “The Soul of an Octopus,” is one of the most adventurous and pleasant people you will hear on this show.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Sy Montgomery (@SyTheAuthor): 

“I have never picked the safe option and I have never regretted choosing what I’ve chosen ever.”

“I don’t always believe in myself. I can’t just believe in myself because I’m not that great. But I do believe in my project.”

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). Continue reading “Episode 79—From Potholes in Parking Lots to the Jungles of Borneo with Sy Montgomery”