Episode 50—Ted Conover’s Deep Dive into Immersion

Author Ted Conover. Photo by Jay Leibold

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Ted Conover:

How could I write a thesis and get out of the library?

What if I’d been a little more cautious? I probably would’ve missed out and I can’t tell you what I’d be doing today. I hate to think about it.

Experience that doubles as research is really cool.

You have to see that team spirit as a tool for learning about people.

When you take notes, you’re writing to yourself. These are notes to the person who’s going to write about this.

If the experience is the raw  material, do I have enough to create a finished product?

For the 50th episode of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, we had to go big and that’s what we did.

Ted Conover (@tedconover on Twitter), author of so many books (Rolling Nowhere, Coyotes, Newjack) including his latest Immersion: A Writer’s Guide to Going Deep, joined me to talk about why he wrote the book and how he has employed those tactics for the past 40 years.

“The research you do is determinative, right?” Conover says. “It defines what you’re going to be able to write in many ways.”

Thanks for listening. Please share, subscribe, and leave a review on iTunes.

Episode 49—Dinty W. Moore on the Gift of Feedback, Reading Like a Mechanic, and Patience

Dinty W. Moore, author of “The Story Cure.”

Tweetables by Dinty Moore:

“I don’t spend a lot of time lingering over breakfast.”

“The people I know who fail as writers … lack patience, stubbornness.”

“The story’s got to move on.”

“I don’t think, ‘Oh, God, I hate myself. I’m a horrible writer.’ I think, ‘You know what? I can actually fix this.'”

By Brendan O’Meara

Dinty Moore (@brevitymag) runs the creative writing program at Ohio University. He founded Brevity Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to short (<750 words) nonfiction. He’s written a dozen books.

“I don’t spend a lot of time lingering over breakfast,” he says on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast. [Subscribe on the Apple Podcast app or Google Play Music! And leave a review in iTunes. One generous soul has left a 5-star review! Join him/her!]

Dinty’s latest book, The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir (Ten Speed Press), will help diagnose—and cure!—common ailments in your project, whether you’re far along in a book (as I am) or you’re just getting starting.

Check this: When dealing with early drafts (and Dinty writes as many as 40), he says, “I don’t think, ‘Oh, God, I hate myself. I’m a horrible person.’ I think, ‘You know what? I can actually fix this.'”

Great advice for patience and kindness to you and your work.

Please leave a review on iTunes, subscribe to the podcast, and share with a friend.

Thanks for listening!

I also mention Mary-Heather Noble and Kim Kankiewicz as it applies to a part of conversation on patience. Check them out if you haven’t already!

Episode 48—Roy Peter Clark Redux

By Brendan O’Meara

This week on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast decided to revisit my episode with Roy Peter Clark (@RoyPeterClark on Twitter), this time condensing that two-hour interview and pulling out the best moments.

In it we hear Roy talk about how he learned to swim in the language, the moment he learned the true meaning of literacy, and when research can become crippling.

I’m experimenting with the form and making it more like a mini one-source profile. Let me know what you think. I think it makes for a better overall listen. Ping me on Twitter @BrendanOMeara with thoughts, or to say hi.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple podcast app and on Google Play Music. Leave a rating if you’re feeling extra kind. Those help.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 47—Shawna Kenney on ‘Zines, Advice, and Finding Your Tribe

Shawna Kenney, punk rock to the bone.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Shawna Kenney:

“The punk scene became a pre-Internet web of people for me to connect with.”

“Like any reader, I liked that [words] could take me away.”

“I’m much better on the page than I am verbally.”

“I always wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson without the drugs.”

“It’s not like I pitch an outlet and sit there waiting hopefully.”

“There’s no one right way to do your art.”

Shawna Kenney, author, writer, teacher, coach, editor, joins me on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast to talk about her origin story as a teenage fanzine founder, punk rock, and her delightful short essay “Never Call Yourself a Writer, and Other Rules for Writing,” a brilliant piece of satire.

She grew up in a conservative family in small-town Maryland, so the nearby punk scene in Washington D.C. held tremendous appeal. “I always wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson without the drugs,” Shawna tells me.

Her work has such an edge that I was surprised that she didn’t have that edge in conversation. “I’m much better on the page than I am verbally,” she says, which isn’t true at all. She’s great on the page, and she’s a great conversationalist.

Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, the New York Times, Vice, and Playboy, just to name a few. Be sure to follow Shawna on Twitter @ShawnaJKenney and go to her website to read more about her and her work.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 46—Editor Hattie Fletcher on Seeing Rhythms and the Power of Reading Slush

Hattie Fletcher
Hattie Fletcher, editor selfie

By Brendan O’Meara

Hattie Fletcher Tweetables:

“I spent a lot of time getting at what writers were trying to do with their stories and trying to make stories be the best form of that.”

“If you want to make a print object there’s an obligation to make a nice print object.”

“Editors, I guess, wield power. I don’t know anyone who loves saying ‘no.’ It’s not a personal thing.”

“The best part of my job—and it comes four times a year—is saying ‘yes’ to people.”

“Reading slush is such a great exercise for a writer.”

“I don’t think art that is deliberately mapped out is any less artful.”

Here we are for Episode 46 (!) of The #CNF Podcast with Creative Nonfiction’s managing editor Hattie Fletcher.

If you want to improve your writing and possibly improve your chances of being published in Creative Nonfictionthen this is your episode.

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Thanks for listening!

Episode 43—Mary Heather Noble on Emotional Charge, Emotional Distance, and Not Discarding Work

Mary Heather Noble’s “Eulogy for an Owl” won Creative Nonfiction’s Editor’s Prize. Photo by H. Romero

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Mary Heather Noble

“I think it really gets at the heart of whatever people perceive themselves to be, as part of a natural system or not.”

“The emotional charge came to light for me. Before [Eulogy for an Owl] was a creative nonfiction, research-based thing that didn’t have any pow to it, didn’t have a story behind it, it was just a fascination for me.”

“It needs to rise like bread, first, before you can take it any further, or let it cool before you frost it.”

“I know not to throw away writing.”

“Writing is a little bit more like quilt making where you keep these other parts and less materializing from thin air.”

“I’m one of those writers who has spurts and dry spells.”

“Other different art forms can inform our writing.”

“I tend to look at my pieces like a box of puppies that need to find homes.”

Great day and a sad day.

Great that I get to share this episode with Mary Heather Noble (@MH_Noble on Twitter). Sad because I had to delete Episodes 1 through 8 from the #CNF archive for storage reasons.

That will likely be the case from now on. Every new episode will kick out the oldest one. 

If people want older episodes, I’m working on transcripts (ugh) and possibly putting old episodes on CDs. I admire those folks and podcasts with the budgets to keep all their work up indefinitely, but with no ad revenue or subscription service, I can’t keep pace. It already costs me quite a bit as is.

That said…

I welcome Mary Heather Noble, an environmental writer who won Creative Nonfiction’s editor’s prize in Issue 61’s “Learning from Nature” edition. Her essay “Eulogy for an Owl” is a magnificent piece of writing and particularly profound for me it talks about moving out west and the latent guilt of leaving bitter family behind.

Just so you know, the misses and I are totally down with the move, but we receive(d) our fair share of guilt trips, which is particularly maddening, but that’s neither here nor there. We’re here to talk about Mary Heather’s work and her approach.

Housekeeping: Share this episode with someone you think will get value from it, subscribe, leave a 5-star review in your directory of choice. Makes me feel good and will help the podcast reach more people.

Let’s dive in. Here’s Mary Heather Noble.

Also mentioned is Kim Kankiewicz’ episode. 

Episode 42—Roy Peter Clark, America’s Writing Coach on Living Inside the Language, Lowering Standards, and the Meaning of Literacy

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Roy Peter Clark:

“If I live till 90, I hope that year I’m still learning about the craft and still helping in some way.”

“We’re probably going to see new things in it because our autobiography has changed.”

“If you’re literate, you read in certain ways and you write in certain kinds of ways, but it’s the third element people fail to see: If you are a literate person, you have the capacity to talk about [it].”

“Every piece of writing needs a focus, a central idea.”

“It’s my mission to open the door for literacy and good writing wider and wider so more and more people can imagine themselves as belonging to a community of writers, a nation of writers.”

“What good is freedom of expression if we lack the means to express ourselves?” 

“Too often, more research is an excuse for not writing.”

Howdy there, CNFers, hope you’re having a CNFin good week.

I snagged you a great guest this week, luck on my part and generosity on the part of Roy Peter Clark, America’s Writing Coach, scholar, and author of five books on writing in ten years: Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, Help! For Writers, How to Write Short and The Art of X-Ray Reading.

I’m going to repeat that: five books in ten years. I revisit them all the time to sharpen the saw. Each time I crack open, say, Writing Tools, I become better and better.

In this episode you’ll learn a lot about how Roy came to live inside the language, and how those early experiences led him, ultimately, to the Poynter Institute where he coached and influenced a nation of writers.

Maybe the most important takeaway from this issue of #CNF is the amount of mentors and teachers Roy mentions throughout this episode and the influence they had on his development as a writer and teacher. 

I debated whether to break this up into two episodes, but decided to leave it as one whole.

I do hope you’ll share this episode with others, subscribe if you haven’t already, rate it, if you haven’t already, LIKE THE FACEBOOK PAGE, subscribe to my email newsletter, etc, etc…

Thanks for listening, guys, now sit back and enjoy the one and only Roy Peter Clark.

Some of Roy’s columns from Poynter.org:

Trump on quotation marks

On William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well

On Jimmy Breslin #legend

 

 

Episode 41—Jennifer Niesslein, the Full Grown Person behind Full Grown People

Jennifer Niesslein
Jennifer Niesslein talks about what it means to be an editor.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables:

“I only write when I have something that I really need to figure out.”

“My job is to get the essay to its platonic ideal.”

“I took a personal crisis and made a publication out of it.”

“I wanted to make the magic happen.”

“So much of writing is rhythm.”

Jennifer Niesslein, formerly a co-editor and co-founder of Brain, Child, and currently editor and founder of Full Grown People, joined me on Episode 41 to talk about the art of editing.

Her essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, the Brevity blog, Virginia Quarterly, and The Nervous Breakdown.

She’s also the author of Practically Perfect in Every Way.

Why wait any longer? Here’s Jennifer Niesslein.

Episode 40—How to Be Like Mike (Copperman)

Mike Copperman
Essayist, memoirist, novelist, Michael Copperman

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables courtesy of Mike Copperman

“I think the emphasis on process is something you learn in sports. You need to pay more attention to how it is what you’re doing and not what the outcome necessarily is.” 

“To me I’ve got to have my heart in it and I have to have something to say or something at stake.”

“I’ve learned that I have to trust that impulse, which just means sticking with the process and how you would write.”

“What is true that I don’t want to admit both within myself and about the world I’m interacting in?”

“I don’t give anybody a savior story because that wasn’t my story to tell.”

“It was my way of writing myself whole.”

Mike Copperman, author of Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta (University Press of Mississippi), joined me talk about his book, and how he became a writer. 

His work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Oxford American, Guernica and many, many others places. Be sure to check out his website for more

Beyond that, all I ask is that you share this episode with people you think will get something out of it and that you quickly rate the podcast. It’ll help me reach more people and get these gifted writers in front of more readers.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 39—The Gentleman’s Guide to Arousal-Free Slow Dancing

By Brendan O’Meara

I tried something a little new. Not the reading of the essay part. I’ve done that before on the podcast. I added some serious production value to the reading of The Gentleman’s Guide for Arousal-Free Slow Dancing. 

I added some music in throughout the piece. I think it helps jazz it up without distracting too much. Let me know what you think because I’ll probably invite writers to read essays and try to do something similar each time. 

This essay appeared in Creative Nonfiction No. 62, an issue themed “Joy: Unexpected Brightness in the Darkest Times.”

I also interviewed Kim Kankiewicz and Angela Palm, both represented in this issue.

Thanks for listening!