Episode 27—Paul Lisicky on Writing in Unlikely Places, Simultaneous Projects, and Preserving Play

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Photo by Star Black
Photo by Star Black

“If you put too much focus on one thing you can kill it.”Paul Lisicky.

“What would it be like to be an amateur again?” —Paul Lisicky

When I get away from doing the podcast I forget how fun and uplifting the experience can be. Here, for Episode 27 (!), we have Paul Lisicky (@Paul_Lisicky), author of The Narrow Door (Graywolf Press, 2016).

Paul talked a lot about his own process and how that has changed over the years. He also talked about some of the best advice he can give an aspiring writer: cultivating fandom.

Why don’t you just listen to him?

Go ahead and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. If you think you know someone who would benefit from this interview, share it with them. Also, subscribe to my monthly newsletter. You can preview it here to see what it’s about. Dig it? Then put in your info along the right sidebar.

Thanks!

People Mentioned

Greg Hanlon
Bronwen Dickey
Maggie Messitt
Thomas Pynchon
Jane Bowles
John Hawkes
Flannery O’Connor
Joy Williams
Elizabeth Bishop

Other Books by Paul Lisicky

Unbuilt Projects
The Burning House
Famous Builder
Lawnboy

 

Episode 25—Elane Johnson on her Winning Essay, Accepting Your Work as Good, and Writers Block

august-in-chicago-2015

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“A successful writer is someone who alters me.” —Elane Johnson

“Teaching for me is writing.”—Elane Johnson

We’ve made it to 25 episodes, can you believe it?

Elane Johnson comes by the podcast to talk about her essay “The Math of Marriage,” which won Creative Nonfiction’s marriage essay contest for Issue No. 59. You’ll have to subscribe to magazine to read it.

What will be in store for the next 25 episodes of the podcast? I have no idea. I just hope you keep hanging around and listening to these often unsung writers talk about their work.

Elane also references Sarah Einstein, author of Mot: A Memoir. You can hear her episode too.

Episode 21—Bronwen Dickey on the Tao of Henry Rollins, Binaural Beats, and Her Three Rules for Any Writer

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By Brendan O’Meara

“There are all kinds of people who can easily out-write me, but there are very few who can outwork me.”—Bronwen Dickey.

“Henry Rollins said ‘Music is made by the people music saved,’ and I think stories are written by the people stories saved in the same way. And stories saved me from loneliness and boredom.”—Bronwen Dickey

It’s been a long time between episodes, but here’s a good one with author/journalist Bronwen Dickey.

We talk about her new book Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, which will hit book shelves on May 8. The book isn’t what you think it’s about, and we dive into that and many, many other things.

Enjoy!

Books Mentioned

The Brothers Karamazov
Riverside Shakespeare
Slouching Toward Bethlehem
The Collected Essays of Annie Dillard
Dispatches
Breath
The Fire Next Time
The Undertaking

Episode 20—Glenn Stout on his new book “The Selling of the Babe,” Dealing with Dead People, and the Transcendent Nature of Hitting Home Runs

Screen shot 2015-06-18 at 8.32.54 PM“You have to be out in the world and engaged in the world.” —Glenn Stout

“The truth always tells a better story.”—Glenn Stout

By Brendan O’Meara

First off, I’m like WAY behind in blog posts. I have to draw up one for Mary Pilon and Brian Mockenhaupt, but I’ll start with the latest episode and work backwards.

Enter Glenn Stout. [Hear our first interview…here]

His latest book The Selling of the Babe: The Deal That Changed Baseball and Created a Legend (St. Martin’s Press) comes out this week.

I speak to Glenn about dealing with dead people and how he approached a topic that, on its surface, felt saturated.

“You look at what seem to be time-worn topics and almost without fail you find something and you tell a better story, a newer story, a truer story,” says Glenn.

The first 30-35 minutes of the episode deal with the Babe, but the latter part riffs on random stuff.

Writers and Books Mentioned

Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Antonin Artaud, No More Masterpieces
Rainer Maria Rilke
James Wright
The Poetics of the New American Poetry
Langston Hughes
Michale Graff
Jeremy Collins
Eva Holland

A final call to action!

Please subscribe to the monthly newsletter if you like to have articles, quotes, and podcasts shipped to your email, curated by yours truly. Also subscribe to the podcast and share it with friends. Thanks!

#CNF Episode No. 17—Brin-Jonathan Butler on Bullfighting, How Surprise is His Biggest Weapon, and Access as a Drug

Brin-Jonathan Butler, Brendan O'Meara

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“Surprise is one of the biggest weapons you have as a journalist to affect people emotionally.” — Brin-Jonathan Butler

“The juice for me with journalism is not money or recognition. My ego is tied into access.” — Brin-Jonathan Butler

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Two pics? Whaaaaaaat? His photos rival Eva Holland’s irreverent, dare I say, get-the-fuck-out-of-my-face pic from Episode 15.

Butler is one of the smartest people I’ve ever spoken with. There’s a level of thinking and depth you don’t often hear from someone who’s in their mid-30s. You expect it from, say, George Saunders, but listening to Butler speak was a treasure for me and I hope so for you.

Like Holland, Glenn Stout, and Charles Bethea, Butler never studied journalism, yet he’s one of the best at his craft. I sense a theme that some of the best at this craft aren’t journalists by trade, but people who have a keen sense for language, are widely read, and think long and hard about the work. They aim for impact, not a sound bite.

You should also listen to him on the Longform Podcast from back in 2014. Pairing that interview with mine will give you tremendous insight into Butler’s mind.

Here’s a bunch of links to Butler’s work:

Buffalo and Wide Right, Broken Hearts and No Illusions
Myths Made Flesh: Last Breaths in a Spanish Bullring
The Poison Oasis
The Kindle Singles Interview with Mike Tyson
Errol Morris: The Kindle Singles Interview
The Domino Diaries

Please subscribe to my email list. You get access to these exclusive interviews and other cool stuff ONLY when I publish something and ONLY once a week. Small cost for big info.

 

Episode No. 15: Eva Holland on the Nature of her Hustle, Being Super Analog, and liking Faramir

Eva Holland

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“It’s been a long process at feeling at all stable.” —Eva Holland

“I don’t know how you keep going if you don’t think your work is good. you have to believe that you’re good.” —Eva Holland

Here were, yet again, with another episode of #CNF, this time with Eva Holland. Eva is a rising star and if you have a chance to buy stock in Holland, now’s the time.

Why read more of my guff when you can read hers? Here’s a list of some her work:

Unclimbable
Hellbent, But Not Broken
Why We Play
No Sleep Till Fairbanks

There’s a good primer.

Writers mentioned

Matt Power
Ian Frazier
David Grann

Books Mentioned

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Gone to New York by Ian Frazier
The Big Year by Mark Obmascik
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Thanks for listening. If you get a chance, please subscribe to the podcast and subscribe to my website. No spam, just good, good stuff.

Episode 12—Sarah Einstein on writing an other-person-centric memoir, Jane Eyre, and Count Chocula

Sarah Einstein, author of "Mot: A Memoir"
Sarah Einstein, author of “Mot: A Memoir”

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“I never imagined that I would write this book. I never imagined actually that I could write any book. The idea of book-length work terrified me.” —Sarah Einstein (@SarahEM2 on Twitter)

“I believe you have to give memory time to mellow and age and become a narrative.” —Sarah Einstein

 

Here I’ve got Sarah Einstein, author of Mot: A Memoir, a book that explores the friendship between Sarah and a homeless, mentally ill man named Mot (Tom backwards). He’s a brilliant, fascinating, resourceful man and an unlikely source of stability for Sarah during this period of her life.

In any case here’s the streaming player and notes from the show:

People mentioned:

Kevin Oderman
Dinty Moore
Sara Pritchard
Maggie Messitt

Books Mentioned:

Safekeeping and Three-Dog Life by Abigail Thomas
Two or Three Things I Know for Sure by Dorothy Allison
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Jane Erye by Charlotte Bronte

Subscribe to the show and sign up for the monthly newsletter from this very website. What a world!

Episode 11—Carrie Hagen on Finding the Essence of Story

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Written by Brendan O’Meara

 

The subject at hand is Carrie Hagen, author of We is Got Him. She and I met at grad school where she began fleshing out the story for We is Got Him. It’s her first book, but you’d think it was her third or fourth. I’ll let her do the talking.

As always I’d love for you to sign up for email updates (they arrive on Tuesdays if they arrive at all). Also be sure to subscribe to the podcast that way you’ll get the latest episodes of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast beamed straight to your favorite audio device.

Thanks!

Episode 8—Maggie Messitt on Shi#y First Drafts and Making Documentaries on Paper

maggie messitt, the rainy season

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Maggie Messitt (@maggiemessitt):

“I really embrace the shitty first draft.” 

“I was always into true stories, almost at an obsessive level.” 

Maggie Messitt wrote a gem of a book in The Rainy Season: Three Lives in the New South Africa. 

We talk about a lot of stuff, certainly about process and the challenge of writing book-length narrative. Maggie is a writer, author, teacher, hiker, dog owner, reporter, super kayaker, all-round liver-of-life. 

Also I introduce a new segment called the Bookshelf for the Apocalypse. What’s this? Should the world be ravaged by global pandemic, zombies, meteor strike or nuclear winter, and you were allowed ten books to keep in your survival pack, what would they be?

Hmm….

Below you’ll find a list of books Maggie mentioned that you may want to check out. Thanks for listening and I ask that you please subscribe to the podcast and sign up for the email newsletter.

Thanks so much!

Maggie’s Bookshelf for the Apocalypse

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadimann

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, An American Childhood, A Writing Life, all by Annie Dillard

Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

Open City by Teju Cole

Portrait with Keys by Ivan Vladislavic

A dictionary

What is Justice? by Robert C. Solomon and Mark C. Murphy

Episode 7—Richard Gilbert Bought a Farm

Richard Gilbert, author of “Shepherd: A Memoir,” stopped by the podcast in 2014.

Written by Brendan O’Meara

[Tweetables to come!]

Richard Gilbert is the author of Shepherd, a memoir about his days on an Ohio farm fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a farmer. He raised flocks of sheep, got hurt, dealt with ragweed allergies, the list goes on and on. It’s a wonderful book and I think after listening to Richard you’ll want to devour it and also follow his great blog, Draft No. 4, and follow him on Twitter @richardsgilbert.

The audio to the podcast kinda sucks. For that I’m sorry. There are some points where my Skype connection got real choppy. Other times the audio gets uneven. I’m sorry, but brighter days are coming. Subscribe to Hashtag #CNF on iTunes and sign up for the weekly emailer that updates you on the week’s posts. That’s it! Enjoy!