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 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”

Episode 76—Erica Berry on Binge Writing, Writing as Learning, and Werewolves

Erica Berry wrote “Beasts Among Us” for the 13th issue of True Story

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Erica Berry (@ericajberry on Twitter):

“Joan Didion said ‘Writers are always selling people out’ and I have chafed against that because I don’t feel like I want to be.”

“I’m a pretty binge-y writer.”

“The essay lets you learn as you’re writing.”

In a week where Creative Nonfiction reached its Kickstarter goal to support its monthly offshoot True Story, what better than to have the latest True Story author on the show? Continue reading “Episode 76—Erica Berry on Binge Writing, Writing as Learning, and Werewolves”

Episode 75—Chris Arvidson on “The Love of Baseball,” Deadlines, Pacing, and Curiosity

Chris Arvidson, co-editor of “The Love of Baseball,” joins me on the podcast this week.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Chris Arvidson (www.chrisarvidson.com):

“I don’t need to hear another story about how you went to the baseball game with your dad.”

“We wanted to have that feeling of experience of how people experience baseball over a lifetime.”

“How do you set up your story and how do you make it move?”

“There’s so much great real stuff happening that it seemed dumb to make up anything.”

“You have to write every day and you have to ask every day.”

This week I welcome Chris Arvidson for Episode 75 of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction, leaders in narrative journalism, radio, essay, memoir, and documentary film and try to tease out their stories, habits and routines so you can improve your own creative practice.

Chris co-edited along with Diana Nelson Jones The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans published by McFarland. It’s a beautiful book and we talk about its genesis, what makes for good baseball writing vs. horrible baseball writing, what’s the most important thing for Chris when developing a story, the organic nature of building a network, favorite books on writing, and much more.

Chris also edited the anthologies Reflections on the New River and Mountain Memoirs. You can find more about her and her work at chrisarvidson.com.

Books Mentioned

I, Who Did Not Die by Meredith May and others
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Writing Creative Nonfiction by Philip Gerard [podcast here]
Draft No. 4 by John McPhee
Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark [podcast here]

Episode 74—Madeleine Blais says Reality is Compelling Enough

Pulitzer Prize winner Madeleine Blais joined me on the podcast. Maddy is a dear friend and treasured mentor and it was so great to speak to her about her work and her new book “To the New Owners.”

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Madeleine Blais

“I always say mixed feelings equal material.”

“You’re only as great as your next story.”

“If you’re a feature writer or a person who does longform, you start to suspect a lot of depth in a lot of people.”

“I try to tell myself that nothing is ever wasted.”

“Reality was compelling enough.”

“I like the stories that make me feel like I’m going in the opposite direction of other people.”

Welcome back to another episode of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction to try and tease out the origins, habits, and routines so that you can apply their skills of mastery to your own work: narrative journalists, New York Times bestselling authors, award-winning filmmakers and, yes, even a Pulitzer Prize winner. Continue reading “Episode 74—Madeleine Blais says Reality is Compelling Enough”

Episode 73—Patsy Sims on Book Research as Mini-education, Not Giving Up, and “The Stories We Tell”

Patsy Sims
Patsy Sims reporting at a KKK rally for her 1978 book “The Klan.”

By Brendan O’Meara

“The novel I always wanted to write didn’t have to be fiction.”

“What they gave women was pitiful.”

“Sure, you have everything on the tape recorder, but that’s the beauty of it and it’s up to me to be selective.”

“Transcribing is another point of getting this in your head.”

“I guess the lesson there is perseverance. Not giving up.”

Hey, CNFers, it’s The Creative Nonfiction Podcast the show where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction. I try and tease out the origins and tactics from leaders in narrative journalism (like Susan Orlean), personal essay (like Elizabeth Rush), memoir (like Andre Dubus III), radio (like Joe Donahue), and documentary film (like Penny Lane), so you can apply their tools of mastery to your own work. Continue reading “Episode 73—Patsy Sims on Book Research as Mini-education, Not Giving Up, and “The Stories We Tell””

Episode 72—Creative Nonfiction’s Hattie Fletcher Kickstarts Year 2 of ‘True Story’

By Brendan O’Meara

“[True Story] is a snack between the main meal.” —Hattie Fletcher

It’s 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, documentary film, essay, memoir and radio and try to deconstruct how these masters go about the work so that you can improve your own.

This week I welcome back Hattie Fletcher, who is the managing editor for Creative Nonfiction Magazine. What prompted a second trip? Hattie, along with Lee Gutkind and the team over at Creative Nonfiction, started a $27,000 Kickstarter campaign to support the second year of True Story, their monthly offshoot to the quarterly magazine.

True Story is a 5,000-10,000-word stand-alone piece in chapbook or digital form. It’s pretty rad.

In this episode we talk about:

  • What makes the green-lit pieces pop
  • What the rejected pieces have in common
  • And also some of the goodies you can expect with a pledge.

I hope after listening to this you’ll head over to the Kickstarter campaign and pledge some hard-earned dough so they can keep doing the work they’re doing on True Story.

Full disclosure, I don’t get any kickbacks of any kind.

What a guy.

It would be nice if you shared the episode and even left a nice review over on iTunes to help validate the podcast so I can keep doing this thing. I’d hate for the business office to come down and slam the door shut on this enterprise. Keep the reviews coming so I can keep the doors open at CNFHQ.

Episode 71—Working Backward with Elizabeth Rush

Elizabeth Rush, Brendan O'Meara
Elizabeth Rush, whose essay “Something Like Vertigo” appeared in Creative Nonfiction Issue 64, joins me on the podcast this week.

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Elizabeth Rush (@elizabetharush on Twitter):

“I’m just a mule. I just show up every day and climb very, very slowly up that mountain.”

“I know writing is about your writing, but it’s also about your networking.”

“My first draft is the Ugly Middle.”

“I feel like I turn to writers to help me solve problems that I’m having.”

Continue reading “Episode 71—Working Backward with Elizabeth Rush”