The Creative Life Podcast: Episode Thirty-Two
This is a significant, soul-searching and (for me) sad episode. Except it’s not a ‘true’ episode because I haven’t got the accompanying audio… the very thing which makes a podcast! I recorded the below without realising that one of the drawbacks of reverting to a free account was that I would be way over the hour limit – I can’t squeeze these final fifteen-and-a-half minutes in as a finale. So when I say I can podcast without it.. ah, no. I got that bit wrong. (At least on the same account.) So hooray for blogs – I can publish the transcript here instead. Grammarly has prompted me throughout to make changes, but I’ve chosen to be faithful to what I said, even if it’s not grammatically perfect.
Welcome to episode 32 of The Creative Life podcast. I’m your host Karen Andrews and this is going to be a bittersweet episode. I’m already feeling a little emotional, so I hope I manage to get through this okay. But, first, let me start with the happiness of the occasion. This week is my blog’s 12th anniversary. Yes, I know I’ve told this story before, but let me say it again: on the 18th August 2006 I sat down at my computer and loaded up Blogspot (now more commonly known as Blogger), plugged in my email address and suddenly, impulsively, became a blogger. If you want to know more of my genesis tale of my blog I will direct you to Episodes 21 – my keynote at the Small Press Network conference – and Episodes eight & nine.
But that is not the focus of today – today is about the present. 2018. Sitting here as a 39-year-old, feeling very differently from that 27-year-old who sat down before.
Anniversaries are by their very nature reflective, and they may commemorate occasions either good or bad. They address the passing of time and an accumulation of experience, maybe even wisdom. Usually, I look forward to this blog’s anniversary because it was born out of a traumatic time and, frankly, I’m still amazed I’m here. This positivity helps with clarity which then informs what I write about at those times, as far as experience-gathering goes. But not this year. I’ve been feeling a little like Hamlet, my time has been out of joint. I don’t normally ask social media for content ideas, general, but as this anniversary approached I did. I was reminded there about the Chinese zodiac which runs on a repeating 12-year cycle. So does this anniversary make it more like its first if you follow that model? It seems fitting – with beginnings and endings. The more I thought about it things began to click. Decisions I’ve been wrestling with became obvious and – somewhat – less complicated.
So what would be my beginning from now? The next decade of my life, for starters, as my 40th birthday rapidly approaches. What will end? As much as it pains me to say, what will end is this podcast.
Before I go any further, I’d like to quote Hannah Gadsby from her ‘Nanette’ show, which I’m pretty sure a lot of you have heard of now – and if you haven’t, please go find it on Netflix because it is amazing. I’ve seen it twice and among the many powerful things she says was the part where she mentions reputation. About how obsessed with reputation we’ve become.
Twelve years ago, I didn’t have a reputation, didn’t really care for one, and didn’t really know what I was doing. Blogging was sneered at. We early voices in Australia – particularly in the ‘mummy blogging space’ – made our names for ourselves in spite of the criticism that was levelled at us because we chose to speak our truths and share stories which made people uncomfortable because – guess what! – parenting is hard. The one thing worse for the harshest critics was when we presumptuous, audacious parenting bloggers began to – shock horror! – make money and forge careers for ourselves. And not just us! Other bloggers in other niches as well.
As time passed and I did build a reputation – of sorts! – for myself, I did begin to care. My writing, on the blog at least, became more guarded. In part because I wanted to establish boundaries for my children and also in part (at certain times) because my anxiety voiced fears which could not be ignored. This meant I couldn’t press the publish button without some panic, no matter how silly, setting in. Being safer can mean being shallower, though, and that was okay if I didn’t make mistakes. You know how this ends, don’t you, because we’re human. I inevitably make mistakes. But I also kept going, even if for every post that made it onto the blog at least two remained in draft because I was so fearful. And – let’s face it – I’m also stubborn and ambitious. So I kept experimenting and kept going.
Which then brings us to this podcast. This irregular, curious, wonderful little side project that’s been going now for just over two years. I have no broadcasting background – which will come as no surprise to any experts here listening! – but that was okay because what I wanted for this was to grow in the same fashion as my blog, and with me having the same I’ll-learn-as-I-go mentality. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect, taking action was what mattered.
What I had now, which I didn’t in 2006, was somewhat of an idea of strategy, or at least a content pocket I was happy to be in and felt there was enough to explore within that. When I was starting the podcast I had more contacts in the publishing industry, certainly. With author and writer friends and their publishers. The technology at my disposal is worlds apart from what it was – as such that I CAN do everything myself, which might not have been possible five, eight, ten years ago, for example.
And it’s something I DO do myself – so every episode, from the recording to the editing to the uploading. Producing. All the writing in between. Social scheduling. I could go on. Could I have paid someone $20 – $50 an hour to do most of that for me? Yes, that’s an option. Except it’s not, for me, because I can’t afford to.
Leading me up more into the present. My Soundcloud Pro account – where my podcast was established, from the RSS feed gets fed through to other podcast platforms – that subscription just recently came up and chose not to renew it this year. I can still podcast without it, but it will make certain things trickier. It was an expense I couldn’t really justify (or afford) and so that was another deciding factor to let the podcast go. This is hard to admit. Because it feels embarrassing. Because – going back to that reputation fear again – I worry about what people might think about this announcement. Now, this is ego on my part, I get that. There’s a saying ‘Don’t complain and don’t explain’ and I’ve used that myself from time to time. I could use it now, I could just say, Goodbye and thanks for everything, and not even really give a reason, or just stop altogether and wait how long it takes for people to notice that nothing else is coming out.
But I think by explaining this decision some people will understand better: consumers who might not realise just how much work goes into something like a podcast, even one as small as this one, or a blog for that matter; fellow writers and producers will empathise at the long hours put in on their own time and dime. Without a grant or some kind of reliably monetised model, I simply cannot do it anymore. No matter how much I’ll miss talking to authors, or be proud of the fact that my interview skills are getting better, that I no longer feel I need to fill a silence, that a simple ‘yes’ sounds better than an affirmative “hmmm”. Although a few of them still creep in.
I should stress at this point what this doesn’t mean. This doesn’t mean I’m giving up blogging. No. You’re stuck with me. I’m not even saying I’m closing the door forever on podcasting. But if I was to start again I would do things differently. I mean, for starters, I would have a co-host – it’s hard doing this caper solo. The successes are all yours – but so are the failures. The mistakes. Which brings me to my last confession. I recently interviewed two wonderful women – Ailsa Piper and Emilie Zoey Baker – at the recent Williamstown Literary Festival for this podcast. However, as I discovered later that night once I returned home, for both interviews I neglected to click a very important button in Audacity: this meant the program recorded from the microphone of my terrible PC microphone and not my big, proper one. While I was thankful I at least had that as a backup, that audio is utterly unbroadcastable. It’s even inaudible in some places. I burst into tears and thought, ‘You idiot. You idiot. You amateur.’ Yep, so, a lot of that negative self-talk.
Later, once I’d calmed down, I realised that – hey – I am an amateur at this. Was that so terrible? I never used to think it was. It never used to be. So I got back up, transcribed the interviews and explained what happened and got on with things basically. Those two interviews will be posted on my blog over the next coming weeks. I do encourage you to go look out for them, they’re great. That’s another reason why I got so upset.
I’d like to leave on a high, and in that frame of mind let’s focus on some of my highlights about this podcast and the medium in general. It’s always nice to develop new skills and break down some of the scary, forbidding elements that kept me away from starting in the first place. YouTube helped me with that – it is a great resource and great rescuer – and I did pester some podcasting friends with questions along the way, too. If I ever start again, I won’t feel it’ll be from nothing.
Another thing is that I’ve learned to accept the things I can’t really change and press on in spite of them. I’m sure that sounds like a fairly famous poem out there! I have pretty severe TMJ/bruxism issues which necessitated an operation on my jaw in September 2012. Even though that was a success, my jaw mobility has never fully returned to what it was, nor will it ever, and as a result speaking can be a bit tricky because the jaw joint can get a bit stiff and sore and I can’t talk as fast as I used to! That isn’t necessarily a bad thing! The downside is when it takes me five tries to read a very basic script or I stumble over the pronunciation of a word I know I know but it just doesn’t come out right. But rather than be embarrassed, I choose to be proud: it’s what makes me, me.
Finally – okay now this is where I get sad. I’d like to thank everyone who’s listened over the years, be that one episode, even if this is the only one, or them all. I hope that I’ve helped provide some information and/or inspiration of some kind! To the writers who’ve agreed to be on here, it was wonderful spending time with you, talking about craft and books and much more. If you want to find me after all is said and done, I will be at karenandrews.com.au or Twitter and Instagram at @KarenAndrewsAU. Drop me a line, let me know how you’re going, sign up for my newsletter… I’ve got to throw in all these calls to action now! So yeah, I think that’s all.
Thanks for listening and take care. I’ll miss you.
And thanks for making it all the way to the end. x