Many of my writing friends have graduated from MFA programs. A handful of them now teach in MFA programs around the country. I confess I have long envied their wealth of resources and regular connection to high quality lectures on all the topics that fascinate me. Alas, there are several other people in my family who need undergraduate degrees before I could consider continuing my own education. So how to grow as an artist? How to keep fresh in my reading and challenge my assumptions about craft? I have gone to many a writers’ conference over the years and found them invaluable. But at this point in my career, three books in print, one being printed currently, and more than a dozen completed manuscripts, I’m looking for maximum substance and minimal disturbance to my writing routine.
Enter the pod cast. I’ve discovered to my delight a number of podcasts that offer regular discussion of all things writerly. I like to listen to them when I’ve got a long solo road trip or when I’m cooking dinner. I’m going to list three of my favorites in the hopes that you will help me find more.
The first podcast I became aware of is The Narrative Breakdown by Cheryl Klein and James Monohan. It is a blog focused on the craft of story making through the lens of fiction editor Cheryl Klein and script and screewriter James Monohan. They really go in depth on topics from scene construction to character development to the power of irony. You can find their website here or subscribe to them through iTunes.
I have more recently found the New Yorker: Fiction which is a simple concept that is packed with good insights for the serious writer. I should say at the outset that my godparents got me a book of O. Henry’s short stories for my 10th birthday and I’ve been a fan of short stories ever since. This podcast is hosted by the editor of the New Yorker. She invites a different New Yorker story writer to choose a story from the archive and read it aloud. Then they discuss what makes the story special. Though none of the stories in the New Yorker are for children, I’ve learned a lot and broadened my scope considerably.
The third podcast I listen to regularly is more of a fan thing. I’ve been a reader of Sherman Alexie’s work for decades before he wrote for children. He’s a very engaging speaker and I’ve heard him in person a dozen times at least so when I heard he has a podcast, I subscribed immediately. The podcast is called A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment and it’s an ongoing conversation with fellow writer and small town Washington boy Jess Walters. The conversations they have range widely but are fascinating and revolve around all the various aspects of the writers life with the occasional foray into basketball and middle aged angst.
I would love to hear about your favorite podcasts in the comments.