Back with purpose

Too many talk about growth; not enough talk about craft.

It’s been a while. I told myself I was just going to have January off — as a way of justifying not having written to you sooner — but then January bled into February and now every day is Blursday. Welcome to Lockdown Life 2021! 🙈

Over the Christmas break, I got a little disconnected from my overall mission, and spent the days in-between Christmas and the first week of January fumbling for the metaphorical plug so I could reconnect. In the intervening time between then and now, guidance from friends and people I hope to become better friends with — most of whom live inside of webcams — has helped me not only get on track, but start marching ahead with a renewed vigour. So, here I am, vigorously yours.

How to make an interview podcast

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a meaty blog post, combining everything I know — or could think of at the time — about making interview podcasts, which has been the bread-and-butter of my work as a podcast producer. They’re a magnificent way for thought-leader types to demonstrate their authority, or to gather knowledge and research from peers and people they revere (apologies for the awkward unintended rhyme).

It’s my first time writing a blog post in this style, and if you’re interested in the process, or you work on a podcast in this sphere and you want some tips, do check it out. There’s some nice old-school radio nuggets in there that absolutely apply to the medium of the podcast.

I did it. I decided to become a mentor. I am a mentor now.

I use the word “mentor” because for some reason — probably my innate anti-sport bias — the word “coach” doesn’t sit right with me. But essentially I’m now offering my brain up to those that would like to spend time picking it, on a regular monthly basis. It’s like therapy, but for your podcast. I listen to your work, help you hone your sound and develop your voice, give you some tips on technique, or just to help you feel like you’re not going through this alone (something I’ve often felt as a podcaster, and something I think a lot of us feel from time to time).

The tongue-in-cheek headline belies the fact that, while my default setting is a mix of snark and humility, I’ve been doing this a long while and frankly, there are things I know that I think other people are getting wrong, and I’d love to help people make podcasts that serve the listener, not just the creator. Lots of people talk about growth, not enough are talking about craft.

If you’re interested, it’s a paid scheme, but you can have a chat with me for 15 minutes or so, to see if there’s a fit. You’ll find lots more info here.

I wrote a kids’ book!

Towards the end of December I got a bit frustrated with The Whole Situation, and decided I would finally do something with the book that’s been sitting in a drawer since 2019, so I did it.

Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle is the first in what I hope will be a series of books set in the animal-filled steampunk town of Fogsworth. Here’s a bit of blurb:

Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle is a dryly funny book for kids, about friendship, co-operation, work, and society. The storyteller picks apart adult behaviour and celebrates the things that make us different, with funny observations about life in the real-world, as seen through the eyes of animals, in the fictional, steampunk town of Fogsworth.

I can’t tell you that it’s brilliant, I can’t tell you it’s hilarious, I can’t even tell you who it’s for, because I don’t know and no-one has yet been able to tell me. But I love it, I love the world, the characters — my favourites are two dog henchmen, one who only speaks in clichés, the other who only speaks in purple prose — the narrative point-of-view… it makes me so delighted to have made and finished a project.

If you’d like to check it out, the book’s free (or pay what you like), and the audiobook is a minimum of a pound (or a dollar and a bit), and it’s available on Gumroad.

I went (sort of, a little bit) viral!

On Friday, my friends Jon Hickman and Jon Bounds started workshopping a sea shanty based on the Handforth Parish Council Zoom compilation video that took the Internet by storm the previous night. If none of this means anything to you, probably best skipping this bit.

But you might know that sea shanties are a favourite of the young’ns of TikTok, so no news event is complete without it being depicted in melodic Scottish tones. For reasons too boring to go into now, my friends realised I could knock out a four-part harmonic shanty in under half an hour, so set me to work. And, um, it turns out the Internet quite liked it.

Currently the YouTube video is at 32.6k plays and the original tweet is nearing 30k views, with over 360 retweets and twice as many likes. I’m kind of fascinated by the numbers being viral content, and I wouldn't say we’ve gone viral, but we certainly made a dent in the Internet on Friday. It was a real blast.

I think the biggest lesson we can take from this is that the secret of virality is very much like the secret of comedy. Timming. And spelling.

Recommendations

  • Watch Ted Lasso on Apple TV+. Even if you’ve already watched it, watch it again.

  • Listen to The Rebound if you like tech talk but from people who swear and say funny things.

  • Go for a long walk if you can, ideally silently. They’re wonderful for clearing the cobwebs.

That’ll do, pig

That’ll rap it up for now. I’m hoping to get back to dispensing whatever qualifies as wisdom when it falls out of my brain, but for now I hope you’re able to settle for this “what I did on my holidays” missive. 🙂

Thanks, sincerely for letting me into your inbox once again. Have a wonderful week, and stay in touch; I love hearing from you.

Take care, you magnificent human.