This morning I agreed to take over a podcast for my publisher.
Yeah. I’m going to be a podcaster. About writing. I know, it’s weird for me, too.
Way back in January I agreed to be part of an authors’ support group my publisher was putting together. I’m not much of a joiner, but I realized that if I were uncomfortable with being part of a group like that, I really needed to ignore my anti-social tendencies and join up. So I did. And it’s become an invaluable part of my week. God help me, I understand now that our authors’ group is a great idea.
Which is why, today, when several of us asked if we could use the group time to learn more about the craft of writing fiction, our publisher mentioned that would probably be a topic better left to a podcast they had going. He also mentioned that they hadn’t done anything with it in a while, and maybe one of us would like to take it over?
That’s when I became Arnold Horshack.* I volunteered like someone had offered me money to eat barbeque, the good kind, the Texas kind, not your Mephis or South Carolina stuff. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. A great idea, in fact.
Now? I wonder what I have gotten myself into. Here’s the portion of the podcast I’d be responsible for, according to my publisher: Finding new podcast guests, Inviting guests to be on the show, Scheduling interviews, Hosting the show and recording interviews and keeping a minimum 4-week backlog of pre-recorded shows, Contacting guests once the show goes live, Creating a show calendar/schedule – 1 per week, or more?
Yikes! This is the real deal, I’m responsible for stuff now. The actual work is something I can easily do, it’s just talking on the phone and writing stuff down. I’m good at both those things. And yet… there are five things I’m in a bit of a sweat over.
1. I’ll have to cut back on the milk.
I love milk. And ice cream. And cheese. But all those things make you phlegmy, which cuts down on the resonance of your voice, and really does affect the quality of any recording you do. Usually you have to cut back on dairy products two or three days before any performance, so this is something I’ll have to plan for.
2. I have to earn my acting chops all over.
I used to be an actor, back when I lived in Pasadena, CA. I made good money at it and everything, a for-real career. But I haven’t acted professionally in eight years. The techniques are still inside me, but it’s going to be a bit of a process to get comfortable again. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna choke at least once. Which, truth be told, is probably a good reason for people to tune in.
3. I have to convey information accurately and in an entertaining manner.
This is where having been an actor comes in, I have techniques for being heard and understood. I also did years of comedy improv, so I know how to listen (that’s the point of comedy improv, if you didn’t know, to improve your listening skills as an actor). But being a good interviewer/ podcaster is not necessarily the same skill as being a good improviser or actor. A podcast has to be informative AND entertaining, which means I need to step up my game.
4. I’ll have to plan, and stick to the plan.
Normally this is not a big deal, I plan all day every day, both in my pay-the-rent work and my writing. But when I’m performing, sometimes – I’ve been told – I go off-script from time to time. I hope that’ll do me good when my guests give me some sort of left-field anecdote, but it could also do me poorly if I get bored and decide to entertain myself. Stay tuned to see how this part goes.
5. I’ll have to trust others want to do quality work too.
I like to work alone. It’s one of the reasons I’m a writer, I get to control everything. But with this podcast, since it’s my publisher’s, I have to give up total control. I mentioned above the things I’d be responsible for, here are the things they’d be responsible for: Video / audio editing, Writing show notes, Creating images for blog posts, Creating and scheduling the blog posts. That’s a large part of the work, but it’s also where the character of the podcast gets created. Working as an actor means working as part of an ensemble, so relinquishing total control is something I’ve done before. Just not with stuff I do in my own office, at my own desk. We’ll see how it goes.
* a VERY old reference to a VERY old and terrible TV comedy from the 70’s. This was back when we had three commercial channels and PBS, we had to watch whatever was on at the time.