Why I’m Not Podcasting

I have been getting the urge to podcast again. This means two things:

  1. I have a deadline coming up. (My ambitions are never quite as wide-ranging as they are when I have a deadline coming up.)
  2. I really need to blog more. (Because what could I say in a podcast that wouldn’t be the same said in a blog?)

You may have noticed the word “again” up there. I had a podcast for a while, although I was too chicken to ever list it on iTunes. (That’s…kind of the story of my life, and possibly why I didn’t get published until I was 51, or perhaps everything I would have written earlier was so terrible I wouldn’t have been published anyway, but I’m just going to tell myself it’s because I was chicken.) It was called Bad Parenting, and it was about dealing with my then-very-small kid. There were 25 episodes, and some of them weren’t bad; but I’ll tell you, my audio setup was terrible. I invested in limiters and mics and software, but the sound quality still sucked.

When I was doing publicity for THE COLD BETWEEN, I did a couple of podcast chats, and as part of the preparation for that I bought a USB mic to use with Skype. The sound quality? Gorgeous. For $60, I got better sound quality than hundreds of dollars and hours of reading had gained me 10 years ago.

Technology rocks, y’all.

(I should also mention that the only reason Bad Parenting ever existed was because of the Podcast Music Network. Free tunes! Except you were supposed to be a podcaster. So, in the Ethical Universe of Liz, this meant I had to be a podcaster in order to get the free tunes. Music motivates everything, at all times. And have I mentioned I’m kind of a binary thinker?)

We just returned from vacation (Acadia National Park, which is beautiful, but possibly rather too much like where I live the rest of the year to be as dazzling as I want it to be, apart from the ocean, which: wow), and I managed to leave most of my work notes at home, which meant I had to think about stuff instead of just cowering in a corner by the hotel pool whacking out words. So I thought about what I might talk about in a podcast.

(Wait, I hear you say. Shouldn’t you have been thinking about the book, even without your notes? Yes. I should have. Shush now.)

Most of what strikes me about all of this publishing stuff is that I don’t know shit about anything, and that’s disconcerting to me. Not that I’m not used to being ignorant – I’m ignorant about an enormous number of subjects, and destined to remain so, unless said subjects become something of immediate importance to me, like atmospheres and general relativity – but I’m not used to being ignorant of my own profession. There was a time I knew nothing about the software industry, but that would have been a loooooong time ago.

(That isn’t, by the way, the same as saying I was never ignorant at a new job. Every new job brings with it a period of utter stupidity, during which you go through the usual competence stages: 1) I can do this; 2) wow this is hard; 3) I’ll never learn this; 4) wait now I’ve got this; 5) I rock; 6) OMG I’m terrible and I don’t know shit. It’s not until you hit Stage 6 that you start to do genuinely solid work.)

One thing about blogging is that you never really know what people are going to be interested in reading. This blog has been kind of a generic diary for me. I’ve been a lot more careful of what I say since The Great Publication Date; although my hit rate hasn’t increased hugely, there’s the URL of my web site on the back of the book, so it feels more public even if, in practice, it isn’t. So there are things I don’t write about because it would be unprofessional, and because I remember enough of the competence stages to suspect I’d feel like a fool in about a year.

(Except for this one thing, which I swear someday I’ll write about, but long after I’ve passed Stage 6, if I ever do.)

But when I talk to my friends, what they really want to hear about is the process. They may, on some abstract level, care about What Publishing Is Really Like; but what they ask me about is my personal experience. Not “What’s the process of submitting a novel?” but “What was submission like for you?”

And hey, I figured, I can podcast about that! I can talk about my own experience! I don’t have to know anything to talk about my experience.

And then I realized: Being ignorant of publishing is part of my experience.

Not in a spreading misinformation sense. I am so wary of that. I don’t even know if all publishers work like mine does. (I suspect macrocosmically yes, microcosmically no.) I don’t even know if other authors at the same publisher have the same experience. And I don’t know how much of what I observe is the process, and how much is me and what I’m like to deal with. (I suspect, now and then, that I’m a pain in the ass. I don’t think I’m a major pain in the ass, but we all have our moments. And knowing that, I recognize that I may in fact be a major pain in the ass, in which case I sincerely apologize, but probably won’t be able to change because this is the best I can do.)

But I do know what it’s like to be tossed into the pool without any real idea of how deep it is, and without any real knowledge of whether or not I can actually swim. And I can certainly talk about how it feels to hang there, suspended in water of unknown depth, awaiting unknown currents, uncertain of the best way to avoid ignominious drowning.

I’m not going to podcast. (Seriously: deadline.) But…maybe I’ll blog a bit about What Publishing Is Really Like, From The Perspective Of Someone Who Is Wondering If She Should Have Brought Her Life Preserver.

As long as everybody remembers I know nothing, it should be fine.


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