01:06: Memoirist Lori Tharps

The editing experience is always challenging. But it’s perhaps most difficult when you are telling your own story.

That is the focus of what I discussed with memoirist and journalist Lori Tharps, who is most recently a collaborator on Proud, the autobiography of Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympics. Tharps, herself, has written memoir in several forms, including her 2008 book Kinky Gazpacho.

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01:05: YA Author Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh comes from “book people, going back generations.”

The author of the 2017 Young Adult Fiction novel “Who’s That Girl” from HarperCollins, she says there is a saying around her family. Never give a Thornburgh a book — or you’ll be forced to sit there politely while they read it in front of you.

She’s just 28 but as an editor at beloved novelty publisher Quirk Books and in the midst of a two-book deal with a major industry powerhouse, she has some insight.

The author of two books, an editor on several others and working on her next novel, she reminds us that the joy of a book is that, as author, “you’re making a promise to the reader” and want to deliver.

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01:04 Comedian Todd Glass

How does a joke writer take a punchline from a voice memo to a major Netflix comedy special? Let’s ask celebrated standup comedian Todd Glass.

In the fourth episode of the first season of the weekly Writing Process Podcast, I discuss that among many other methodologies from a man who doesn’t quite consider himself a writer. Todd’s perspective is unique: he grew up with several learning disabilities, so his relationship to writing is far different than others.

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01:03 Rapper Chill Moody

As hip hop became a global, cultural force, the definition of rapper has stretched.

But its origins, as a cornerstone of live events, remain very much alive in people like Chill MoodyA native of West Philadelphia, Chill is an effortless emcee on stage and fiercely proud of his lyrics. Though he grew up in the economically distressed (though by no means monolithic) Overbrook neighborhood, Chill excelled academically and came from a supportive family. As a much-beloved underground artist, he uses music as a storytelling platform, for his experience and those like him.

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01:02 Novelist Zinzi Clemmons

With her What We Lose, Zinzi Clemmons had the breakthrough debut novel you might dream of.

Upon its release last year, Vogue called it the ‘debut novel of the year;’ Vanity Fair called it “powerful” and the Atlantic called it “striking.” She was named a National Book Award 5 Under 35 Honoree, and the New York Times profiled her.

Though she is exceptional for these and other reasons (prestigious universities, born of a mixed-race South African immigrant mother), Zinzi has plenty to offer other writers by way of advice. It helps that she teaches writing at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

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01:01: USA Today Journalist Jess Estepa

In the pilot episode of my new weekly podcast The Writing Process, I speak with my dear friend Jess Estepa. She’s a national politics reporter for USA Today.

She also was the first person I called when I wanted to figure out what exactly I wanted to accomplish with this idea of mine. I knew I wanted to capture real lessons on writing from lots of different forms, but I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Jess patiently let me sort that out.

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Introducing The Writing Process: my new weekly podcast

Today I am announcing a new personal passion project: a weekly podcast conversation with master writers from an array of different forms.

Humans have spoken to each other for maybe 100,000 years (or, uh, a lot longer). But we’ve only had writing for 6,000 of them. We’ve cultivated corn for twice as long.

Even though it’s relatively new, we have lots of forms of writing: from  short stories and novels to journalism and memoir to poems and lyrics and comics and software code. When I talk to friends who are gifted in any of these, I find they listen closely to the Greats in their form. But rarely the Greats from the other forms. That feels like an opportunity.

That’s why I’m launching The Writing Process, a weekly podcast conversation I have with masters from all of the many writing forms. Please subscribe on iTunes or other places podcasts can be found. I’ll also be posting each episode here.

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On a long drive? What’s one good new idea you can develop on the road

Funny how when you don’t do something, it can feel special.

More than 9 in 10 Americans drive at least once a week and a majority commute daily by automobile. I don’t. One of my first burning desires to make part of my adult life was to not be reliant on a car.

I chose to live in a heavenly walkable neighborhood in one of our country’s few cities that can be truly lived in without a car. I sold my car. I bicycle to work, live near a major subway line and can walk to daily needs like a supermarket, doctor, veterinarian, barber and plenty of nightlife.

Cars are misused in cities and create weird parking culture. But I don’t hate cars. They’re a novelty to me now. So I’ve developed a little game when I’m in one.

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Do not save writing for later, more will come: ‘The Writing Life’ by Annie Dillard

The Writing Life,‘ a 1989 collection of essays from novelist Annie Dillard, is one of the foundational contributions to the canon of teaching modern fiction writing.

A few months ago, I finally tore through the tidy, celebrated, delightful little book, commonly known as the friendly, fiction alternative to the 1920 grammarian guide from Strunk and White. (Interestingly a New York Times book review took a dim view of her collection, but it’s cherished today.)

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Economics terms that help me understand the world

Since my undergrad years, I’ve taken an interest in the pop science of behavioral economics. From books and articles and podcasts aplenty, I’ve found the shallow edges of the social science quite helpful for my worldview.

The clearest result of that has been an entire set of familiar terms that help explain the world. These phrases have been valuable to me. I’d like to share them with you.

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