“Quitter” is sometimes an insult, but in this episode we explore how quitting can be underrated. Anyone involved in a creative project has likely wondered at some point if they should suck it up and continue the fight or move on. We’ll also discuss the dangers of the sunk cost fallacy, insights from Clue, the value of a coin toss, and of course, obeying the emerging form. Then, we interview author and teacher Pam Houston, and ask her these two questions: 1) How do you know it’s time to quit? and 2) How do you distinguish between “this is hard but insights will come” from “this is hard and it can’t work”?
So you’re writing. Or painting. Or dancing. And you’re struck by this horrible feeling: what am I doing? How am I ever going to find the form and create something beautiful out of this tangled mess that I’ve assembled? Or you start to feel that your work doesn’t matter. That in fact, nothing matters. Your creative endeavors amount to nothing. You are nothing. Nothing’s worth saying. No creative project’s worth doing. And that, friends, is existential despair. It happens. Most people involved in creative projects experience this state at some point, and it can be tough to get out of. In this episode, we wonder, can we avoid it? What do we miss if we avoid it? What helps us to return to a sense of purpose and passion? Our special guest, encaustic/mixed media artist Andrea Bird from Ontario, Canada, joins us for our game of two questions and talks about how that grappling can actually be what helps push our work to the next level.
If you’re a poet or a painter or a musician or a dancer, you have to have talent, right? Maybe, maybe not. In this episode of Emerging Form, we explore talent. What exactly is it? How do you know if you have it? Is it necessary? Can you make up for it if you don’t have talent? Spoiler alert: the poet and the scientist do not agree on the answer to this one. As always, we’ll end with a game of Two Questions with friend of the show Jennifer Kahn, who writes for magazines like The New Yorker, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine and is an instructor at the Cal-Berkley journalism program. We’ll ask her to weigh in on whether talent is necessary, and if it’s possible to overcome lack of it in a creative field.
Emerging Form is a podcast about the creative process. It’s a discussion between a poet and a science journalist, recorded over wine. Episode 1 introduces hosts Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Christie Aschwanden as well as the podcast’s patron saint, poet Jack Mueller. And the hosts wrestle with what it really means to be in service to the writing–to let your creative project know more than you do.
*errata: in this episode, Rosemerry erroneously refers to Jack as a South Beach poet, but the correct name is “North Beach,” which is an old neighborhood in San Francisco and home to the iconic “City Lights Bookstore.”