Bibelots

a place for the curious

Category: obsession

Just one more . . . minute, thing, page, chocolate or straightening.

Listen up

People recording a radio play - black and white photo

Making a story,
The Netherlands Nationaal Archief

So, you’re going to make a podcast.

Great news. At least for me. You see, I’m a podcast addict. I walk. A lot. And everywhere I go I take a little audio show with me. If I’m on the train and there’s no  book to hand, there are a million podcasts awaiting my ears.

My question for you is: How are you going to capture my attention in this great flood of podcasts? Maybe you’ll ask me what I like and want to hear more about. Surely it’s all about what you’ve got to say, not how you say it.

Story before method, right?

Well, no. Not quite.

As any good (or struggling) writer will tell you, getting the story on the page is just part of the job. The rest will see you doing endless hours of editing and redrafting. It’s the same for everyone. Story creation is the hot rush of ideas and making stuff up. No-one makes anything flawless first time around. And we all know it. A poor edit can ruin a great idea.

Why then do so many podcasts consist of unedited talking heads? There are some great podcast topics out there. But they don’t make my adrenaline rush when I see them in my feed. I might still listen, but they are, sadly, filed under ‘quite nice’. Or worse, ’eminently skimmable’.

I organise my podcasts, not by topic, but by when and where I listen to them. One playlist is called ‘pay attention & listen’. It’s usually empty, because as soon as any of these guys land, I’m itching to listen in. I won’t do them the disservice of listening on a crowded street. I’ll find a quiet corner and make sure I don’t miss a single word. They demand it of me. Unedited talking heads do not.

If you want me to listen, give it some care and loving attention. Make it so I can’t not listen. Craft me something wonderful.

So, make it. But make it good. Right now could be the golden age of podcasts and you could be a part of it.

Yes, I love podcasts. Make it so I love yours.

Battle of the books

a woman smokes a cigarette while reading the paper

Longing for one story
while reading another.

I am currently reading two books.

Actually, that’s not quite right. I’m currently obsessed with two particular books. And I’m cheating on one.

I thought about disclosing what they are, but I wouldn’t like to bias your opinion for one combatant over the other. Both books have strangely connecting themes. Both are written by authors with the first name ‘Miranda’. (I may have already said too much.)

Both books are good reads. They’re both weird and both make me feel slightly uncomfortable, but in very different ways. When I wake up I think ‘I can’t wait to read that book by Miranda’. This thought is immediately followed by several minutes of guilt over who might win the competition for first read of the day.

How did all this happen? Why are these Mirandas in such fierce competition. What can I do to avoid it all again?

Not much. Not unless I can somehow remove deadlines from my existence, especially any to do with reading.

We’ve all experienced the battle of the books at one time or another. A book might need to be read in time for a book club discussion. Another could be an overdue library book, delicately nibbling at your conscience and your bank account in the form of overdue fees. Or maybe it’s a treasured loan from a good friend, and its continued presence in your house almost ensures an ending of coffee-stained proportions.

I’ve been through all of it. And more. The root cause of the problem is not that first, sweet, innocent book. It is always another book. One that is too damn good to put down. It’s suave. It’s appealing. It is the ‘other’ book.

It is the book that forces you to read at every opportunity. A minute in the lift? Read. Is that a red don’t walk signal flashing before you? Read. You read as you walk, as you eat and, yes, if you could, you’d do it in the shower. This unstoppable, delectable, almost-edible book is forcing you to cheat on your main read. And, time to admit it now, you’re loving it.

The terrible guilt-ridden shame of it all.

There’s no choice. You can never put down a ‘can’t put it down’ book. It has to be read. Fines, stains, guilt complexes and disapproving looks be damned. The ‘other’ book always wins.

In that sense, this current battle of the books is no different to any other. Except that usually, when the battle is on, one book is pulling ahead. Not this time. They are equally intriguing. I know I should just put down my-deadline free book and read what I’m meant to be reading. But, I’m not. It’s the same problem, no matter how I try to deny it.

I’ve tried keeping them at separate ends of the house. Making one a bedtime only book. Taking only the deadline-Miranda on the train with me. It doesn’t help. A good book calls to you. It must be read. There’s no logic to it. It’s why deadlines and reading for pleasure can never be friends.

Yes. I am, truly, reading two books. As and when I see fit. And loving it.

(Please don’t let either of them know, okay?)

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