What’s Emerging Form?

Emerging Form is a podcast about creative process. It’s a conversation between friends — science writer Christie Aschwanden and poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer — in which we discuss the joys, the agonies and the black holes of our creative endeavors. Each episode, we discuss issues and questions that plague creative people. Season 1 tackles question like: How can I get useful feedback? What’s the best way to counteract existential angst? How do I know when a project is finished? Can hard work overcome mediocre talent? How do I push through when I’m stuck? When should I call it quits on a project and when should I push through? How do I build a creative habit?

Why Emerging Form?

Once upon a time, there was a group of poets who would gather for wild slumber parties. One of them, a cantankerous genius named Jack Mueller, would use a black Sharpie to write witticisms on blank 3×5 cards. One night, he wrote in all caps, OBEY THE POEM’S EMERGING FORM! He then proceeded to shout the epigram for the rest of the night, permanently tattooing the phrase on Rosemerry, who has shared it at poetry readings and workshops ever since. The wisdom of Jack’s instruction struck Christie, too, and she and Rosemerry began a long-lasting conversation about emerging form — not just in poetry, but in wine, in art, in cooking, in sports training and even in friendship. Obey the emerging form has become our mantra.

Our friend Kate LaRue created Emerging Form’s playful logo, which represents not only our podcast’s initials (EF) but also a certain creature, struggling to emerge from a tangle of ideas. Listen to our first episode to learn more about our spirit animal. Kyra Kopestonsky created and performed our music. (She really knows how to put music to work.)

Who We Are

We met in 2007 in Telluride, Colorado, where Rosemerry was working as the director of the Telluride Writer’s Guild and hired Christie to teach a workshop on essay writing. We had a memorable (and highly charged) first meeting which we recounted in companion TEDx talks (RosemerryChristie) in 2016. During the 12 years since that first meeting, we have become close friends who cross-country ski race together, and spend hours cooking and discussing the creative process over wine. We are the kind of friends who call each other at all hours of day or night.

Christie Aschwanden is a journalist, essayist and author. She’s the former lead science writer at FiveThirtyEight and author of the New York Times bestseller, GOOD TO GO: What The Athlete in All Of Us Can Learn From the Strange Science of Recovery. Her work work appears in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wired, Discover, Slate, Consumer Reports, New Scientist, More, Men’s Journal, NPR.org, Smithsonian and O, the Oprah Magazine. She was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2011 and has received fellowships from the Santa Fe Institute, the Carter Center and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. She blogs about science at Last Word On Nothing and is the founder of the Creative Convergence freelance writing workshops. She has taught at the the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop, the Boulder Magazine Writer’s Conference and the Telluride Writer’s Guild. She lives with her husband and numerous animals on a small winery and farm in western Colorado. In her spare time, she enjoys trail running with her dog, bicycling, skiing, digging in the garden and raising heritage poultry.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poetry has appeared in O MagazineTEDx, in back alleys, on A Prairie Home Companion and on river rocks around town. Her poems have been described as “a deep oasis for all who seek to experience the sacred in every moment.” Her most recent collection, Naked for Tea, was a finalist for the Able Muse Poetry Prize. Other recent books include Even NowThe Miracle Already Happening and The Less I Hold. She’s included in the acclaimed anthology, Poetry of Presence and leads mindfulness poetry discussion groups. She served as San Miguel County’s first poet laureate and was appointed Western Slope Poet Laureate (2015-2017). Since 2006, she’s written a poem a day. Favorite themes in her poems include parenting, gardening, the natural world, love, thriving/failure and daily life. She’s performed and taught poetry for Think 360, Craig Hospital, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Weehawken Arts, Camp Coca Cola, meditation retreats (with Susie Harrington), 12-step recovery programs, hospice, Deepak Chopra, and many other organizations. She earned her MA in English Language & Linguistics at UW-Madison. Favorite one-word mantra: Adjust.ubscribe to our Substack and you’ll receive updates, new episodes, show notes and bonus content from Emerging Form. We also use this newsletter to share interesting research, ideas and insights about creativity and announcements about events (workshops, live shows, etc.) related to Emerging Form. If you sign up for the paid version, you’ll receive bonus episodes and other extras.

Contact us: emergingformpod@gmail.com

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A newsletter about creativity from Christie Aschwanden and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, makers of Emerging Form, a podcast about the creative process.


Christie Aschwanden is the author of the New York Times bestseller, GOOD TO GO: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery.
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, cohost of Emerging Form, has written a poem a day since 2006. Her books include Hush, Naked for Tea, and Even Now.