Tracking A Project Through Its Lifespan
And how to know when to step away
“That is what we are trying to do—push for something more hopeful, sustainable, connected and creative.” —Laura Joyce Davis, podcast host and executive director
Preview: Episode 66, The Life Cycle of a Creative Project
At the beginning of the pandemic, writer Laura Joyce Davis had a simple vision: write a short essay six days a week and share them each day on a podcast. She knew nearly nothing about podcasts. Before she knew it, the project had blossomed into full time employment for both Davis and her writer husband. She has learned so much from her popular podcast, Shelter in Place, including how to learn from mistakes, how to engage with content that challenges her beliefs, how to work with a life partner, how to trust the process, how to adapt, and how to know when it’s time to close one chapter and start another. (Hint: it has to do with sustainability.) Join us for a deep dive into the life cycle of a longterm creative project—how it might start, what it has to teach us, and how it might end with intention and purpose.
Laura Joyce Davis is the host and executive producer of the award-winning narrative podcast Shelter in Place. She and her writer husband Nate together created the Social Impact Award-winning mentorship program Kasama Collective, as well as Labs Weekender, a self-paced narrative podcasting course. Podcast Magazine named Laura in their Top 22 Influencers in Podcasting for 2022. A writer for more than twenty years, her fiction has been recognized with a Fulbright scholarship, a Poets & Writers Magazine Exchange Award, two Pushcart Prize nominations, and occasional praise from her 3 children who believe that anything is possible with a good book, a cape, and a crown (she doesn't disagree).
What We’re Reading and Listening to:
A friend recently sent me this link to a three-minute clip of Elizabeth Gilbert talking with Oprah about what she has learned from grief—why it is “an honor,” and how it has taught her mercy. It blessed me with its truth.
Though the world is cruel, though people can be awful, we are still called to treat each other with astonishing generosity. I love the way Naomi Shihab Nye explores this call in her poem “Shoulders.” It’s an older poem that is always relevant.
I love this short essay on why paying attention to beauty matters. Written by Scottish poet Liezel Graham, it’s an exploration of how looking for beauty went from being “something for other people” to an integral part of her life and happiness.
My book club is reading Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (more on him below), and I am so glad the book is more than 600 pages long, because I don’t want this gorgeous, captivating novel to end. It’s so good! Doerr masterfully weaves stories across hundreds of years together to form a wonderful narrative about human stories.
I picked up Things to Look Forward To by Sophie Blackall on a friend’s recommendation and it’s a wonderful little reminder that even in terrible times there are always delights to anticipate and relish.
When the Audio Engineer Told Me She Needed a Few Tracks of Me Laughing
I sat in the closet with a microphone and laughed,
spinning golden mirth out of nothing.
I giggled and chuckled and let the laugh grow
like a peony in spring, like the shimmer of a gong
when struck soft and often, like the scent of coffee
that starts in the kitchen but soon infuses every room.
The laugh began stilted, perhaps, but soon I was laughing
with honest glee like a baby amused by its own hand,
laughing like a woman who has lost something precious
and now knows the value of laughing. Laughing like
a weed seed that lands in an irrigated field. Laughing
like dry kindling found by a match.
Laughing like a puddle that expands in a downpour,
like a door that’s picked its own latch. And the laughter
made so much space inside me—as if my inner map
had new boundaries drawn. As if I were released
from some old metal trap. And long after I’d recorded
a long track of laughter, I laughed. Till I cried, I laughed.
—Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
(that’s right friends—I had messed up my audio for last week’s interview, so I had to re-record myself, and our amazing audio engineer Leah Shaw Dameron asked if I could just make her a few laugh tracks … I highly recommend this activity. Just laugh into your phone for two minutes and record it—see what happens to your day.)
A Note About Paid Subscriptions:
First, we want to thank ALL our subscribers! We are so grateful you join us in this conversation about what it is to engage with yourself, the world and others in a creative way. And a BIG thank you to our paid subscribers. You make this podcast possible. Starting this month, only our paid subscribers will receive our bonus episodes as a thank you for their financial support.
This week we feature one of the most popular episodes from Shelter in Place, the award-winning podcast hosted and produced by last week’s guest, Laura Joyce Davis. Her guest is Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land. Doerr happened to be Davis’ fiction professor at University of Wisconsin. They talk about many themes we often touch on in Emerging Form: how creative practice becomes a practice of being a better human, imposter syndrome, productivity and why joy is important.
If you are not yet a paid subscriber, you can go now to our website, EmergingForm.substack.com or by clicking the button below. Thank you!
(share your answers with us here on Substack or in our FB group)
How do you know when a longterm, ongoing creative project is coming to an end?
What have you learned by sustaining a longterm creative practice?