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6 Jan

Thoughts on the podcast – As some of you may know, I recently did my very first episode of the new Liminality Bites podcast. If you haven’t listened to it already, you might want to just skip it and settle instead for today’s entry, in which I talk about where I went wrong.

“In short, episode one was a mitigated disaster.”

I received three emails concerning the podcast from my three most dedicated readers (or at least my three most prolific correspondents). Not coincidentally, I also happen to have relationships with these people outside of cyberspace—I imagine that people I only know online were too embarrassed for me to write. Of the three, one was supportive and encouraging, one was critical and honest, and one was pseudo-supportive and mercifully vague—a feat that only mothers are capable of achieving.

The critical individual was none other than That David Guy, which comes as no surprise to me. We are generally honest with each other, sometimes to the point of brutality, and if there is anyone in this world I can count on for an honest appraisal, it is David. Not that I didn’t appreciate the feedback from Kevin (he had some good points and advice) and The Mum (who, like all mothers, can find beauty in even the most putrid productions of her offspring), but David pretty much hit the nail on the head: “It was too long and it took forever to get to any point.”

I cannot argue with that. The podcast was eight minutes long, with the first few minutes explaining what I was doing and the last minute a painful wind-down tacked on because I couldn’t figure out how to end the blasted thing. In the creamy center was a lot of silence and verbal tics. I had a point, but I did take too long in getting to it. I estimate that the podcast probably would have been closer to three minutes had I simply read from the script draft I produced, and—I have to be honest here—I think it would have been a lot more interesting. It would have been scripted, yes, but it probably would have been a lot easier to listen to. In short, episode one was a mitigated disaster.

I say that partly because you only ever hear of “unmitigated disasters” and never of disasters that are mitigated in some way or another. But I also say that because it is true. I learned a lot from this, so it’s not a total wash. For one, it’s a lot harder to do an unscripted podcast than I thought it would be. I have a newfound respect for people who can sit in front of a mike and rattle off witty banter without preparing it beforehand. I also realized that doing a podcast is nothing like public speaking. I’ve never really had a problem with public speaking—getting up in front of people to talk doesn’t really bother me. But the complete lack of feedback from the audience is unnerving. It’s just you, all alone in front of the microphone.

That is one of the reasons that the podcast ended up too long and taking forever to get to any point. But there were other reasons as well. One of them is the fact that, while I’ve never had a problem with public speaking, I’ve always been better at writing. Some people make the mistake of thinking that writing is just speaking on paper, but in fact the two forms of communication are very different. Yes, there is the fact that speaking is very immediate, and once you say something you can’t really unsay it. Thus my confusion over the pronunciation of “chasm” (which, as Kevin pointed out, is “kaz-uhm”). Granted, I wouldn’t have had to worry about pronunciation if I were simply writing it, but to take a similar situation from writing I sometimes wonder about the exact meaning of a word or the proper choice of words. Writing gives me the chance to think about my word choice. It also gives me the chance to go back over what I’ve written and make corrections if necessary.

But to be perfectly honest, most of what you read here at Liminality is pretty much as it was when I first wrote it. I do think about what I want to write in advance, but I take no notes and write no outlines. I just start writing and eventually wind up at the end. The surprising thing is that most of the time I am able to say all that I want to say in a fairly organized fashion without thinking about the organization in advance. What I’m trying to say is this: I think differently when I write than when I speak. That may sound odd, but this attempt at a podcast has taught me that it is true. My thoughts just seem to progress differently when I’m speaking than when I’m writing. The structure of the script draft was very different from what eventually came out when I spoke off the cuff. Some things that were in the script were left out of the podcast entirely, and some things that weren’t in the script got added. The whole “resolution to make daily resolutions” thing, for example—that wasn’t in the original script, and I was surprised when it came out in the podcast. Now I am kicking myself in the head for that, because I think it is a very silly idea. (Not that daily goals are a bad thing, of course, but I think I got too hung up on having to make a resolution.)

The bottom line is that I am a much better written thinker than I am a spoken thinker, especially in English. I think it was always this way, but I don’t think it was nearly as pronounced a difference as it is now. This is mainly because I don’t speak in English very often these days, but I do write in English quite a bit. The only times I speak English are when I talk to my family in the States (not too often) or meet English-speaking friends here (again, not too often). The rest of the time it is all Korean. But writing is a different story. I have my journal entries here (which admittedly are not that frequent) and email, as well as the fact that I translate from Korean to English and thus end up writing English quite a bit (even if the translations aren’t my thoughts).

I think this particular attempt was also hampered by the fact that I wrote a script draft first and then spent much of the podcast trying to remember what it was I had wanted to say rather than just saying it. If I had had a brief set of notes in front of me I probably would have done much better.

So that’s that. I think I would like to try this podcast thing again sometime, but I can’t say when. The first attempt was rather discouraging, and I’m going to have to wait until I can think about it without becoming nauseous. When that happens, I’ll consider putting together episode two. I am going to avoid writing scripts and just type up some notes to keep me on track. The podcasts will be shorter (I’m thinking of a maximum of five minutes right now), and I may even try doing multiple takes for practice. We’ll have to see how it goes. Hopefully it will be less painful the next time around, both for you and for me, and maybe this will eventually turn into something worth listening to.

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