Lessons My Podcast Guests Taught Me

Hear Us Roar, the weekly podcast I host for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, has been going since May 2018. The show has been downloaded over 27,000 times and the guests have ranged from authors who later hit the best-seller lists (Julie Clark, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai), won prestigious awards (Barbara Linn Probst, Jeannee Sacken), even started their own podcasts (Lainey Cameron, Kris Clink). The vast majority of them have gone on to write more books, as well as becoming writing instructors and book coaches, even co-founding a publishing house. They’ve beamed in from all over the United States, but also Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, and South Africa.

I thought I’d share a few insights I’ve had after six years:

Each writer has led a one-of-a-kind life.

One undeniable truth shines through all the interviews: every writer is unique and they are all someone you’d love to share a coffee with. Every interviewee, every author, every voice gave me a new perspective, a fresh take on the different directions a life can take. One woman has raised two autistic children, two writers were once soap opera stars, one was spied on by a best friend in Iraq. Several have cared for aging parents, many have been well-known journalists, one person has completed a documentary on book banning, another honchos a well-known book festival. It’s been a beautiful reminder that humanity is a rich tapestry woven from an infinite spectrum of experiences. Each week after the podcast I tell my husband that I just interviewed the most interesting person —and every week it’s been true.
Each writer has been unstoppable.

Writers are a persistent bunch.

Time and again, they’ve told me stories of agent rejections, publishers who went bankrupt, and reader events that bombed. They’d suffered setbacks, both financial and personal, experienced writer’s block and crippling self-doubt, and the very real necessity to support themselves and their family while still carving out time to write. But each of them has found a way. They adapted, they learned new skills, they turned obstacles into stepping stones They’ve taught me the power of unwavering spirit because despite all the challenges, every last one of them has published a novel.

Every writer put themselves in their book.

And I believe that’s why the magic happened. Some books were a thinly veiled recounting of their grandparent’s lives or a fictionalized version of a trauma they themselves experienced. Even though they weren’t always aware of it, as they told me their stories, I always caught glimpses of how their experiences, their backgrounds, their beliefs were reflected in their narratives. Sometimes it was intentional; oftentimes not. But I believe that’s why their books have resonated with readers.

Every writer needed help.

Writing a novel can feel like a solitary act – you, your computer, and a mountain of coffee. But the reality is, most successful books reach readers through the efforts of a whole village. If you don’t believe it, glance at the Acknowledgments section of the book you just finished reading. Editors, beta readers, critique partners – every person I interviewed described someone who played a crucial role in bringing their novel into a reality. Sometimes it was a trusted teacher, other times a writing buddy or a generous editor. And that person was often instrumental in providing just that extra push the writer needed at that precise moment to keep going. These connections, fostered through writing communities and online forums, were obviously a vital source of support and feedback and taught me that the journey of writing, from conception to publication, is more often than not a true collaborative effort.

These lessons, gleaned from hundreds of podcast episodes, serve as a constant source of inspiration for me. They celebrate the power of stories, the tenacity of the human spirit, and the magic that unfolds when writers connect. So, keep listening, keep reading, keep writing, and keep exploring the beautiful mess that is humanity – because you have your own unique story to tell. And the world needs to hear it.

Leave a Comment