I started writing, recording, and editing podcasts for RTC last month. After I casually mentioned how much I wish to be Ira Glass at a breakfast meeting, Corey told me to start doing it now. Like any other daunting challenge I'm not qualified to undertake (no communications degree, no radio experience), I decided to have a panic attack instead of actually trying to do it. Once I realized my heavy breathing and stuttering wouldn't sound good on the recordings, I decided to relax.
I wrote my first podcast script in about an hour. It flowed out of my fingertips, so easy. I took a story that one of our clients told on a recorded phone call and narrated it. I recorded my narration, edited the call, and voila. Podcast #1 was complete. I felt like a million bucks. So, of course, I figured Podcast #2 would be just as simple: water, wine, happy hour.
I got so stuck. Trying to edit this second piece together felt like trying to knit with no fingers. I kept getting tangled up, searching for the story within the calls and how to best deliver it to the ears that would be listening. I fought with the script for days until I finally felt like I had something to work from and then...the disaster every writer everywhere fears most. It disappeared. I toggled from one screen to the other and BAM. It was gone. The ENTIRE script, 3 days worth of pining and writing and thinking was all sucked into the interwebs, gone. I searched saved files, recently opened files, Time Machine, autosave back-up files. I searched my computer from A folder to Z folder and the entire script was gone. JUST GONE.
I drank wine. So much wine.
No way am I going back and re-writing that entire thing. No WAY.
So, of course, I went back a few days later and started rewriting the entire thing. I plodded through, trying to remember what I'd done, running into the same exact pitfalls I'd experienced the first time around. (What's the definition of insanity?) Line after line I read and re-read, trying to make it just as good as it was before it disappeared. I desperately recreated the work I'd done. I consulted with other members of my team, asking for inspiration and guidance and help getting past this block to re-produce the script. When I'd finally finished and was ready to begin importing sound to the editing software and chopping it up according to the script I'd written, I listened. I didn't listen for my cut-cues or the places I knew my own voice would need to come in. I listened to the voice on the recording telling her story. I listened to the story. I just listened.
I ended up listening for over an hour, crying with my client as she shared her own experience. I heard her in a new way—I heard the story in a new way. And I realized all this time I was trying to write the story, the story was sitting right there patiently waiting for me to stop trying to write it and just listen.
Ain't life's metaphors grand?
After I'd listened to the entire call, I sat with it. I sat thinking about how many years I've spent trying to write my own script, how many years I tried to tell a story that was just patiently waiting for me to pay attention and live what was already there. It was liberating. Terrifying. Overwhelming.
Holy shit. I'm not the story-teller. I'm the one that's meant to live the story.
Follow me here. When I try to control everything, or attempt to give meaning to something that already has meaning, I fight against what already is. (And Oprah says that stress only happens when you resist what is.) By listening to my client’s story, accepting what is already there, I am not the one who will ultimately decide how the story goes. The story has already been decided. I am the one who will experience it. The only thing I get to control is how I frame it.
Recognizing that you are not the story-teller doesn't disqualify any attempts you have made to achieve your own goals or go after your own fate. It starts in the listening to the part of you, inside, that actually knows why you're here. Going after anything before you listen to that inner story is fruitless because it's not in alignment with who you are. We ask kids, 9th graders, to decide what they're going to be when they grow up, but if they don't know how to listen to their own stories, they're just going to choose what they think will make you happy/proud/content. Well, guess what? I haven't been much better than a 9th grader.
But I am now.
I'm listening now. I'm paying attention to the things that light me up, make me want to get out of bed in the morning, give me grace. That story will unfold if I stop writing and just let it happen. (And yours will, too.)