On the final day of #trypod month I sing the praises of the gloriously soporific podcast “Sleep with me”

podcasts

Yes, I listen to many a podcast. Do you? If not, you’re in for a treat. This month the faithful are invited to share their favourites with the uninitiated.

I listen in bed on my podcast phone app, which will stop automatically at the end of the podcast, if you click the right dot. This is essential if the content is sleepifying, like the confused, meandering, and absolutely bonkers all-time favourite, “Sleep With Me.”

Dozens have have written in admiration and bemusement about Drew Ackerman and his eccentric podcast. His stories are deadly dull and yet seriously weird. He cannot disguise the fact that he is brilliant and literate and cunning and pathologically benign.

Strongly recommended regardless of whether you need help getting to sleep.

For more terrific podcasts, search #trypod and find something that suits. We are spoiled for choice nowadays.

Norah Caplan-Bricker in the New Yorker about Sleep With Me

 

 

 

Advertisements

Why do we write the books we write?

mrsPandUrsula

I look at my latest novel and I think, why? Why did I write it, that book, that particular book in that particular way? Why didn’t I write a different novel, or write it in a different way? Why didn’t someone else write that novel? Why do I write any book at all nowadays?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Fixing Mrs Philpott, and lots of other people have told me they do too. (Allow me to toss in a few encouraging adjectives from my 24 fans: exuberant, giggling, positive, terrific writing, great fun, feminist, intrepid, life-affirming, adorable…) I love my funny worried self-deluding heroine and the cover and the entire concoction of stories and characters and earthquakes and sex and unstoppable tips from friends and strangers. Nevertheless, I’m puzzled about why I wrote it.

Not about why I write books in general: that’s fairly straightforward (on the surface). I love writing books, that’s why. I get high on the adventure, the puzzle, the impossibly difficult project. It’s how I get my thrills— intellectual (as half-formed ideas stretch out and colonise my brain), emotional (fear, pride, fear, the ecstasy of Flow), and aesthetic. That’s enough reason, surely?

But still, why writing instead of say, mathematics or scuba diving? A bunch of writing genes, a library habit, a ready-made audience of five sisters? No, because then we would have six poet-novelists in the family. Maybe some credit is due to aphantasia, leading me to compensate for mind-blindness with extra skills in language, narrative, and abstract thinking. That’s a stretch. Maybe the fact that my mother was briefly engaged to an eminent poet. (What? No. No!)

Who cares? I write books. I can’t help it. It’s a habit.

You are different. You write for your own particular reasons. I wonder what they are… maybe you’ll tell me…

That leaves the specific question: why did I write Fixing Mrs Philpott? I’ll leave that for another day.

Classic DIY recording booth

33073780492_0ab1508fce_z

I am proud of this Heath Robinson contraption in my study. My unique and glorious video recording booth is the result of about ten months’ trial and error and ingenious problem solving. What problems, you ask? Multiple engineering problems associated with recording short video lectures for my new online courses, for example:

  1. reduce echo to get a clear and friendly small room audio quality
  2. put lights in ideal position
  3. ditto for microphone
  4. ditto for MacBook Pro & its iSight camera
  5. enable impromptu instant recording any time without hanging drapes and duvets or moving stuff around
  6. record against a simple unobtrusive background
  7. and all this while keeping my study the serene space that it used to be.

They’re all one problem really and I hope they’re now all sorted. Except No. 6, which I’m working on.

How to make your own video recording booth for $64

So, you could make one too! Here’s what you need. Total cost $64 for the entire booth. (I’m not counting the hardware, namely microphone, computer and lights.)

  1. a basic stand-up desk borrowed from your friend who may take it back at any time
  2. 6 clamps (those orange sticky-out handles) ($54)
  3. 2 yoga mats,and scissors to cut them with (experience in home dressmaking an advantage) ($10)
  4. 11 bulldog clips (scrounge through office spaces and under couches)
  5. 2 pieces of old padded sofa cover (you know where they are)
  6. cheap plastic trolley with four trays (still usable for office stationery, ipad, Kindle etc))
  7. one cushion subdivided, two pillow cases (sacrificed in the cause)
  8. 8 large books (because trolley and standup desk are still too low).

In case you didn’t notice, I can’t stand sitting down for such tasks.

I’m just too clever for this world

So there you are! This is a classic blog post of the self-satisfied variety. I am just so proud (or maybe that’s relieved) I had to skite.

Now, about those courses…