Anu Partanen never planned to move to the United States.
She was very happy living as a journalist in Finland until she fell in love with an American, and ended up moving to NYC so they could marry and be together.
Once moving here, Anu became even more aware of the advantages her home country had provided: universal high-quality health care, childcare, maternity leave, elder care, and on and on. For the first time, she was presented with bills and policies that didn't make sense to her. As a journalist, she began researching the differences between the US and the Nordic countries, expanding her research to include policies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well as Finland. The result was the book, The Nordic Theory of Everything.
I read this book in late 2017, wooed by the topic of social change. I was blown away and immediately knew I had to speak to the author. Our conversation explores the potential impact on writers and people in creative fields and how the way the US treats people could be the reason countless people choose not to pursue a career as a writer. Thankfully, we also find hope in this conversation, as well as actions people can take (in addition to seeking Finnish citizenship) to improve life as a creative professional.
I'm so grateful to release this episode in the last slot of 2017, just in time for us to make big changes that support more and more writing in the New Year. Happy listening!
Everyone has heard the classic trope write what you love. In some cases, I have felt a bit bullied by this concept. "How am I supposed to know what I love most?" I have wondered. I think the best thing you can do to figure this out is to listen to this conversation with Mark Frauenfelder and listen to how he followed what was fascinating to him and wrote books and articles about these things along the way.
In this conversation we talk about the day job that Mark escaped to write and it is the worst day job for a writer I have yet heard of. In addition, learn about how Boing Boing was founded. The original office space for the zine version sounds like my version of heaven and I'm sure it will to you, too.
Above all, Mark is an incredible role model for making a living from curiosity, enthusiasm, and being willing to dive into a world you don't entirely know yet. His fascination with a variety of topics and being willing to write about them just because he loves learning is both infectious and a great example to the rest of us. If we follow his lead, I think we are in for a lot of amazing books to hit digital and physical shelves very soon.
A journalist and author of numerous non-fiction books on the Middle East, Malu Halasa has just published her first novel, Mother of All Pigs. Born in Oklahoma, her Jordanian Filipina heritage gave her a unique perspective from the beginning. After growing up in Ohio, she attended Barnard College in New York and now lives in London. From this vantage point, she's taken on the fascinating world of the Middle East and has worked hard to expand the number of voices heard from that area.
Throughout the conversation we explore the tricky thing that is "American Literature." When she first began working on this novel in the 90s, Malu didn't expect to publish it because there didn't appear to be a market in the states for Middle Eastern narrative. People were willing to read non-fiction, but not a novel. As she looked on bookshelves she wondered "where is my family story?" Luckily for us, she wrote it herself.
It is my hope that more people do the same. If a story is missing from the shelves, it doesn't mean it shouldn't be included. We need to challenge the publishing status quo by supporting fiction that expands our boundaries and helps us learn. I hope you are inspired by listening to this episode to think about what story you have to tell that isn't currently getting heard. I can't imagine how many stories we aren't reading that need to be read. If you have a story like this, listen to this episode and then write your story. We want to hear your story, too.
Sandra Scofield is like a warm hug from writing itself.
For ages, I've loved Sandra Scofield's The Scene Book with its reassuring composition notebook cover and its practical advice about writing great scenes. When I learned that Sandra had a new book about writing coming on, I knew I had to have her on the show. Her latest, The Last Draft, tackles that tricky topic of revision and polishing your work until its ready to be read by others.
I adored talking with Sandra because her approach is so generous and comforting to the writer. She grants permission to explore the world you want to build in your story fully and gently guides us through the process of working through your draft. Those who love analog and stepping away from the computer at points to reflect will feel at home with Sandra.