Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One Q & One A with "Listen Well" Podcaster Margaret Dulaney

Podcasting, that is, posting on-line audio (and now also video) files, has been around for a while but it's catching on as listeners, especially the over 40 set, are realizing there are, literally, troves of fabulous podcasts, almost all free, to listen to while commuting, cooking, exercising, or just sitting in a chair enjoying the view. Yes, those troves take a little work to find, as they are scattered across yea, vaster than vast fields of um, compost. But a treasure trove is a treasure trove (and as Gertrude would say), is a treasure trove. And one of the most sparkling treasures in the trove is Margaret Dulaney's monthly offering at "Listen Well." 

Continuing my ongoing series of Q & A with other podcasters, herewith Margaret Dulaney answers my question, How did you get started with "Listen Well"?

It all began with a love of a good transcendent story. I can read a hundred “how to” books on how to be happy, how to mourn, how to lift myself out of despair, and still remain the same old stagnant, lead-headed me. But, give me one true story… tell me a sad, funny, tragic, but ultimately uplifting story, and I walk away enlightened, literally shining with a little more light. 
At some point about ten years ago, having written plays for many years, I picked up the pen to tell my own stories. I hoped they would help lift a few people.
The tricky moment came when I lifted my head above the page to wonder where these stories might land.

One day I was staring out into my back yard in Bucks County Pennsylvania. My eyes were trained on the old barn that my husband, record producer, Matt Balitsaris, had converted fifteen years earlier into his recording studio, Maggie’s Farm. I was halfway through my stare when suddenly I had a sort of waahhh moment. “Hey, what if I really told my stories?” I brightened, “Spoke them myself? Mmm,” I remember thinking, “it could be like being read to at bedtime, delicious.” 
That was the beginning of Listen Well, a website offering spoken word stories of the transcendent, thought-provoking variety. Once a month, Listen Well posts a ten-minute spoken piece of writing that explores the possibility of the great presence of spirit behind our daily lives, a story of transcendence.

It’s a newish idea. I call it a “Blab.” 
I launched the site in February of 2010, and it is possible to listen to pieces from those early months on the archive page. 
Each piece is about ten or fifteen minutes long and I would say that each posting typically requires about one month of preparation. I begin with an idea, grab a pencil, eventually move to my computer, edit furiously, send it off to my editor to be further edited, employ many of her good ideas, and then wait for my husband to have the time to record me in his studio.
Although I try and read the piece many times in order not to make mistakes, I end up making plenty of mistakes, which Matt very kindly fixes for me. Once the piece is nice and tidy, Matt puts a little music around it and hands it to me on a disc. I then upload it and post it on the site.
I love this form of communication, and hope to continue posting these monthly offerings for years. I adore hearing from individual listeners, but prefer to do so one on one and not to have an open forum. This way our communication can be comfortable and unintimidating.

I have advertised a bit to bring listeners to my site. This has been helpful, and I am grateful for every subscriber. I do promise my subscribers that they will only hear from me once a month, as this rhythm seems the most comfortable for me, and I assume it will be the same for my listeners.
-- Margaret Dulaney

>>Margaret Dulaney's previous guest-blog post for Madam Mayo, "5 Reasons to Trust the Muse"
>>Archive of all Madam Mayo's guest-blog posts
>>Q & A with "Heron & Crane" Podcaster Chris Gondek
>>Q & A with "Literary Disco" Podcaster Tod Goldman
>>Q & A with Rice Freeman-Zachery on Creative Podcasting
>>Five FAQ on Podcasting
>>My podcasts!

P.S. Re: advertising. I've spotted the ad for "Listen Well" in the New Yorker. I myself have advertised my "Marfa Mondays" podcast series in Cenizo Journal, an elegantly made and wonderfully readable free magazine distributed throughout the Big Bend region of far West Texas (and that includes Marfa). Advertising is not necessarily that expensive (my business card-sized ad in Cenizo Journal came to about the price of a small pizza party).  As I tell my writer friends who get all squirmy about "self promotion," it's not self-promotion, it's book promotion. In this case, podcast promotion. I explore the ins and outs of podcast promotion in my forthcoming interactive ebook, Podcasting for Writers & Other Creative Entrepreneurs. Want to be notified when that's available? Subscribe to this blog or, better yet, sign up for my free newsletter. It goes out only 4 - 6 times a year.