I have a bad habit of overcommitting myself. No…wait…that’s not quite right. I have a bad habit of committing myself and then mismanaging my time. It’s a character flaw, and one that I’m working to correct. However…one of the inevitable consequences of my time mismanagement is that, sooner or later, I begin to feel as though I am being pecked to death by ducks. Everything piles up, and all I want to do it run and hide until it goes away.
I know what I should do: bear down, shoulder to the grindstone, nose to the wheel…or something like that. Still, when it all feels like the Myth of Sisyphus, I want to slink off to the local Barnes & Noble, buy a coffee, and read graphic novels.
I was starting to feel this way in February of this year. There was work to do on Podiobooks, I had my own solo podcast that was dreadfully late. I was helping Mick Bradley with his two podcasts, and was starting yet another with a friend. All of the activity had shifted from a series of welcome challenges to a collection of large, stinking seabirds hanging around my neck.
I was venting about all of this to a friend, and his question was, “Why don’t you just quit the podcasts?”
I thought about that. I could, of course. Let’s face it, few of us are getting paid to do this. It’s a colossal time-suck at times. It’s endless fiddling with settings, levels, microphones, mixing boards, all to get rid of that low-level hiss that never seems to go away. It’s the late nights, knowing you should be in bed, but you’re just not able to rest until you get the thrice-damned thing edited and posted. Damnable though it may be at 3:30 am, it’s also the coolest thing you’ve recorded to date, and you just can’t wait for people to hear it.
That’s the core of it, isn’t it? The listeners. I remember when I got the first bit of feedback about my podcast. First off, I was stunned that anyone was listening. Secondly, I was thrilled that this individual, a podcaster whom I respected, mentioned me in his show. The clincher was these words, “I’ve been listening to Chris Miller’s Unquiet Desperation. I like it. He’s got some worthwhile things to say.”
Do you recall how you felt when you were told by a fellow podcaster or a listener that they really liked your show, that it meant something to them? Inside your head, weren’t you doing your own personal Sally Field imitation? (You like me! You really like me!)
It’s like a drug, this appreciation thing, and a little goes a long way. As we continue to put out episodes, we all try to hone our craft, shape our message. We try to be a bit more profession, or we try to spice it up, keep it fresh, but still keep our audience. In some arenas, we compete with other podcasts. But at the end of the day, know that people out there like your work it enough to keep a lot of us going.
It is for me, at least. None of the podcasts that I’m on have more than two hundred listeners. I’m fine with that. I’m not the most recognizable name attached to Podiobooks.com, and I’m fine with that, too. What keeps me going is that, at this time in history, any one of us can pick up a microphone, grab a copy of Audacity, and find those like-minded folk that we would never had a chance to reach otherwise. We get meet other podcasters who have the same struggles that we do, the same self-doubting natures, the same need to speak and be heard. It’s massive, it’s global, and it’s just about the coolest thing I have ever witnessed
So, now I sit and work through my endless piles with GTD. I have my lists and my inbox, my folders and my files. I run like a not-quite finely tuned machine because this has become more than a hobby…it’s a connection to something larger than myself. To give up friends that I’ve made doing this is unthinkable. It’s worth the long hours, the days of prep, the answering of listener questions and subscriber feedback. It’s even worth the occassional argument on the email list. We’re doing something revolutionary here…never doubt it. One day, we’ll look back on all of this: we’ll see how media was changed by a bunch of “amateurs” with laptops and and a couple of microphones. We can say that we were there.
If that’s not worth it, I don’t know what is.