Fangirl Fav: The Black Tapes Podcast

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tbtI know it’s been awhile since I posted, so to get my creative mojo flowing, I thought I would resurrect and slightly revise a post from one of my past (now deleted) blogs. Over the past couple of years, I have become a huge fan of podcasts. I listen to all different kinds, but it seems like I tend to favor personal growth podcasts and audio dramas. So, it’s no surprise that my very favorite podcast is The Black Tapes.  

Once I realized the power of podcasts in making my shitty work commute less shitty, I started listening to them on the daily. I wanted to add some fiction podcasts to my list, because hello – writer! That’s when I stumbled upon The Black Tapes.

Here’s the official blurb from the podcast’s website:

The Black Tapes is a bi-weekly podcast from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.

How do you feel about paranormal activity or the Supernatural? Ghosts? Spirits? Demons?

Do you believe?

I’m a total nerd for anything paranormal, which is why The Black Tapes originally caught my eye. I wasn’t exactly swept away by the first episode, but by episode three, I was completely hooked. Two 12-episode seasons have been aired so far, and SADLY – SO SADLY – the third and final season (which I hear is only 6 episodes) will begin on August 30th.

I’ll admit that the delay in production and distribution of season three, as well as the announcement of the podcast ending (on a shorter season no less), was a HUGE disappointment. I heard murmurings (through Reddit) of some behind the scenes drama between the creators, but I’m not going to put too much stock into that. I suppose, at the end of the day, I’m just grateful that we are receiving an end to such a wonderful and addictive story.  

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t delve too deeply into plot details or my own thoughts/theories, but I’ll just post a few reasons why I love The Black Tapes:

  • Dr. Richard Strand. He is the “enigmatic subject” mentioned in the podcast blurb. First and foremost, allow me to fangirl for a moment and just swoon over the voice actor for this character. Hot dayum he has the sexiest voice I’ve ever heard. Audio objectification aside, his character really is intriguing and insanely intelligent. And a bit sassy. Have I already swooned?!
  • Blurring the lines. Again with me being a nerd, but I kind of love that the creators, actors, etc. of The Black Tapes refuse to acknowledge it as fictional. The organizations and institutes they refer to on the podcast each have a website, and many of the characters have social media accounts. It’s just an added layer of dedication and production that I–a fellow creative–appreciate.
  • Alex Reagan. She’s the main character. I love her. She’s smart, kind, intelligent, and not a pushover. She probably falls into the category of “no self-preservation whatsoever,” but that’s what makes The Black Tapes so fun. Plus, she has mad chemistry with Dr. Strand. I so ship it 😉
  • Ensemble cast. Actually, I really enjoy most of the characters on this podcast. Even the throwaways are usually well acted and unique. This really is a world in which you can get lost (because death to commuting!!!).
  • Creativity like woah. I haven’t googled or looked into any of the information broadcasted on the podcast, like the “evidence” and “research” that’s disclosed to listeners, so I’m not sure how much of it–if any–is based off of history or legit sources, but whether it is or isn’t doesn’t matter. I’m just blown away by the dedication of all parties involved in the podcast and the layers of creativity that make up this show.

Although I’m so very sad to see The Black Tapes end in the near future, I’m super excited to see how the rest of the story unfolds. I really hope the conclusion is satisfying and we get some Streagan romance thrown in for good measure.

P.S. If you like The Black Tapes, check out the two other podcasts by one of the creators of The Black Tapes: Tanis and Rabbits. Tanis sucked me in immediately, but I’ve sort of lost a bit of interest in it recently. However, relistening to The Black Tapes makes me want to get caught up. Same deal with Rabbits. I think it’s the “weakest” of the stories from the trio, but it was interesting enough for me to listen to most of season one. The Black Tapes is the best of the group, by far. Well, in my humble opinion 😉

Perfectionism: Every Writer’s Archenemy

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chalkboardI’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 12-years-old, and at this point, it’s a bit of an understatement to say that I have many, many story ideas. Some are novels and some are screenplays. The genres are varied – general fiction, young adult supernatural, comedy, drama, romance, young adult fantasy. Over the years, I’ve started to write at least half a dozen of these stories, but I’ve only ever completed a thriller novel and two screenplays (one drama, one comedy), all three of which were co-written with my writing partner. I always thought that accountability was the biggest block to actually finishing (and pitching!) my own books, but I’ve come to realize that the real problem–and my true archenemy–is perfectionism.

This isn’t a light-bulb revelation for me. Perfectionism is something that I’ve always struggled with in numerous facets of my life. But woo boy, it’s most definitely held me back the most when it comes to writing. To me, writing is like visiting another plane of existence. When I am in my creative zone, everything is so much more vivid. Time is fluid and meaningless. The only thing that matters is a steady flow of words that breathe life and soul into my characters and plot. The day that I finished writing the aforementioned thriller novel, I wrote the final six chapters in an uninterrupted 8-hour stretch. It actually kind of scared me, that the day got away from me so easily, but man was I pumped and feeling so accomplished afterwards.

Writers battling perfectionism is nothing new. I’ve read many articles on it. I’ve chatted with fellow writers about it. I’ve bemoaned it in my own journal more times than I can count. So, how does one overcome perfectionism in writing? I think the strategy depends on the writer. Some people may join a writing group or class to hold them accountable and provide daily support and encouragement. Others may embark on some sort of writing challenge. For me, there are a few things that come to mind so that I can conquer this annoying writing block once and for all:

  • Trust: I’m a new age woo woo type of spiritual person. I believe in the Universe as a divine source, I love soul searching, and I’m constantly trying to connect to my higher self for wisdom and guidance. So, all of that being said, I need to actually trust that these story ideas have come to me for a reason, and that reason is that I am meant to write them. And, ya know, finish them.
  • Focus and commit: I constantly lose momentum in whichever writing project I’m currently working on and then switch to a different project. I tell myself it’s because I’m just not aligned with that story at that moment, so I should move on to something else that excites me more. Besides, that way I’m at least writing, right? Wrong. I need to actually focus and commit to ONE story idea, start to finish. A few blog posts ago, I wrote about a new story idea that I had, and I went a good six weeks with writing on it daily. Then I started to harshly judge everything I was writing as complete and total shit (hello, perfectionism!), which of course made me lose motivation. So I switched to a young adult story I started (and never finished) years ago. And the same thing happened all over again – I was gung ho writing daily on it for a few weeks, then started to hate what I was producing, and now I don’t want to work on that story any more. So, I now commit to focus on my newest novel idea, Destination Happiness, and pour everything I have into it.
  • Just write already: Like, for real, Pam. Just write already. Stop making up excuses. Yes, it is super challenging to find the time and energy to write when I have a high stress and all-consuming day job. That is my reality. BUT, I can get back into the habit of reserving my Saturday or Sunday for writing. In fact, I can look forward to that date with my imagination, because I know that once I actually sit down and surrender to story, I feel good. It makes me happy.

Writing is the thing that lights me up. It’s part of who I am. So no more allowing perfectionism to take my muse hostage. I have tons of story ideas–fun, relatable story ideas–that I want to share with others. So I will write, and I will write often. I will finish my latest book. And if that book is then pitched and published and results in loads of cash and my gleeful escape from the harrowing 9-to-5 grind, then all the better.

Take that, perfectionism.