What’s Next?

Thought Catalog 

The funny thing about having a baby is that people always ask you when you’re going to have your next baby. As soon as you’ve got your tiny little one in your arms, the world wants to know when you are getting pregnant again. But the more that question has been asked, the more I have felt certain that what’s next for me is definitely not another baby. I will never say never (at least not right now), but having Benjamin has really focused my attention on everything else that I want to achieve and do in my life. It’s like my creative side has gone into overdrive now that my body isn’t focused on, you know, creating actual human life. I feel more focused now I have little snippets of time rather than whole days stretching out in front of me, and with maternity leave giving me plenty of time to think I’m already planning what’s next… 

A Blog Rebrand & Redesign 

As I said when I took on this blogging challenge, I want to take my blog more seriously. It has been my constant companion for many years but has often been quite neglected. Not only that, but things are clearly taking a different direction around here, with parenting posts sneaking in amongst the food and lifestyle stuff – so I think it’s time for a bit of a rebrand. Whether I keep the name the same or go for something different, I’m definitely going to give things a lick of paint with a redesign. I have realised that I am not a minimalist when it comes to colour, and I don’t like the monochrome look so I want to brighten things up. I’m considering a move to Squarespace to make things look pretty, but that’s a bit scary because I’ve been committed to WordPress for so very long. We’ll see. Either way, I want to up my game on the blog front – starting with a shiny new look. I’ve started researching designers and branding people who could maybe give me a hand, so if you’ve got any recommendations then please send them my way! 

A Podcast 

I stumbled across an idea for a podcast last month and it’s been percolating ever since. I am scared to contact people and line up interviews and actually make it happen, but unless I do it will never get done and will be yet another project that I have let fall by the wayside. But, as Amy Poehler says, the talking about the thing is not the thing. The doing the thing is the thing. And so I must do the thing. I’m planning to hit up a few podcasting friends to get some advice on how to start and then start contacting people in the coming month. In my dreams I can have a season’s worth of episodes ready to go to launch at the beginning of January, so let’s see if I can hit that goal, shall we? 

#NaNoWriMo 

In the more immediate future, I have decided that this will be the year that I attempt #NaNoWriMo. I have talked about it for so many years but never taken the plunge. I am not confident of my novel idea, but I’m hoping that getting into the practice of writing fiction every day will help the plot and characters come together. And if they don’t? It’s no big deal. I’ll have given it a shot. This blogging challenge has got me into the habit of writing every day and I only have to write 1,667 words per day to end up with 50,000 in the end. Even if it’s 50,000 rubbish words, that’s still an impressive achievement and might kickstart that novel writing career that I’ve always dreamed of… 

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4 New Podcast Obsessions

headphones

[Photo by William Iven]

Not to sound hipster about it, but I’ve been listening to podcasts for years. A friend shared the Savage Love podcast with me about six years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s the perfect way for me to consume content; I’ve always been quite a good aural learner and I like being able to go about my day at the same time as listening, which you can’t really do with blogs or video. I’ve also never been much of a music fan. People find that strange, but whilst I like certain bands and songs, and will happily dance my socks off on a night out, I don’t really listen to music for fun. So podcasts are my sweet spot. And I’m really happy that the world at large has cottoned on to them, because it means there’s been an explosion of new podcasts coming in to my life in the past few months. I literally cannot keep up with the amount of content contained in my phone – so it’s just as well that I’m training for a 10k so need to be going on more, longer runs – the perfect podcast listening time! Some of these have been running a lot longer than that, but with more podcasts comes more podcast recommendations so I’ve been discovering some gems that I’d love to share with you! 

All Killa No Filla 

I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with serial killers. I just find them fascinating. They’re so far removed from my experience and I just want to know *why*. I think we all do, right? It’s morbid, but we can’t help it. All Killa No Filla makes me believe that it’s not just me with this slightly macabre interest. Rachel Fairburn & Kiri Pritchard-McLean dig deep into the lives and crimes of notorious serials killers from Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy to Jack the Ripper and The Zodiac Killer. This podcast is darkly funny (very darkly funny) and will make the world of serial killers seem even weirder and more eccentric than you ever imagined. Seriously addictive stuff. 

Witch, Please 

If there was ever a podcast made for me, it is this one. Two lady scholars discussing Harry Potter, literary criticism, feminism and all things Hogwarts? I am so down for it. I’ve been making my way through the back catalogue over the past few weeks and every time I think I can’t love it more, these awesome ladies bring out something better. Let it be known, this is not dry and boring academic stuff – it’s funny, touching and air-punchingly righteous. It makes me love Harry Potter even more than ever, and almost persuades me that academia is the life for me (does the world need more Harry Potter PhD students? I volunteer as tribute!). Plus, I need to hang out with the hosts at least once before I die – this is my new life goal. 

Unscrewed 

This is another very Amy-specific podcast recommendation, but chances are if you read this blog then you might have a few of the same interests as me. I’m not talking baking, knitting and my other Pinterest-friendly pursuits. I’m talking sex positive feminist theory. Oh, yes. One of my truest loves. Kick-ass lady boss Jaclyn Friedman hosts the Unscrewed podcast, the show which ‘knows that real liberation includes sexual liberation’. I listened to the episode on ‘Feminists with Rape Fantasies’ on Sunday, with Tristan Taormino as a guest star, and almost burst into applause at the end. These are the conversations about sexuality and feminism we need (and I want) to be having. 

Slate’s Dear Prudence 

Mallory Ortberg is one of my favourite people on the Internet – her sense of humour ticks all of my boxes and if you are a fan of The Hairpin or The Toast, you’ll probably feel the same. If you’re not following her on Twitter, you’re missing a trick. I am also incredibly partial to an advice column-based podcast and this is a great one. Mallory and her guests mix whimsy and humour with straight-talking, generous advice, which is basically a winning formula in my book. The problems range from the slightly ridiculous to the heart-breaking, and I enjoy the variety – it’s a little lighter than Dear Sugar but has the same kind-hearted feel to it. You’ll be hooked, I promise. 

P.S. Discover my favourite podcasts circa 2014, 5 bookish podcasts and 11 more podcasts you should be listening to. You’re welcome! 

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11 More Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

podcasts

I listen to podcasts constantly. When I’m cooking, when I’m running, when I’m driving, when I’m putting on make-up. There’s a podcast for every occasion; they can be funny or educational or entertaining or a mixture of all of those things. I thought I’d shared my favourites with you on numerous occasions, but since I first posted about podcasts back in 2014 and again about book-ish podcasts earlier this year I’ve discovered so many new ones so I thought I’d give you a little update on what I’m listening to right now. I’m always looking for new ones to follow, so do leave your suggestions for me, too! 

Call Your Girlfriend

I want to be best friends with Amina and Anne, the hosts of this podcast. These two long-distance besties talk about everything from pop culture and periods to politics, and I could listen to them chat for hours (and have done, on occasion!). They describe themselves as ‘highbrow and lowbrow, unapologetically feminist, and not afraid to realtalk each other about everything from menstrual cycles to workplace dramas’. Listening to Amina break down the Kanye/Wiz Khalifa situation is one of the highlights of my life so far. Every other week they interview another awesome lady about her life and work, and they’ve all been fascinating. If you’re a feminist on the Internet, you’re gonna wanna check this out. 

Stuff Mom Never Told You

Each episode, Cristen and Caroline tackle a different subject from a feminist angle. The topics are wide-ranging (some of my favourites are on cults, Taylor Swift, knitting and The Gilmore Girls) and there’s almost nothing they haven’t covered in their years of podcasting. These episodes are definitely more on the educational side, and are really well researched with lots of sources if that’s your bag (it is mine), but Cristen and Caroline are charming hosts so it’s never dry. Obviously I’m a feminist geek, so Stuff Mom Never Told You is totally my jam. 

The No BS Guide to Life 

Need some real talk, no-nonsense advice from two sassy ladies? This is the place to come. Bangs and a Bun and Lemara will give it to you straight. No BS, just like the title. This podcast is focused on life advice, but it’s also a chance for Bangs and Lemara to share their own anecdotes and problems, so it’s definitely not preachy! I particularly enjoyed their episode on friendship.

Ctrl Alt Delete

This is maybe cheating a bit, as I’ve only heard the trailer but Emma Gannon’s new podcast is going to be focused on interviewing inspiring women, with a particular focus on how the Internet and social media has influenced their stories. The first episode is an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, so you know that shiz is gonna be good. 

Women of the Hour 

I’m a big fan of Lena Dunham’s other projects, so there’s no surprise that I’m a little bit obsessed with her podcast. Each episode has a broader theme like work or friendship, but there is so much scope for exploring these topics and Lena brings in some excellent guests to help her navigate and unpack some pretty big issues. I’ve cried more than once listening to this podcast, which is warm, friendly and honest. It’s exactly the kind of conversations I would like to have with everyone in my life. My favourite section, however, is when Lena tells the story of a forgotten woman from history – trailblazers who have lived incredible lives and that I’ve never even heard about. The word inspirational is bandied about quite liberally, but this podcast truly has inspired me. 

The Becoming Podcast 

Another newbie on the block, Laura Jane Williams is sitting down with some incredible women and finding out how exactly they became who they are. It’s all in the lead up to her book, Becoming, which is out later this year and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I listened to the first episode of this podcast yesterday – an interview with Daisy Buchanan who Laura describes, quite accurately I think, as the ‘big sister of the Internet’. It was exactly what I wanted and needed to hear – two smart women discussing body image in a way that had me nodding my head at every other sentence. I’m excited to see (hear?) what else is to come on this one. 

Here’s the Thing 

If you don’t want to listen to Alec Baldwin telling you stories, then I don’t think we can be friends. He just has the best voice, but he’s also a really good interviewer and has access to some brilliant guests. I love his interview with Lena Dunham, Lorne Michaels and the makers of Making a Murderer. There are lots of SNL-ers in the back catalogues and some pretty famous names, too. 

Anna Faris is Unqualified 

In this podcast Anna Faris invites other lovely celebrities to come on and be interviewed, and to help give advice to listeners. She may be unqualified to give relationship advice, but she’s also completely adorable and so lovely to the people that call in. This podcast is funny, light-hearted and witty, and has some great guests, including Lisa Kudrow, Aubrey Plaza and Ellen Page. 

Beaks and Geeks 

A book-ish podcast that I discovered after I wrote my last list. This podcast is run by Penguin Random House, hence the ‘beaks’ (!), and bills itself as candid conversations with authors, which in my experience is pretty accurate. The interviews range in length, and I tend to only tune into the authors that I’m already interested in (Margaret Atwood, in particular, was excellent, as was Emily St. John Mandel) but if you’re into literary things then this is definitely one for you! 

Lore 

This one is for the geeks amongst us! Lore explores the frightening history behind common folklore, from werewolves and vampires to more specific spooky tales. As they say, sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction, but also more interesting and I love finding out the human stories behind what we believe to be supernatural. Each episode is quite short, and there are some really unusual topics, too. 

Dear Sugar Radio 

Most of you are probably familiar with Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, and here she and co-host Steven Almond give ‘radically empathic’ advice in an agony-aunt style podcast that will tug at your heart strings. It’s almost the polar opposite of Savage Love, who I also love and would recommend highly. I think we all have a bit of a fascination with advice columns (or is that just me?) and this one is a good’un. 

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