This has been a long time coming, and I apologise for that. I wanted to take a moment out of our regularly scheduled programming – you know, the raw, honest blogging/state of constant confusion that is my writing process and attempts to find an agent and eventual publication – to host a state of the podcast address.
For those that aren’t aware, I host a geek critique story review podcast titled, ‘Sweet Story, Bro’. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only real show of its ilk. Breaking down stories into the elements I enjoyed as well as what didn’t resonate with me, with a primary focus on narrative choices by the wonderful authors and storytellers that crafted these tales in the first place, all in order to determine whether I found the story ‘Officially Too Sweet’ or ‘Just Not Sweet Enough.’
I loved doing the show. It was a perfect justification to dedicate time to all the stories I wanted to experience, whether reading, watching, or playing. Long time readers of Write Steve Write or ‘Sweet Story, Bro’ will be well aware that I feel inspiration can, and should, be sought from every medium. The idea of restricting yourself to only one narrative avenue is an antiquated idea that has no place when considering the depth we can now experience from different platforms, and the podcast’s story choices reflected this value.
The podcast was an outlet. It was a learning experience and an education. It forced me to engage with stories on a deeper level than I had ever thought of before, questioning why the creators made the decisions they made through copious amounts of research. It helped me to further my understanding of formatting and how important it is to be willing to listen to feedback and evolve. When scripting, it allowed me to address my feelings before getting in front of my loyal Blue Yeti microphone. When recording, I would stumble across a stream of consciousness that threaded together thoughts I wasn’t aware I had. It showed me how to be adaptable, but resolute in my personal ‘voice’. It helped me to grow and better myself as a podcaster and, as was always the point, in theory, as a writer…
And it is here that I found myself with a conundrum. Arriving at a figurative crossroads.
The initial time spent with the story, the extensive research, the in-depth scripting, the recording and the editing all began to take over. Rather than using my time, precious as we all know it to be, to write, I was dedicating all potential writing time to this solo, one man band of a podcast.
Now, if the podcast were a revenue source of any kind – people using the Amazon links, potentially donating or, in my wildest dreams, being Patreon supported – then this wouldn’t be an issue, as I’m sure any hardy podcaster would tell you. The big guys always make it look easy, after all. But as somebody who actively wants to write for a living, then this distribution of time was becoming problematic. Throw in some recent mental health revelations, and it becomes a heady concoction of divided commitments.
As a ‘hobby’, hell, as a method of research and learning, ‘Sweet Story, Bro’ had a perfect purpose, helping me to further understand the craft. And it did and does. But, at this point in time, I cannot justify taking anymore writing opportunities away from…well…writing.
I’m not going to lie, this was a really tough decision. I prided myself on the depth, research, and the fact that I always hit my release date. I believe that, apart from one pre-announced episode, I hit that bi-weekly Monday without fail. Every single time for over a year and change.
To be candid, the podcast never did the numbers I had hoped for. Perhaps it was simple naivety – a foolish, innocent belief that the podcast would find its audience and pick up momentum with every episode, that it would blow up and all of a sudden I would be faced with the ‘hard’ decision of delivering an episode every week before, well, whaddyaknow, it’s earning me some cash and now it’s an awesome job! The kind of job that isn’t work at all. The kind of job that ensures I’m never working another day in my life because I love it so much. I would be one-third of the way to what I consider my perfect life: Write. Fight. Talk.
I’m sure every podcaster secretly wishes for this, and who could begrudge them that?
In truth, despite an early rush of downloads, reviews and attention – even being featured on iTunes’ ‘New and Noteworthy’, as well as being listed quite high up in their top ranked podcasts at one point – the drip feed of streams and downloads were upsetting given the time, work and dedication.
But I wasn’t necessarily pursuing numbers. Success can be measured by a number of different metrics. Mine? Interaction.
In every episode, I asked listeners to get in contact with me to discuss what they thought of the story I had reviewed, to recommend something else for me to engage with, or even to *GASP* disagree or bring up counter points, perhaps helping me to look at things from a different perspective.
This didn’t really happen, and after a year I became dismayed. Disheartened. A ridiculous amount of listeners and downloads would be amazing, of course, but fans who would reach out, agreeing or challenging my thoughts, creating a debate, engaging with stories on a deeper level…well, that would be something else, eh?
This may sound like a eulogy. It’s not. What it is, is a long overdue explanation as to why the podcast just…stopped, and I’m sorry for that. Time commitments, life ambitions (where podcasting does factor), and mental health issues created a convoluted mess where a decision had to be made.
As it stands, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) review is the last episode that has been released, but it won’t be the last episode ever. I love this podcast and I love podcasting. I love the idea behind it and the lessons it provides me, but after much deliberation, discussion and thought, I have decided to officially go on hiatus from ‘Sweet Story, Bro’ in order to dedicate more time to pursuing my writing ambitions as I commit to working on my next novel.
This isn’t the end and it isn’t goodbye. This is see you later. So be sure to stay subscribed to the show via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or however you get your podcasts, because once this first draft of my next manuscript is done, I’ll be coming back to pick up where I left off.
Until then, keep checking back here to stay up to date with my writing journey – with ALL the ups and downs that entails – and, as always, my friends, life can be cruel, harsh and confusing, so take the time to enjoy yourself, to pump the brakes occasionally and allow yourself to truly enjoy the little things, guilt free. I implore you to go and enjoy some stories. Until next time, I’m out.
– Steve R / @stevetendo
Many thanks to those at #PodernFamily that helped people to find the show in the first place with their awesome community. Check the # on Twitter and find you’ll find a plethora of amazing people and podcasts to listen to.
Big time thanks as well to the fine gents at 365Flicks Podcast for championing this show when no one else would, and for their top notch geeky thoughts – when I get published, you’ll get that review copy!
To Peter Tieryas for showing me how a writer should respond to both positive and constructive thoughts on their work – check out United States of Japan, then check out my review of it! – and to everybody that gave my lil’ show a chance, reviewing it on iTunes and spreading the word on ‘Sweet Story, Bro’. Thank you all so much.
Stay subbed, look forward to Temporary, be excited for whatever this next novel turns into, and keep your eyes peeled for when episode #33 inevitably drops!