Emerging Form: A Podcast

Emerging Form is a podcast about creative process.

It’s a conversation between friends — science writer Christie Aschwanden and poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer — in which we discuss the joys, agonies and black holes of creative endeavors. The idea began in Rosemerry’s kitchen when she acted out good muse/bad muse on Christie’s shoulders, trying to motivate Christie to finish her book manuscriptThe friends knew they were not alone in their creative struggles and triumphs, so with Christie’s penchant for the practical and Rosemerry’s leaning toward existential curiosity, the two hosts discuss issues and questions that plague creative people. Each half-hour episode is either an interview or a conversation between the hosts, tackling questions such as: How can I get useful feedback? How do I revive an abandoned project? Can hard work overcome mediocre talent? How do I tell personal stories involving conflict? How do I build a creative habit? How does play fuel creativity?

Why Emerging Form? Once upon a time, there was a group of poets who would gather for wild slumber parties. One of them, a cantankerous genius named Jack Mueller, would use a black Sharpie to write witticisms on blank 3×5 cards. One night, he wrote in all caps, OBEY THE POEM’S EMERGING FORM. He then proceeded to shout the epigram for the rest of the night, permanently tattooing the phrase on Rosemerry, who has shared it at poetry readings and workshops ever since. The wisdom of Jack’s instruction struck Christie, too, and she and Rosemerry began a long-lasting conversation about emerging form—not just in poetry, but in wine, in art, in cooking, in sports training and even in friendship. Obey the emerging form has become our mantra.

Our first episode came out in February, 2019. Our guests have included poets Alison Luterman, Rafael Jesús Gonzàlez, Danusha Laméris and James Crews; non-fiction writers Pam Houston, Sarah Knight, Amy Irvine and Cheryl Strayed; fiction writer Peter Heller; podcasters Catherine Saint Louis and Arielle Duhaime-Ross; science writers Susan J. Tweit, Rachel Feltman and Dr. Emily Willingham, plus interviews with humorists, circus performers, aerialists, artists and wine makers.

In the fall of 2021, Leah Shaw joined the team as audio engineer.

Click any of the podcast titles below to be taken to the Emerging Form website where you can listen. Subscribe to the newsletter and bonus episode feed here or use this link for our podcast feed. Pease join in the discussion of creative process on our Facebook page!

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  • Episode 116 Bonus: Paolo Bacigalupi on Why Creative Friends are Essential July 18, 2024
    “Success, you can’t guarantee,” says bestselling speculative fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi. “But you can write groundbreaking, new, different.” In this bonus episode, he shares with us why peers are the most essential creative resource you have, how our ideas of success change the more successful we become, and how writers block is usually made of […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 116: Paolo Bacigalupi on Beating Burnout July 11, 2024
    “I had built up a lot of don’ts in my head about writing,” says bestselling author Paolo Bacigalupi. In this episode, we speak with the speculative fiction novelist about how he went from wondering if he would ever write again to publishing his new book, NAVOLA. We cover daily habits, discipline, pleasure, and meeting the […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Reigniting the Creative Spark July 8, 2024
    Finding "creative relief" with bestselling sci-fi author Paolo Bacigalupi
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 115 Bonus: Nadia Colburn on the Gift of Failure and a Guided Writing Meditation July 4, 2024
    It’s all about the practice. In this bonus episode with poet, teacher and writing school founder Nadia Colburn, we talk about the gift of failure and her favorite writing prompts, plus Nadia leads us in a guided writing meditation. Writer, yogi, activist and teacher Nadia Colburn is author of two books of poetry,
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 115: Nadia Colburn on Yoga, Mindfulness and Writing June 27, 2024
    What is our relationship with our bodies? Our past? The planet? The rest of humanity? We speak with Nadia Colburn about how she weaves together a yoga practice, mindfulness, writing, and activism to explore these questions. “Our writing, our living, our experiencing is deeper when we can come from a bigger perspective and bring all […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Writing as Contemplative and Embodied Practice June 25, 2024
    We ask "What does it mean to be a person now?" with poet Nadia Colburn
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 114 Bonus: Katie Arnold on the Practice June 20, 2024
    It’s all about the practice. In this bonus episode with elite runner, author and Zen student Katie Arnold, we converse about how paying attention is a secret weapon, the mystery game she plays to get herself inspired to write, zen and the art of writing, and how music informs her practice.
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 114: Katie Arnold on Zen and Writing and Running June 13, 2024
    What if we dropped our expectations and preconceived ideas about our creative practice? In this episode, we speak with elite runner, author Katie Arnold about how her Zen practice of “coming to whatever you do in your life with a fresh and open mind” has influenced her creative work. We explore the story behind her […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • How to Follow the Story's Lead June 11, 2024
    Writing as a tool for discovery with runner and author Katie Arnold
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 113 Bonus: Lydia Millet on Having a Career Outside of Writing June 7, 2024
    Why is getting older great for writing? In this bonus episode, we speak with fiction writer, editor and memoirist Lydia Millet about why she prefers to have a career outside of writing, dancing wildly, the importance of taking it slow, and much more.
    Christie Aschwanden