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 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
  • Episode 113: Lydia Millet on Writing About "the Overwhelm of the World" May 30, 2024
    When fiction writer Lydia Millet found herself “preoccupied by the overwhelm of the world,” she turned to writing nonfiction. “I thought if i tried to write about it I might think more lucidly about it.” We speak with her about her newest book, We Loved It All
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Writing to Find Perspective May 29, 2024
    Lydia Millet on the differences between fiction and nonfiction and moments of insight
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 112 Bonus: Courtney E. Martin on the Value of Sabbaticals May 23, 2024
    In this bonus episode, we continue our conversation with journalist, author, podcaster and speaker Courtney E. Martin about the gap between how we think creating is supposed to feel vs. how it actually feels. We speak, too, about her sabbatical—why she felt it was essential and how it actually turned out—and the value of reading […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 112: Courtney E. Martin on the Tragic Gap May 16, 2024
    “Invest always in relationships before you need them, be vulnerable with them,” says Courtney E. Martin, journalist, author, podcaster and speaker. In this episode, she shares with us an essential question for all journalists and creatives and discusses how it shaped a specific project, plus she offers advice for living a creative life based on […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Advice for the Creative Life May 13, 2024
    Courtney E. Martin on Creating into "The Tragic Gap"
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 111: Goodnight Moonshine on Being Open to Unexpected Twists May 9, 2024
    How do you find an ending for a song? We talk with Eben Pariser and Molly Venter of Goodnight Moonshine about being open to an unexpected twist. We also talk about how to let your creativity be informHow do you find an ending for a song? We talk with Eben Pariser and Molly Venter of […]
    Christie Aschwanden