Personal story

Reflections on starting a podcast

Over the last month I have started a new venture, my podcast, The Burning Archive. I have posted links to my episodes here on the blog, and you can listen on all the main platforms – Apple, Spotify, Google etc.

I have some brief reflections on the process, and the meaning of the podcast for the directions of my blog and my writing.

Boost to focus. First, it has consumed a lot of my creative focus over the last weeks, and the blog has suffered a little as a result. But on the whole it has been energising, and I find I am writing and reflecting more. I am taking back more of my evenings and other time holes to think about the themes of the podcast and work on the scripting, editing and production of the podcast. So while there has been a temporary disturbance to my other writing projects, I will soon settle on a new and higher equilibrium.

Return to the muse, Clio. I have found the podcast has brought me back to a fluent and authentic service to the muse of history. While history has always been an important theme of this blog, I have written from the position of an outcast historian. I never was accepted into the professional community of historians, but I have found in doing the podcast that I never really abandoned the practice of history, and my voice as an historian has come surging back.

Integration with reading and reflection. The blog gave me an outlet to express my thoughts on much of what I read and reflected on. But the podcast deepens the connection to that reading, because it is openly an improvised interpretation of the large historical patterns that are playing out in our time. Now I borrow and buy books less from random curiosity – although there will always be a bit of that – and more as part of my mission to be an amateur Cassandra of our times.

Voice in public domain. Writing this blog in my own name from 2015 was a leap forward in speaking in my own voice and sharing it with the world. But being one of a billion blogs is still kind of invisible. The podcast allows me to hearing my own voice played on Spotify, and share my thoughts with friends and strangers. I do not expect to grow a large audience, and have small aims – do five podcasts, then twelve, and then see how I go. But already I feel doing the podcast is breaking my old fear of promotion and making my voice echo in the public domain.

So, let’s all say three cheers for podcasting – part of the renaissance of the second culture – and a boon for my writing life.

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