A thing I love when other creators do, but struggle to do myself, is what I call ‘showing the work.’ Making visible the kind of things that are often invisible – how something happened, why a decision was made, etc. It shows a less polished version of things (or, at least, how the rough edges became smooth ones). I think of this as being closely related to ‘iterating publicly’ – letting something change and grow in a way that other people can see. I love when someone says, “I made this thing and I thought it was going to be x and it turned out to be y” or “this didn’t work so I’m trying something new” or “this thing that was on-going now feels complete.” For me, that visibility creates a real sense of authenticity and connection.
In practice, it’s very vulnerable to tell people about your imperfect project! I want everyone to believe that all my ideas come out perfect on the first try, even if I know that’s not how life and creativity work.
But if you’re here, I bet it’s because you’ve been a fan of Casually Obsessed and I want to share with you a bit about how the podcast came to be and the new form it will be taking.
I released the trailer for the C.O. podcast at the end of March 2020, but the earliest conversation and work around it started in October or November of 2019. I knew from pretty early on that I wanted to have long-form conversations so there was an opportunity to really dig deep into topics. I wanted the friendly guidance of Pop Culture Happy Hour with the perfect idiosyncratic specificity of Thirst Aid Kit. I wanted to get beyond the surface readings and dig at why my guest and I really, really could not stop thinking about a thing.
I released the most recent episode in April 2021- so just over a year after the trailer. In that time, I put out twelve full-length episodes. It’s nearly 16 hours of content, which means I’ve spent at least 150 hours working on this show between research, recording, editing, and general admin. I took long breaks between each set of episodes to recover and try to get ahead on the next set.
I spent a lot of time brainstorming on other ways to make the show – what if it was monthly? what if it was weekly but the episodes were short? a live show? fewer episodes but also a blog? – but I never hit on something that felt both like a more manageable workload and like the show I wanted to make. I wanted two-hour episodes with link filled show notes and complete transcripts and Instagram graphics and and and. I just couldn’t support all that wanting alongside the many other things I want to do.
It did become less work overtime – as I got more comfortable with editing, learned more recording tricks, and got a little less obsessive in my trimming. There are also lots of ways it could have become even less work – if I recorded shorter episodes; if I paid to outsource things; if I shifted my standards/expectations – but the truth is that I didn’t want to make it less work. Or at least, I had a final product in mind and I wasn’t really willing to deviate from that (or sink a ton of money into it). It wanted it to be a shorter process without anything having to be different.
For all these reasons, I decided back in April to put the show on indefinite hiatus. What I told myself at the time was: If I want to make more I can but I don’t have to and, in the meantime, I’m no longer requiring myself to think about the show or what to do about it.
So I’ve spent the last few months working on other projects and the Casually Obsessed podcast has continued to exist but I haven’t been frantically thinking about it.
As it turns out, stepping away created space for me to think about Casually Obsessed differently.
I miss having a dedicated outlet for digging into pop culture; I haven’t stopped having casual obsessions just because I’ve stopped making the show. There must be another way to do some of the same things I wanted to do with a podcast, right?
Which is how I started thinking about creating a Casually Obsessed newsletter. A space for pop cultural conversation, without the production work of a podcast. An opportunity to make recommendations and dig deep.
So, it’s happening. Casually Obsessed is getting a newsletter!
Essays will be out weekly, each one about a different piece of media (and a particular element of it that I can’t stop thinking about).
I’m crafting the letters to be both an entry point for new people (so you never have to wonder if you should read about something you haven’t read/watched/listened to yet) and a new lens for old fans (so it won’t feel like reading vague jacket copy if you’re already familiar with the letter’s subject).
They’ll be around the same length as this blog post is – substantive, but hopefully not something you feel like you have to save for a long sit down.
If you liked the Casually Obsessed podcast, I think you’re really going to dig the newsletter.
The first Casually Obsessed newsletter will be going out on Monday, August 2nd. Subscribe to get it delivered to your inbox!
Get the Casually Obsessed Newsletter