Nuance Store! Grand Opening!
Why have I been working as a writer all this time when I could have been selling mugs?
You know those moments when you look up from your life and realize, with breathtaking clarity, that it’s exactly the life you dreamed of when you set out on your journey? You know what it’s like to feel years of hard work and ambition suddenly coalesce into deep satisfaction, as if the vision board you put up in high school has vaporized into your own personal pixie gas?
Professionally speaking, I can think of three memorable examples of this feeling: getting published in The New Yorker for the first time, receiving a fan letter from someone I was a fan of, and walking into the same classroom where I was once a graduate student, this time as an instructor. These triumphs felt like more than just triumphs, they felt like rights of passage. They were reassurances that, for all the times I’ve doubted myself, I had taken the right path after all.
But none of these validations come close the profound sense of lifetime achievement I’ve felt over the last week. After more than two decades as an author, essayist, journalist, and overall literary citizen I now have a podcast and am selling merchandise. (Or “merch” as we say in the trade.)
How did I make the pivot from creative professional to creator? Back in January, in a blog post about my podcast, I joked that I was going to offer coffee mugs that said “Nuanced AF.” I really was kidding, but many people took me seriously and said they wanted one.
The show, you see, is all about nuance. It’s all about (and you can skip this sentence if you don’t want to hear this blah blah blah about the podcast itself) engaging with topics that have been rendered taboo because they’re not often granted their due complexity. I interview writers and philosophers and scientists and scholars and, of course, other podcasters. There are many podcasts in this vein now, but mine is the best — or at least has the best dog barking in the background.