Here is my in-depth conversation with podcaster, writer, and media critic SARAH MARSHALL.

Sarah currently has two popular podcasts. She is the host and co-creator (with former co-host Michael Hobbes) of the modern history podcast You’re Wrong About, and the co-host (with Alex Steed) of You Are Good, “a feelings podcast about movies.” Both shows are available on all the usual platforms.

You’re Wrong About has received several iHeart Radio Podcast Awards nominations, including for Female Host (2022), Pop Culture Podcast (2022), Overall Host (2023), and History Podcast (2024), and it won Best History Podcast in 2023 and Podcast of the Year in 2022

Time Magazine ranked You’re Wrong About #2 in its list of the 10 Best Podcasts (2019); The Guardian included it in a compilation of “the 20 best podcasts ever” (2023); and The New Yorker profiled the podcast in this 2020 article. The New York Times named You Are Good as one of “6 Podcasts to Make You Feel Good” (2022).

Sarah has written extensively in non-fiction about such topics as serial killers, the Satanic Panic, Anna Nicole Smith, the making of the movie Titanic, and the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan phenomenon.

When you're recording a podcast, do you feel like you, or a version of you, or something else?

I feel like a more purposeful version of me, I guess. It's kind of like playing a game of ping pong, where you just have to keep the ball moving back and forth – and in real life, I'm allowed to abandon that whenever I want. [laughs]

Do you feel like there are situations where you lose track of yourself when you’re recording? Or are you pretty much always in your body?

I don't know. There's a lot of possible answers to that, depending on how you define “the self”. I feel, often, very tired after I finish recording. It feels like the thing in Ghost, about how if a ghost inhabits a body, they get really wiped out by it right afterwards. Because having that degree of focus on what you're going to say or do next, and maintaining that for a couple of hours or more, isn't something that you typically do in day-to-day life. Hopefully. [laughs] 

It feels like inhabiting a part of yourself where the individual self does sometimes melt away a little bit, because you're also trying to stand in for whoever's listening, and you're going through this process of hearing your inner reactions and then thinking about what you're going to express about them, and why you're going to express it, and using what language – and all as things are progressing. 

In a weird way, I feel more myself when I'm doing it then any other time, because I'm so focused on what my reactions are.

That’s interesting – I was going to ask you about that. Because I notice, listening to your shows, that you often seem to be having real-time emotional responses to things, and I wonder about that – about what you choose to reveal, and whether you think that your listeners have an accurate picture of you, or an accurate concept of who you are, from what you choose to reveal.

If we're being honest, then we do reveal the truth about ourselves, but it's just a limited truth. Because there's the truth of what you can pick up from the way I talk about myself and my life, and then there's the truth that I am unconscious that I'm expressing. So doing work that has an audience means getting comfortable with knowing that there might be people who would know things about you well before you know them.

Hmm...are you talking about the “Seagulls” episode [of You’re Wrong About]? 

[laughs] Yeah, totally.

Feel free to elaborate or not...

Well, yeah, that's how I get people to listen to it! [laughs]

[Note: This is in reference to an episode called “Lesbian Seagulls”, in which Sarah and her guest Lulu Miller (Peabody award-winning science journalist, co-host of the award-winning WNYC Studios show Radiolab, and cofounder of the NPR podcast Invisibilia) explore the scientific study of queerness in the (non-human) animal world. If you check out the episode on YouTube, you’ll find what we’re specifically alluding to at 57:32 – but I recommend listening to the entire episode, because it is truly fascinating.]

When you're thinking about audio – and, obviously, the listener has limited exposure to what is being delivered because it's just through the ears – what is it about audio that appeals to you?

Well, I started off as a writer, and that's where my training really was. And the thing that makes writing and audio feel similar is that you're building an experience for somebody that can be a very ornate, very memorable, potentially life-changing experience, but that you're doing it entirely through words – either words that they're hearing or words that they're reading. 

The audience actually has to sign on to work with you and meet you halfway if they're going to have that kind of an experience, because they have to take the words they're reading or hearing and use their brain to turn them into something. 

Whereas, if you are making something like a film or a TV show – which obviously is technically beyond me, and that's the main reason why I don't do it – that’s something that someone can just experience in its entirety because you've done all the work for them. And I think that listeners, readers, audiences have a greater investment in ideas that they've had to work for a little bit.

They have to come toward it.

Right, yeah, they have to meet you in the middle somewhere.

What were some of your formative experiences with audio?

Well, my parents always had NPR on, to the point where they would keep it on even if it was playing something that they didn't like, like Performance Today. And, actually, the only NPR show my mom didn't like when I was growing up was This American Life because she couldn't stand Ira Glass – which I'm sure he hears all the time. [laughs] 

And, also, my dad was from New Zealand, so he would listen to Radio New Zealand on a loop when I was growing up and, really, throughout his life. 

Now there’s a lot more aids to loneliness than there used to be, but pre-2000 – pre-mass adoption of the Internet – radio was one of the places you would go to remind yourself that there are other people alive and existing, wherever you were, especially in the middle of the night. The “radio people” were always there for me. 

My parents didn't really watch the news, but they always listened to the news, and I absorbed audio as just a way that people learned things, in a way that worked best for me.

Do you experience the world aurally? Do you find yourself catching on sounds?

In some ways. I mean, I also can listen to the same song thousands of times and notice new parts of it after many years, because I just don't pick out individual instruments and I'm not musically savvy in that way. 

Actually, when I think about experiencing sound, I think about the sounds that foods make. [laughs]

Pleasantly or unpleasantly?

Well, pleasantly. I'm fan of it – you know, the famous Ratatouille thing, that you can tell the bread is good by the sound when you crinkle it. 

Maybe the way I see that more is that my favorite way to connect is through one-on-one conversation, and always has been. And I think that the conversation is one of our earliest forms of technology, in a way. [laughs]

Do you view conversation as an art form?

Yeah, I certainly think it can be, if you look at historical salons and the importance historically of forums for debate – not pretend debate but actual debate, which sometimes exists – and the idea that parliamentary government is based on conversation and debate, to some extent. 

I do believe that human beings coming together in good faith to try and pool their mental resources. If we wanted to get overly technical about it, we could come up with some kind of computer language to describe that, to make people more compelled by it. [laughs]

Do you view what you do in your podcasts as an art form? Are you making art?

Yes. I mean, I have a very broad definition of “art”. Not necessarily the moments when you've achieved what you set out intending to do, but the moments when you get led off the path, when you end up in a conversational cul-de-sac, or the moments when two people create more than the sum of their parts, are when the art form has been achieved.

Do you experience being in the zone?

Mmm hmm. Yeah.

How do you experience that?

Well, just in terms of not feeling any kind of desire to think about anything else, and that you're dimly conscious of time passing but it just doesn't seem important.

A lot of people also describe it as things becoming effortless.

Yeah. In both writing and talking, there are these moments that occur when the best parts, in my opinion, happen – when you've been thinking about what words to string together, and then suddenly you're given three sentences out of nowhere. And that's probably part of why people describe “divine inspiration” when they do their work, because you just can't describe where it came from.

Have you noticed conditions that make it more likely for you to be in the zone, or to get into the zone, or to stay in the zone? 

Yeah, I think that it's a state of disinhibition. And I wonder, actually, how similar it is to being hypnotized. Because hypnosis is also very real and, in my understanding, a state of profound disinhibition – where you are much more in touch with your thoughts, and have been allowed to cut out the mental noise of everything else. 

In terms of setting, [it’s] just being on my own or with people who I feel comfortable with. I think it comes from comfort. We're not supposed to realize that artists to do their best work when we're comfortable. [laughs]

Yes, relaxation is a lot of it...


...and preparation, which leads you to be comfortable, a lot of times. 

Mmm hmm.

What kinds of guests or cohosts do you tend to find make you more comfortable, so that that gets achieved? What are the attributes of that kind of person? 

Well, the thing that's most exciting is when I find someone who's excited to play that ping pong game, and to do that back and forth. When I have least to work with is when I bring someone on who has a lot to say, but if you try and get them “off-book”, they don't want to go “off-book” – which is fair, because not everyone loves that. [laughs] But I do. [Note: “off-book” is an acting term meaning performing a scene or a play without needing to refer to the script.]

It shows!

So it feels like really finding someone who wants to play the game, and the game is improvising – by using the facts as a skeleton to then create more material. And, also, to use what we're talking about to talk about whatever comes to mind, and give an event some cultural context, and talk about what it makes us think of in our own lives. 

So, there's an amount of generosity. You can't expect someone to offer it to you, but when they do, it's very exciting. And it's the willingness to play the game, to have fun with it, to bounce ideas and jokes back and forth, and also to be present and to be open, to some extent. 

Not that you have to. If you come into a situation like that completely opened, then your whole self is going to fall out. But enough openness to share some intimacy, if you feel inclined to at the moment – if that feels like part of what makes this experience meaningful to you, that combination of play and self-exploration. 

And then the listener can meet you. Because if they're hearing you being honest and being maybe a little bit raw about things, then they know that they're in a place where they can maybe hear the thoughts that they don't normally listen to in their own mind. 

I notice that you use metaphor a lot...

I do! [laughs] sort of sum things up, or the way you move something forward – and, oftentimes, humorous metaphor. I mean, you're super-funny!

Thank you!

Do you think of yourself as a funny person?

Oh yeah, totally. I think that funny people tend to be made and not born, and that childhood loneliness is one of the prerequisites. There are plenty of lonely children who just grow up to be engineers, but humor is something that you develop if you feel the need to create something useful that you can contribute to any social situation, because you don't feel comfortable just bringing yourself. I really claim that as a badge of honor, of having made it through childhood. [laughs] 

When you were struggling with that as a kid, how would you describe what it was like inside your head versus what it's like inside your head now? Are they different? 

Yeah. It's funny, I think my biggest enemy inside my own brain is kind of a negative internal monologue, and I don't remember thinking like that when I was a kid. I was thinking a lot more [then] in terms of imagining myself in these fanciful Walter Mitty-like situations, and I had a very rich fantasy life that I would retreat to a lot. 

A career in the arts is also something that having, possibly, even too big of a fantasy life growing up prepares you for, because you know how to create a place that you can go to in your own mind. And sometimes that teaches you the skills to invite other people into something like that. 

When I was a child, my sense of humor was still being formed, and I was spending a lot of time memorizing whatever I saw on Comedy Central and then presenting it – like, trying it out as material in school. 

One of the things that feels similar then and now is the feeling of, at the worst moments, not knowing how to behave convincingly like “a person”, and trying to figure out what to do. [laughs] 

Is that part of what led you to want to study acting in college? [Note: Sarah studied acting during her time at Bennington College.] 

Yeah, totally. Because acting is something that forces you to spend time in your body, and without realizing, that was what I wanted at the time – a big draw for me.

Do you find yourself using those skills now when you're recording? 

Yeah, I think so. Because there's an element of focus in performance that people learn in other places, but that was where I learned it – the idea that, again, if you're recording a show, it is a little bit like a play or rehearsal, where even if things begin to wobble, you don't break. You keep going. 

It seems there is a bit of a compact – especially when you're talking about those experiences where the people you're recording with are playing that ping pong game with you – like, we're going to put on our “acting togs” now and do our thing, to be a thing.


Does it feel that way?

I think so, yeah. I was thinking about how in All That Jazz it shows Roy Scheider beginning every morning by going, “It’s showtime, folks!” in the mirror. There is a “showtime” element of it. Or else it's just, if you're doing something that stresses you out, it's helpful to think of it as “showtime”. 

If you're authentically inside of a conversation that's meant to be listened to by strangers, then you're eighty-five percent inside of yourself – inside of your reactions – and fifteen percent sort of “cheated out” toward the imaginary audience a little bit, and thinking in layers.

 [Note: “cheating out” is an acting term meaning that an actor positions their face and body in such a way as to allow the audience to see them better, and to include the audience more, than if the actor is simply face-to-face with their scene partner.] 

And so [you’re] thinking, on top of whatever you're reacting to, about how you can anticipate people reacting to what's going on, and what you want to do for them in this moment.

Has that gotten easier for you over time? Is that something that you’ve had to learn how to do? 

Yeah, I think so – it is a skill set. And I fall probably too much, a lot of people would say, on the side of letting the audience figure things out for themselves – I think over-explaining things is annoying [laughs] and that’s how we end up with annoying work for no one – and also in moderating discussions or doing Q&A-type stuff. But yeah, it is certainly something that gets a lot easier with practice. 

And it's this pursuit of trying to have a conversation that is genuinely interesting to you –there's nothing more obvious than people feigning interest in something – but then also doing it in a way that makes it accessible to audiences, and also lets the person you're talking to express themselves in ways that they weren't necessarily expecting. 

Do you get nerves before you record? Do you ever get stage fright? 

Yeah. Yeah, I do.

What do you do about that?

You know, I try to just not think about it. And it is something that forces me to exist in the moment. Because if I have something I'm stressed about doing, I just don't try to anticipate trying to think it through in my head in advance. 

I'm approaching having done two hundred episodes for both of the shows that I do, so I've spent, conservatively, probably about a thousand hours having conversations that are being recorded for some kind of audio format use. And the comfort that comes from that, and the reason that you do something that much, is that you do develop that faith with yourself where it feels like there's this inner trapeze act – where, when you're out there in front of people, you know that you will think of something to say, and then keep thinking of things, because you've done it so many times before.

There's a trust or a respect for it, that you don't get in your own way...

Mmm hmm.

...that you can allow the inspiration to come. It just doesn't get blocked. 

Right. Because when you don't have that sense of comfort about the thing you're doing, you tend to over-prepare, and then the questions that you come up with in advance are standing in the way of, often, better questions that can occur to you when you're actually having the interaction. And that fear of going “off-book” can hold back a lot of the best insights we can have.

You've been lauded by awards, and large audiences, and a devoted fan base. How do you experience that? Do you believe it?

Kind of. I mean, not really. Because no matter how you experience that, you then go back to your life where your relationships are still the same. Like, your relationship with your mother is the same, your relationship with your pets is the same. 

Which is probably why pets are so important as a grounding thing – they’re just never going to be impressed by any kind of hype around you. If you have a dog, they couldn't be more impressed, and if you have a cat, they couldn't be less impressed. [laughs] Not that I think cats think poorly of us – they just deign to live with us, and we shouldn't ask for more. [laughs]

But yeah, I think of it at this point, having kind of gotten used to the idea to an extent, that I have a lot of friends that I [just] haven't met yet. Because I have put sometimes the best of myself, always the most of myself, into these shows that I do, and people do get an authentic experience of them. 

When I meet people who have had that experience, the weird thing about it is that it actually feels like the plot of that movie Argylle that everyone's complaining about, where you've lived this whole life and then had amnesia, so you meet people who clearly know you – they’ve spent time with you, they've spent the pandemic with you – and you're, like, “Yeah, I guess that happened...I mean, I don't remember it, but I know I was there.” [laughs] 

Sure, and their response is their response. You can’t own it. You have nothing to say about it. 

Well, exactly. Right. 

Fundamentally, our brains were not meant to be able to cope with the technology we now have, but it feels unusually like a good technology, rather than something we never should have learned how to do. Because it feels like the shows that I make are like my honey, as a bee who flies around and looks at all these flowers and thinks about things, and then I'm able to share the essence of that with people. 

And they take it and make whatever they're going to make out of it.

Right – and then they go and make mead. [laughs] 

You do have to let some of that in, about what people might think of this or how they might respond to that. But you're also creating art, and the artist’s job is to mostly make it for themselves, you know? 

Mmm hmm. 

At least initially. There is a certain amount of, “I'm going to make what I make.” Because you're making an art form, you are doing art, making something from nothing, and you're running it through your own artistic sensibility, your own lens. So, are there times where you feel that you're making something, and you suspect that maybe it'll be received differently than you intend, but you're just gonna do it anyway because it's important to you to do it? 

Yeah, I think so. Because you're never going to get people a hundred percent on board. And I was thinking about how if you make a change to a product and people don't like it, then some number of people do like it. It’s never going to be everybody. Unless your product is Facebook – then the change is probably kind of arbitrary.

[Note: both of Sarah’s podcasts have gone through changes. Sarah originally co-hosted You’re Wrong About with Michael Hobbes, until Hobbes left the podcast in 2021 to focus on other projects; and You Are Good was originally titled Why Are Dads.]

That has been a difficult part of the process. Because I am, categorically, a people-pleaser. It's hard to be a people-pleaser whose job it is to say things that people will dislike at times. But it's easier when you're in this medium where you are able to feel like you're still in a very intimate situation with the person that you're talking to. 

And if you feel secure in your convictions, then it still can still feel very easy to say something that on some level, in the back of your head, you know is going to be tough for people, that you feel is being received by the person that you're talking to.

Do you picture that person in any way – the person who eventually will be the listener? 

Not really. I mean, sometimes I imagine the sort of “statistical averages” listener, which I imagine is some kind of librarian [laughs] – and we do have some anecdotal evidence to bear that out. I think of it not in really specific ways but in terms of, like, “It's been two weeks and this person expects to be entertained, and we have to have something to come out on Monday.”

And it's going to be what it is. 

Right. Yeah. And the point is that it's something to have on while you're at the garden center. [laughs] 

One thing that I really enjoy is the way, in both of your shows, sometimes you are telling, and sometimes you are receiving. 

Mmm hmm.

And there's a thing, especially, about women taking up space and knowing a thing or two and speaking knowledgeably.


That is so great to see, and it's not always pure. Are you aware of that, of being in that paradigm? Is that important to you? 

Yeah, it is. 

My dad, when I was growing up, was very into finding reasons why it was impossible for him to listen to what I was saying, because I talked too fast, or I said “like”, or my voice was too high, or my voice was too loud. [laughs] 

Most of us learn at some point, if we're being raised as women in this country, that there are a lot of made-up reasons why nobody cares what we think. And, also, verbally has always been the area where I feel most comfortable – where even if I was not able to contribute much physically, or in terms of math or science or more practical things, that I could put things into words, and that this was an area where I could feel strong. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a comedian. And there's kind of an unbroken line from there to now, in terms of talking for a living – and people, understandably, [laughs] who get into it because they don't feel listened to growing up, and how that can happen for positive reasons. And it can happen for sinister reasons, where sometimes you never wake up and realize people are hearing you. 

And, yeah, it is important to me to show people how fun it is to express an idea as well as you possibly can. 

The comedian’s process is so fascinating, in the sense that they go out and they try stuff before it's done, to see if it works.


And if they bomb, they'll go out the next night and do it again to see if it's going to bomb again, or keep refining it.


And you have to do that in real time. I mean, I know there's editing and all, but you have to go, “Well, I'm going to toss this out and see if it works.”

Right. There's only so much you can fix in editing. 

And there's a thing about that – that is “taking up space”. You are occupying a space. 

Yeah. The whole the discourse around taking up space is interesting, because people are clearly picturing different things when they say that, right? You can describe someone as taking up space as if there's a very finite amount of real estate on the market, and any space you take up is space that's surely someone who is even more worth listening to could have used – which I think is a fun way that leftists have invented at silencing each other. Or you could see it as, if nobody is talking right now, and there's a little bit of silence for you to use, then you should use it – it’s free! [laughs] 

I'm also thinking of it in terms of, “I belong here and I'm gonna take ownership of that, and I'm gonna respect the fact that I belong here by being fully in it.” 


And then it's always the listener's choice. They can always turn it off. 


But being in that moment, you're saying, “Well, I'm here, and I have a thing I do, and I'm going to make it as three-dimensional as I can.”


Here's where I'm going with that: do you listen to your earliest shows?

Not lately. I can see doing that at some point, but it's not something I've done in a while.

I’m curious, even if you don't listen to them now, if you have a perception of the way that you occupy that space, and if it's changed over time. 

I think so, yeah. Looking back at the way I remember it feeling to record those, I think I had much more anxiety about entertaining people. Thinking of what to say, thing by thing, felt more difficult. 

There is a sense of ease that you develop with your theoretical audience – meaning, you  know, real people, but ones you can't see – that just has to come with time in the sense of, “We've done a lot of these together before – here, let’s do another one.” [laughs] 

You've described You Are Good as “a feelings podcast about movies.”


Why is that important to you, making art about feelings about mass-consumed things? 

Well, I feel like we all have become these bowerbirds who make nests out of Styrofoam at this point – where we are trying to create an identity, and a sense of self, and a sense of what a relationship should look like, out of the random pieces of pop culture that we get handed by our admittedly sometimes horrible culture. [laughs] 

It just feels like one of the least intimidating ways to propose having a conversation about feelings is to do it through movies. Because people can feel lured in by something fun, which the movies typically are, but then also we have something shared to talk about and we can branch out from there. 

I think that a lot of what brings us together, in a world where we spend a lot of our time meeting and working with people who we didn't grow up with – who we don't really know very much about – the culture that we share helps us to trust each other. 

I’ve noticed that it feels like you are having an empathetic or sympathetic response to some of the subjects that you're talking about or that you’re delving into, the “how do I find the humanity in this thing?” Are you aware of doing that, or does it just happen? 

I think it's just what I like to do. And I realize this might not be something that everybody does, but truly, whenever I'm reading – watching movies, but more with reading stuff – if I'm reading a piece of fiction, with every new character that's introduced, I will imagine myself as them, and think about, “Oh yeah, this is someone I can really find some point of connection with.” [laughs] And I think that that comes from, again, growing up needing fictional people to keep me company, to some extent. 

Empathy is, less so now, but in the past few years there was a lot of language about, “I'm an empath, so therefore I'm better than everyone else.” Which is not a very empathetic thing to say. [laughs] But that was a thing that we went through as a culture. 

Empathy can also be something that you develop a little too strong a sense of, because you have to keep track of everybody else's feelings in order to try and pacify people around you, and try and have some control over your own safety. So it's very possible to be overly attuned to the feelings of others. 

One of the things I really like about doing both of these shows is that they become places where we can talk about relationships, and what we deserve as human beings in our relationships. Most of the relationships we see modeled in fiction are horrible, because those are more entertaining, and it's hard to get a sense of what we actually should be working towards sometimes. 

And if you’ve had any acting training, which you have, part of the experience of embodying a character is, you have to find something in the character that you can understand and relate to and champion, in a way.


So if you're playing a villain, it’s not always helpful to totally hate your character – you’ve got to find something in there you can love or at least understand. You've covered a lot of villainous people... 


...and yet one of the things about being a person who makes art and expresses art is that you have to find that same kind of connection to whatever it is that you're creating, because you are processing it through yourself. And there's something about the humanity of something, that plugging into it will help you find more dimension in it. What I've experienced from listening to when you’re, like, “Oh yeah, I’m kind of getting this” about whoever you're covering, is it brings it into more dimension and then makes it more universal for everybody.

Oh yeah, that's definitely the goal. And one of the things I always think of with people who have made especially terrible decisions is, “All right, well, why did this make sense to you at that time?” Because one of my more controversial beliefs is that everyone is doing their best all the time, and that this is their best. [laughs] It's a lot to take in. 

Yeah, it's a sliding scale, I guess...

Mmm hmm.

What kinds of creators inspire you? What is it about them as creators that you get plugged into or excited by? What are their characteristics? 

Yeah, let's see. I'm going to list some creators I like. I've recently got really into Chris Fleming, the comedian, who did this web series, like, ten years ago called Gayle, which is about a very high-strung Massachusetts mom doing things like impersonating her child so she could take the SATs herself. [laughs]

And who else? Jay DeFeo was a visual artist who I used to have kind of a fixation on when I was younger – and probably still do – and she worked on this famous piece called “The Rose” that eventually became so giant that they had to cut a hole in her house to remove it. She actually has work in the San Francisco Airport which is right by where I always charge my phone. [laughs] 

So what would you say is...

What's the comparison between those two people? 


I've always been very attracted to artists who get very immersed in their work. When you say “artist” to me, I also think of, when I was a kid I had these wonderful illustrated books called the Lives of the Writers, the Lives of the Musicians, the Lives of the Artists.

They would have an illustration, then two and a half pages of biography, and then fun facts. And I really loved them – I think they were the right thing for my attention span. But, you know, [they would] have some stuff about how, the first night he performed Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin played the piano and left blood on the keys because he pounded so hard at the end of the night. Or Stephen Foster could make an entire meal out of one turnip. [laughs] 

That's commitment! 

Yeah, I mean, turnips are good. I remember identifying with that. I was, like, “I could also just eat a turnip.” And it was, like, “Yeah, you’re nine.” [laughs]

Not a lot of nuance going on!

And again, this balance is something that we all have to figure out as adults, and you have to work toward the balance that you don't maybe need to think about in childhood. But I have always loved looking at artists who didn't let their art consume them like a fire, but maybe just created a life where their art was as important as they were, and was a presence in everything they did.

I do really believe that one of the best tools we have for finding out who we are and what's inside of us, and for sharing the real essence of ourselves, is through the work that we make, and that if we surrender control, then things will happen that we weren't planning. And I looked at artists to learn that that was where the real work happened.

So how would you describe your own relationship to the art you make? 

Well, it's funny, because when I write something I really like, I will come back to it over the years and kind of admire it and enjoy it. And podcasts are a lot more imperfect, and I have to just let them go and I don't really revisit them very much, because I’ll just fixate on how I could have said or [done] this better. 

Writing is something that I have the illusion of being more perfectible, because it’s something you can freeze as it is on a page and it doesn't have to be as organic. I'm trying to rebuild my relationship to writing, because that's something that has gotten shoved off the back of the stove in the past few years in the work I've been doing. 

Yes, I was going to ask you about that. 

Yeah, it’s something I'm trying to get back to just by journaling, by writing about day-to-day life. I like to just be thinking about the next thing.

Is it comfortable for you to feel proud of things that you make? 

It's uncomfortable! I'm afraid that it's a trick. My overarching fear is that anytime I drop hypervigilance, then something terrible is going to happen as a result. So [it] feels like a key way to get too comfortable is to enjoy your art. But I do experience it still, in moments, in this very unholy-feeling way, and it feels great and shameful and weird. [laughs] 

That seems like a good place to end! 

I think so! [laughs]