Show Notes for Ep. 32 "What Is Your Jam?"

How does a writer choose a theme to write about? Is it a conscious project, or more of a thing that comes to a writer through time and experience? This is the central question Mary Anne and Ben try to answer in this episode, using their own experiences, as well as the writing exercises, practices, and advice that have been helpful to them.

Recorded 19 July 2020 / Published 7 December 2021


  • 0:00:00: Intro note about slight spoilers in the episode
  • 0:00:42: On creative constraint and its usefulness
  • 0:02:51: On invention vs. research in the process of writing
  • 0:09:25: Mary Anne at Clarion and writing genre stories in a mainstream lit way
  • 0:11:37: Mary Anne and Ben on the theme of gender in their work
  • 0:15:21: On being aware of the effect of your writing on an audience
  • 0:18:35: On the importance of writing with community
  • 0:21:30: Mary Anne on why sex was a big theme in her early writing
  • 0:25:25: The ouevre crit and it’s importance to Mary Anne and Ben’s writing
  • 0:30:00: On John Scalzi and the theme of his works
  • 0:36:04: Is youth important in the success of a writer?
  • 0:41:10: On Carol Emshwiller and the relationship of space to women writers 
  • 0:45:09: Ben on the themes that initially interested him
  • 0:51:33: Is it possible to sneak up on your themes as you write?
  • 0:59:23: Intermission and ads
  • 1:00:06: On the contention of the internal wilderness and political values within writers
  • 1:07:13: More closely defining the ouevre crit
  • 1:10:33: Mary Anne on her early themes
  • 1:21:00: On dragons and Mary Anne’s writing exercise idea
  • 1:26:48: Ben on finding your jam and lowering the stakes
  • 1:31:35: A Star Trek aside
  • 1:33:57: Closing thoughts, advice, and writing maxims

Notes and Links