My DIY Master’s Degree

by Liz

I started “In the Telling” podcast in early 2019 because I couldn’t afford the time and money to get the Master’s Degree I have always wanted. I was a full-time caregiver for an elderly parent with no money to spare and very little extra time. I was also recovering from a surgery, so doing something on a computer was the only creative outlet I could manage for a couple weeks.

“In the Telling” has provided me all the opportunity that I had hoped for and more to learn from master artists, entertainers and storytellers. It has exceeded my every expectation in what I would learn, and how much I would enjoy doing it. It has brought me an affection, admiration for, and connection with Utah’s community of creatives that I’ve craved. But entering the third year of the homeschool, DIY master’s degree program that is my podcast, I’ve decided it’s time for my thesis.

It’s a full-throttle engagement with whatever the script has for me.

Me, on directing theatre, from Britty’s interview

In the fall of 2019, I sat down with creator and host of The Bemused Podcast, Britty Marie, to talk about my work as theatre director. I have a BFA in Theatre. The majority of my professional career has been in theatre. In a way, this interview with Britty was great annual review for my first year of this self-directed graduate school. It gave me chance to diagnose some difficiencies, identify areas of improvement, and formulate and articulate some thoughts regarding my work, process, and philosophy. This fall, in 2020, I was a guest on Your Cre8tivity podcast with host Dylan Mazziotti. I’m counting that as the annual review for the second year of my makeshift, shoe-string graduate education.

Creativity, for me, is when you drop a little bit of ink in water…there’s that really pretty unfurling of ink as it distributes in the water. That’s when inspiration strikes. I have this idea and it starts to expand, and if I have time in that moment to follow that expansion, it get’s richer and richer and it’s like flow…otherwise it just dilutes.

Me, on Creative Inspiration, from Dylan’s interview

But I’ve been missing more formal education. I’ve been taking free webinars through three really amazing outlets. The first is Patreon. Their livestream Creator Success Workshops, (free for members of Patreon to attend live or stream as archives and available for non-members in archives as well,) are dense with helpful information. The second outlet is Artists Elevated thru Utah Presents. The series I’m enjoying is ongoing and if you are interested in the arts in Utah, you should definitely check these panels out. The third free resource is the Utah Shakespeare Festival YouTube channel Utah Shakes. This was the first quarantine at home education resource I latched on to this year. I’ve loved the production seminars in the virtual seminar grove. I’ve also begun more formal coursework through the NYU TISCH School of Performing Arts and Yellowbrick Road. Thanks to a scholarship and a generous benefactor, my tuition for the Performing Arts Industry Essentials certification program is totally covered.

Most traditional students complete their Master’s Degree in three years. Following that pattern, 2021 is time for my thesis. “In the Telling” will continue to release new content in 2021, however, it will move to a twice-monthly release schedule to accommodate the work load of my self-directed thesis project. New episodes will release on the 1st and 15th of every month, though I may take off August for summer break as I have done the previous two years.

So, what is this thesis project that will be absorbing much of my 2021 time? The publication of a dark, period romance novel. I could not be more excited, or more nervous. My novel has been alternating between stalled and in-the-works for many years. It has taken a back seat to every gig, every project, every assignment and employment I’ve received in the interim. It’s time for my writing to take priority and cross the finish line. I intend to use everything I’ve learned from my podcast guests in making my novel the very best I can create. It will be a big stretch, and a fun culmination and celebration of my storytelling journey.

And it’s a project that still intimidates me.

I like that. I think that’s good. My best work has always intimidated me on some level, whether in film or theatre, in composing my favorite poems or favorite photos. Small or large scale, everything I’ve ever made that I’ve been really thrilled to make has always struck me with fear in the undertaking.

If you’d like to be part of my community, I encourage you to join my Patrons on Patreon. I love creating for my Patrons. My desires to reward them are the best motivators for holding to my self-imposed deadlines. These people are part cheerleading team, and part thesis committee to whom I will present my work. As a Patron, you get exlusive glimpses into my creative efforts, my profuse thanks, acknowledgements, and the printed works I create as rewards. There are different tiers for different amounts of financial support. I count Marley, Candace, Luke, Jill, Josh and Jason as dear friends who know me better than most through supporting my work as Patrons.

However you back or share my work–liking my posts, reading this blog, sharing links to my videos, becoming a Patron–I appreciate your active support. There are lots of people who appreciate that art is being made and consume it regularly, if casually. Friends, neighbors, and family are ready with “what are you up to now?” and “that sounds interesting,” and “good for you.” But the active support of people who share, purchase and engage with the work of creatives keep us employed and hiring. You are our community. Thank you for being part of my community, my support. You energize me.

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