Retrospective: Tim Manley

Watch a short video clip of this episode above or hear the full interview below.

I’m going to make my art (whatever that might be) with everything that I’ve got and make it matter to me and really really hope that that means something to other people. And the strange thing—at least that I’ve experienced—is that almost every time that I let out more of myself or I make my work more ‘me’ . . . it almost always means that more people connect with it. Almost always.
— Tim Manley on Retrospective: The Podcast
Tim Manley is one of my favorite people with whom to talk, write, and share a storytelling stage. His honesty makes you feel at home just listening to him, and his generosity nudges you to ask him a good question. And then another. 

On November 5th, Tim's new book, Alice in Tumblr-land: And Other Fairytales for a New Generation comes out. Join us for this conversation about: 

  • Changing careers and going all-in with creative work
  • "Millenials" and Tim's own journey through his 20s
  • Not apologizing for one's work (despite the temptation to do just that) 
  • Having an unconventional drawing education
  • Finding work that sits well with your soul, and
  • The benefits of looking at your accomplishments through the 5-Years-Ago Lens.

Click the player below, or listen and subscribe in iTunes. Find previous episodes of Retrospective here.

Tim Manley is the writer and illustrator of Alice in Tumblr-land: And Other Fairy Tales for a New Generation (Penguin Books). It is based on his tumblr, Fairy Tales for Twenty-Somethings.

Tim is a Moth StorySLAM winner, mentor with PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Program, and a former English teacher at School of the Future in New York City. He has officiated eight weddings, one of which was Beatles-themed. 

Retrospective: Michael Nobbs

I think a lot of people get caught up in the *process* of doing more (how to make lists or get things done) without actually doing it. So if you kind of strip away all the complexity and systems, you actually have a lot more time and energy left anyway. . . . But actually trusting to take that step is quite difficult, I think.
— Michael Nobbs, creator of

In this episode, Jen interviews Michael Nobbs, the creator of and the author of Drawing Your Life: Learn to See, Record and Appreciate Life's Small Joys.  Listen in to the conversation as Michael and Jen talk:

  • time, sufficiency and the pervasive pressures of the internet
  • Michael's journey: from diagnosis to drawing to a creative career
  • the artists and works that have inspired and influenced Michael along the way
  • "Murder She Wrote" and becoming an author
  • and how to build trust in the model of working slowly, with time on your side.

Click the left arrow on the player above to play the episode, or subscribe and listen to Retrospective in iTunes.

You realize you can get somewhere over a period of time, and I’m a firm believer that if you stick to something, it almost doesn’t matter what you do, but if you stick to it eventually you will get somewhere. . . . Drawing became the thing I did, and I just kept doing it. But it could have been anything really.
— Michael Nobbs, author of Drawing Your Life
Michael Nobbs is a full-time artist, blogger and tea drinker (not necessarily in that order). He is author of the popular blog, Sustainably Creative and writes, tweets and podcasts about drawing and trying to keep things simple. In the late 1990s he was diagnosed with ME/CFS and over the last decade and a half he has learnt a lot about sustaining a creative career with limited energy. His new book, Drawing Your Life (made one page at a time!) was be published by Penguin/Perigee Books on 5th March.

Retrospective: Ophira Eisenberg

Photo by  Anya Garrett

Photo by Anya Garrett

The only upshot of age is you get to the point where you’re too exhasuted for a strategy that isn’t just organic. So you just go, I’m gonna be Me, and if it works out, great.
— Ophira Eisenberg

In this episode of Retrospective, I talk with my friend Ophira Eisenberg right before her new memoir releases nationwide. You may have heard her on NPR, seen her stand-up comedy recently onThe Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson or had the pleasure of seeing her live onstage.


Click the player below to listen, or listen and subscribe in iTunes. Find previous episodes of Retrospective here.

We chat over tea and a latte and talk about:

  • translating story and humor from stage to page
  • dealing with "What will 'they' think?"
  • and how she combines hard work with navigating the opportunities that follow

Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy is now available on Amazon.

For Ophira's storytelling wisdom, check out the Telling Your Story multimedia course.

Ophira Eisenberg is a stand-up comedian, host of NPR's Ask Me Another, and a writer. She has appeared on Comedy Central, VH1, E!, and the TV Guide Network. She is also a regular host and storyteller with The Moth. Find her online at

Retrospective: Caren McLellan Gazley

Unless you stop, you don’t know how stressed you are. You don’t know how neurotic you’re being. You don’t know how unhealthy you’re being. . . . Is that really where I want to go—where I can’t see it because I’m so busy, but the people around me are going to know it and see it and have to partake of it?
— Caren McLellan Gazley, author of Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care

In this episode, meet author Caren McLellan Gazley, whose wisdom and friendship have mentored me for most of my adult life. Her career has centered around being of service, whether under the umbrella of faith communities or international humanitarian work. Grab a warm, steamy drink, dim the lights and press play to be transported to my kitchen table with us.

Click the player below to listen, or listen and subscribe in iTunes. Find previous episodes of Retrospective here.

Our in-depth conversation covers:

  • how Caren's journey brought self care under a spotlight
  • the kind of pacing and care that can help one sustain a career in service of others
  • finding the way into our own solutions and tools
  • taking self care from the realm of luxury to necessity
  • why it's not as simple as following a formula
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Caren McLellan Gazley is a soul care specialist and human rights activist whose work has led her to places like Mauritania and Albania. Still an L.A. girl at heart, Caren has deep wisdom drawing from her rich personal experiences about caring for yourself in the midst of parenting, partnerships, community and passionate work. She is the author of Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide for Creative Self Care.

Retrospective: Diana Spechler

One problem a lot of us suffer from is getting partway through something and then dropping it . . . but what if you finished it first, and then made that decision? It could be very surprising. And I’ve found breaking through those times of feeling discouraged has often resulted in my best work.
— Diana Spechler

Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Skinny and Who by Fire.  In this episode of Retrospective, Diana talks about:

  • fiction, nonfiction, and where your secrets come out
  • dealing with being seen during a very personal book release
  • "punch and get out" --lessons learned from storytelling
  • keeping ego untangled from the creative process, and
  • wrestling projects into submission.

Click on the player above to listen, or subscribe to Retrospective in iTunes. You can find previous episodes here.

Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Who By Fire (Harper Perennial, 2008) and Skinny (Harper Perennial, 2011). She has written for the New York TimesGQ; O, The Oprah MagazineCNN Living; EsquireNew YorkParis ReviewSelf;Details; the Wall Street JournalSalonSlate;NerveSouthern ReviewGlimmer Train Stories; and elsewhere. She is also a four-time Moth StorySLAM winner and has been featured on NPR. She received her MFA degree from the University of Montana and was a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University and the writer-in-residence at Portsmouth Abbey School. A 2012-2013 LABA Fellow, she teaches writing in New York City and for Stanford University's Online Writer's Studio.

Retrospective: Phil Gazley

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In this episode, meet Phil Gazley, an anti-human trafficking educator who works with communities and law enforcement agencies around the world. We talk art, culture, creative integrity and more:
  • How to prevent human trafficking by focusing on other things, and what he's seeing right now
  • What anti-trafficking activists can learn from independent artists
  • The power of artists to influence culture philosophically
  • A middle road between academia and business created by independent art and soul care
  • Commercialization and philosophical integrity
  • Creating a culture of invitation and working on a grassroots level

Phil Gazley works on anti-trafficking efforts, developing coalitions and partnering with government groups, law enforcement agencies and NGOs. You can support this work here.


Click the player above to listen.

Hear more great conversations with artists, authors and visionaries on Retrospective. You can also subscribe in iTunes.