Elizabeth Marshall and I first met online years ago because of our love of poetry and common Christian faith. Last April we finally hugged each other in person at a Christian writer’s conference but the time was much too brief. (There was an impending ice storm and everyone was scurrying to get home.)
Elizabeth is a talented photographer with a stunning eye for beauty and weaves words on the page as well. As another #SageOne, a faith writer over 50, I am pleased for you to know her and discover her latest endeavor, the Peabiddies Podcast, Pursuing the Art of Noticing. Learning keeps us young, I’ve found, and Elizabeth proves it. In my (long distance) interview we talk about the challenges of a new frontier and how walking with Jesus looks different in every age and stage of life. (oh, and about peacocks!)
Please welcome Elizabeth Marshall.
Tell us a little about your educational background, any degrees, and life experience.I earned a BA in History from Hollins University in Virginia in 1981. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that Annie Dillard, who is now a favorite writer of mine, had attended Hollins years earlier. My freshman dorm was named Tinker, which will have a familiar ring to it if you are at all familiar with Dillard’s work. She won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Although I clearly cannot change the past, it would have been lovely to have majored in English so I could have walked a step or two that Dillard walked. When I make lists of favorite authors, she is at the top.2. What was your first career?After graduating from college, I headed to New York to work for Young & Rubicam advertising agency on Madison Avenue. I worked for Y&R as a media planner and media supervisor for close to five years. Since moving to South Carolina, I’ve worked for a magazine as the Advertising Director, I’ve owned a small business, and I’ve worked as a realtor. I look back and believe that while my time living in Manhattan in New York had its difficulties for this young woman from the South, it taught me invaluable lessons about life, business, and marketing.Although I enjoyed aspects of my life there, I certainly was cured of any desire for city life long term. Living here in a small shrimping village, one without a stoplight, provides the perfect antidote to that fast-paced season of my life. I believe everything that was challenging and difficult about that first career has provided threads to pull from in my life as a writer and creative. Perhaps it goes without saying, but I prefer the pace of this village in the South Carolina Lowcountry to Manhattan.3. How and why did you decide to start a podcast? And tell us about the name “Peabiddies.”My decision to dive into podcasting was based on several factors. And honestly, the further I get into developing this project, the more clearly I see that it provides a valuable piece to the puzzle of my writing and creative life. Weaving together the music, my narration segments and monologues, as well as the interview portions with the show’s guests brings a dimension to my life as a writer that stretches and challenges me. The writing life, by definition, is often marked by periods of solitude as we dig down deep into our writing projects. The weekly podcast provides me an opportunity to pivot, shift gears and use a different part of my creative brain.The themes of my podcast, pursuing the art of noticing and discovering beauty, awe, and wonder, allow me to dovetail or underscore if you will, themes found in my poetry and non-fiction work, all infused with the understanding of God in the midst.About the name: I have always loved the process of naming things. In this case I was looking for a podcast moniker which did not already exist in the podcast world, one that was unique, that I enjoyed repeating, and that had personal significance. (Perhaps it’s no surprise that there is alliteration in the title with the presence of three “p” words). My hope was there’d be many opportunities to say the name, so I’d need to be very fond of it. Finding something that was playful and whimsical was important too. One day I stumbled on the word “peabiddies” while reading a Flannery O’Connor book. Peabiddies are the chicks or baby peafowl of the peacock and peahen, and since I’ve always had a crazy love of peacocks, it seemed a perfect fit. I hope Peabiddies stays around for a good long while.4. Practical question–do you write your program content out first before you start recording? It sounds very well thought out!For now at least in these early stages, it’s best for me to type out most of what I want to record of my voice for Peabiddies. When I am interviewing guests, I type out my questions or have a guideline to follow. I want the podcast to evolve organically, to sound natural and to flow. I have a lot of work to do in all areas, that’s for sure. But my goal is for it to flow in such a way that the listener has the sense that he or she is listening to a conversation, or is a part of a conversation.The learning curve is fairly steep and I have tremendous room for improvement and for refinement. But I can say I am having fun and truly enjoying the process of learning all the nuances of the medium. The most important thing for me is for the listeners to enjoy what I am producing—find something of real value. My hope is that the podcast episodes are stimulating, interesting, fun, and draw the listeners in again and again. I want this to be a place that flings the door open in a hospitable way. Here is where my southern roots come in a bit with a graciousness that feels welcoming. As I said earlier, there is room for improvement as I build a library of episodes. Hopefully, the listener will see us grow and improve in what we offer as time goes on.5. Since you are a believer in Christ, how does your faith inform your work on the podcast, either behind the scenes or in front of the microphone?My faith certainly impacts my work. My hope and desire is for the two to be seamlessly connected. I believe it is important for me to pray over these words and these projects of mine, and to be continually seeking God’s guidance as I discern how to navigate my way through my creative life.I’m very fortunate to be in a small writers group where three women share a love of writing and our Christian faith and beliefs. We pray regularly for one another— over the writing projects we are involved with—providing encouragement and support for one another’s work. All of my creative projects are run through the sieve of my belief that God has called me to this life of being a writer and that He alone sustains me and gives me the passion for my work, my art.