2: Unavailable till 3pm
March 16th 2022
I changed my slack status to “Feeling depressed, unavailable till 3 pm”
I wasn’t just feeling depressed. I was thinking of how much easier life would be if I was doing literally anything else. I was tired of being a self-starter and being the supervisor of my own work. I wanted to live in a world where someone else gave me a manageable task to do and I did it.
I had met up with the rest of the Voix team the previous day. In a small way, this triggered my depression. It was the first time we would all (4 of us) be meeting in person. We were meeting for our first recording session. I had written a script the previous week with the help of Aaliyah. To write the script, I had conducted 3 interviews - Actually, maybe I should go back up a little, to the beginning of this story (the one I am producing and the one I am telling you.)
Incase you are new here: My name is Mo Isu. I am an audio producer based in Lagos, Nigeria. I am currently attempting to build a career in audio journalism. I have taught myself everything I know so far. You are reading issue 2 of my newsletter detailing this segment of my journey. It heavily features my time at my current company (Voix Collective)
Our first podcast Our first Mini-story
February 28th 2020
We started having Monday meetings in January. I think they were Ebiye’s idea but I set up the calendar invite and lead the structure of the meetings. These meetings are usually an opportunity for us to align on what's going on and what we need to do in the coming week. The week starting February 28th, We needed to make a story - something. Thing is, making podcasts takes time. Full-length episodes take time. We are a podcast making company that didn’t have a podcast to show for it. I think Ebiye was starting to feel anxious about us making and putting out something. So on this call, he asked
“ Can we make something short and put it out in 2 weeks?”
“ Yes, we can. that’s very doable”
I should have probably asked for more time.
Note-to—self: Always ask for more time, even if you know you don’t need it.
I painstakingly documented the production progress on slack so here’s a timeline of my slack updates. Day-by-day.
Story Leads for pilot story
This is an emergency (This is the story I ended up doing)
The Xs and how their successes changed their lives (keeping the subject hidden - you know, just in case)
“Because it feels like lower hanging fruit. I think I will move forward with just the story around emergency service. Currently targeting two main angles. One from the angle of someone whose life was saved by emergency service and another from the perspective of emergency workers
Day 3: Production
Dropped the second story, focusing on interviews
Finish script for Part 1 of the episode
So I have decided to drop the Xs story and focus on the emergency one for now. Mostly because that story is a lower barrier to entry. Meanwhile, today I have one interview (at least) and two pre-interviews. All healthcare workers
Day 4: Production
Logging and storyboard: to-do
I didn’t leave as many updating messages after Day 4. In the week that came, I sent out a number of emails and jumped on off-record calls with 3 people. I sent emails to 4 other people that never replied. I interviewed 3 people about a time when they were involved in an accident and spoke to one doctor about a number of things including the problem with emergency service in Nigeria (from her perspective.) We also went on a small tangent about the ethics of being a human and a doctor (I hope to revisit this later.)
I put together my first edit for this piece and sent it to the slack group on March 15th at 2 am. We met later that day to record part of the script and I got the first reactions to my edit. This of course brings us back to March 16th 2022.
March 16th 2022
I changed my slack status to “Feeling depressed, unavailable till 3 pm”
( If this was an audio piece, I would insert music here to mark a change of tone. A downward change of tone. Think of the place where the bright colours of the rainbow meet the darker ones. That’s the tone change here. )
The music might feel like this one
I guess the thing I made wasn’t met with a lot of excitement. I mean the first response was an exclamation at the length. Then someone pointed out that a sound effect I used was harsh on the ear which was actually kind of the point. I will be honest with you, I was a little bit defensive. Not defensive at the feedback, I like to think I take feedback gracefully but I also like to push back for my choices. I felt like I had tried previously to communicate what I wanted to make with this audio piece. With the reactions, it didn’t feel like anyone had heard me. I had been excited at 1 am while I was making that edit.
My excitement plummeted after everyone heard it. I mean I know this particular feeling very well. I have experienced it time and time again while writing. Everything you try to make as an artist, you attempt to make perfect. You spend time, effort and love making something you think will be perfect. Then you learn from someone else that it is not perfect. This devastates you. It devastates me.
So I felt this way for some time. I also felt other feelings. I felt something that can be mistaken for regret but I know is not. It’s the recurring experience of wondering how different my life could be if I had stayed focused on my previous passions. Then another feeling, the feeling I live with perpetually, the feeling of knowing that your entire life is uncertain. The feeling that given multiple paths, the one I have chosen is the one with the least assurance or clarity. The feeling that I don’t know where I am going but yet, I continue to persist.
I continue to persist…
Mini-story 1: Accident on third mainland bridge.
The final version of this story went out on Thursday 14th April. I and Aaliyah spent that entire day crunching to upload it and publicise it (to admittedly not that many people.)
It went through a couple of more edits. I threw away what was meant to be the second act and cut down the first act. Actually, the entire direction I originally thought of taking with this story was scrapped and we decided to start a mini-story series with it. In the series, we will feature a simple story with a short act, a simple set-up, one piece of conflict/action and resolution. I am currently looking for the next stories in this series. Meanwhile, here’s the first one and our first produced publicly available piece.
An Introduction to the Voix Collective.
Other Storylines that didn’t make it to this Issue
I think the most major separate storyline would be my first source of external validation. It is a piece of audio storytelling that I wasn’t in control of but I contributed to. It was someone else calling me “Mo Isu, the reporter”. This is the first time that someone other than myself is recognising me as a journalist. If someone else says it, then surely it must be true. I am - a - journalist. Now that feels good.
Listen to Young, Unvaccinated and African
I am currently working on a number of production pieces both for Voix and for myself. They are all moving quite slowly as tends to be the case when you are one human being trying to be 100 people at the same time. Over the period that the main story of this issue happened, I was also working on a particular story for a podcast I am developing. The story took me to one of the most reported communities in Lagos. The community has become the main attraction for poverty stories about Lagos. The story I am working on isn’t about how poor the community is, although the community has become accustomed to those (they reacted immediately to seeing me walk in with my recorder.) It’s about something else that I find very interesting, can’t share yet. When I visited the community the first time to hopefully talk to someone about the story, I was completely sidetracked by a separate story, a story the people I met there seemed more interested in telling. A story about the true nature of goodwill. I haven’t gone back since then but I will and hopefully I can tell both of these stories.
I have been thinking a lot about my income. As I type this now, I have the document with my three focuses open in front of me.
Make enough money to take care of myself and my family.
Create and put out good work consistently and frequently
Get better at the work I am doing
I am thinking particularly about that first bit. I have been thinking a lot about that one. Honestly, I am probably always thinking about that. I am still taking freelance projects. I have done one tape sync project so far this year, hoping to do more. I have done one production contribution project as well (the one I linked above) and I am running towards the end of my current audio engineering gig with I Like Girls (featured in the guardian) The new I liked Girls season comes out next month.
I am looking for opportunities to contribute audio engineering to podcasts in Nigeria.
I am looking for tape sync opportunities.
I am looking for podcasts that accept outside contributors.
One of my efforts towards being able to find these gigs is by being part of communities. I am part of the Africa Audio Producers google group. I actually was part of the conversation that led to that starting (Shoot me an email if you would like an invite to this). I am also part of the UKAN (UK Audio Network) I recently tried to join the PublicRadioNYC (a similar group for NY public radio) but I need to be invited by a member.
If by some stretch of luck, you are a member of the PublicRadioNYC google group, please send me an invite, I would appreciate that so much.
I think this is where I will end today’s newsletter (I will work on more graceful endings)
In my next issue, what goes through my mind when talking to strangers.
Thank you for reading this one.
Following this issue, I will be sending these out every other Thursday/Friday. Look forward to my next issues in two weeks.
Since my last issue, Voix Collective got a website
You can still find us on Twitter and Instagram @voixcollective
Ewoma, our creative intern also started a newsletter which I am trying to help her shape. It’s called in your ears.
Read the about page for Act Two, I am proud of it
Please subscribe to my newsletter if you aren’t already a subscriber.
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And the grand ultimate support, buy me a coffee. I don’t think I would have gotten this far without all the people that have supported me in the past. So here I am again, asking for your kindness.