Episode 300: Meet Team Awesome — A Behind-the-Scenes Look at DIY MFA

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds! Welcome to the three hundredth episode of DIY MFA Radio!

The original plan for this episode was to unveil our first-ever DIY MFA live event—Writer Igniter LIVE—which we were planning for October. In light of current events, we’ve put the planning  for that on hold. That said, we still wanted to honor this special milestone episode by doing something a little bit different.

To that end, I’ve gathered Team Awesome together to talk about a new approach we’ve been taking with DIY MFA. While from an outside perspective DIY MFA has been chugging away as it always has been, over the past three months the team and I have been doing a lot of internal work, getting our house in order and making key shifts to how we approach the work that we do. One of these key shifts is the concept of building mental theme parks

Now, theme parks hold a special significance for me. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with theme park design. Most kids go to Disney World for the rides; I was that weirdo kid begging her parents to let her take the behind-the-scenes tour of the underground tunnels. 

When I was twelve or so, I decided I wanted to design a ride for Epcot Center. You see, while the World Showcase features many different countries, there isn’t a single one from South America. (Sorry Mexico, but you’re not in South America). I thought it was a travesty that an entire continent would be overlooked like that, so I decided to design the Brazilian Pavilion (I mean, the marketing copy practically writes itself.

Most normal kids spend their summers traveling or going to camp. I spent my summer researching 18th century Brazilian architecture, drafting up design drawings, and brainstorming possible corporate sponsors. I even mapped out a ride. I designed everything, from the menus of the pavilion restaurants to the types of souvenir shops and what they would sell. Then I packaged everything together and mailed the envelope to Mr. Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney. A few months later, I got a reply with a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo about not being able to consider unsolicited submissions, blah blah blah. 

The result was disappointing. As a kid, I didn’t care about the money, I just wanted to see my idea out in the world and getting the envelope sent back without them even considering the concept was hard. Still, that one experience has shaped my life in many unexpected ways. I continue to be obsessed with theme parks and other themed environments (Las Vegas, etc.) and this idea of “theming” is woven into everything I do as an author, teacher, and entrepreneur.

To this day, I think of everything I build—whether it’s a book, a course, or a podcast—I think of it as an experience I’m creating for the audience (i.e. you, my word nerds). This idea of DIY MFA as a theme park for the mind has become central to our team and what we do at DIY MFA. Listen in as Team Awesome and I jam about DIY MFA and building theme parks for the mind.

In this episode Jeanette, Bess, Lori and I discuss:

  • How DIY MFA is like a theme park for your mind
  • How this DIY MFA theme park is designed and operates
  • The different roles of Team Awesome in the park
  • How we’re moving forward as a team and a business during Corona Virus and beyond
  • Team Awesome’s tips for being creative in spite of Corona Virus
  • Free DIY MFA resources to help writers right now
  • What’s ahead for DIY MFA this year

Plus, their #1 tips for writers.

About Team Awesome

Jeanette the Writer

Jeanette the Writer is an editor, coach, and freelance writer who wants to help others demolish their editing fears and finish their manuscript. As a former scuba instructor turned entrepreneur, Jeanette knows about putting in the hard work to pursue your passions. She has worked with authors, speakers, coaches, and entrepreneurs—empowering them with the right mindset, knowledge, and tools to help them tackle their editing goals. You can learn more about Jeanette by visiting JeanetteTheWriter.com and GoldenRuleEditing.com

Bess McAllister

Bess McAllister writes epic books in expansive worlds from a tiny town in the Midwest. For seven years, she lived in New York and worked as a fiction editor at Tor Books. Now, she spends her days telling stories and helping other writers tell theirs. For writing advice, check out her editorial services and connect with her on Instagram

Bess’s work is represented by Brooks Sherman at Janklow and Nesbit Associates. 

Lori Walker

Lori Walker is the Operations Maven at DIY MFA. Though she’s fallen off the wagon as a writer, she’s hoping to return to writing essays (perhaps even a novel!) through her involvement with DIY MFA. She also teaches yoga part-time in Smalltown, Oklahoma, where she lives with her husband and their cat, Joan Didion.

Link to Episode 300

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

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