Q&A with Rachel

rachel

MOVER & SHAKER,
DO-ER & MAKER

Rachel McElroy

I remember the first time I met Rachel, we were living on the same floor of Johnston Hall at MU, and she was sitting on her dorm room bed, reading The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing. We exchanged a few sarcastic comments. I became a fan of hers from that moment, and am still one today.

In college, Rachel was a writer, and had an amazing opportunity as an intern and editor at The Missouri Review. She always made sure I clung to my creative roots, and even gave me a set of fancy watercolors as a wedding present.  I absolutely love following along on her adventures, which now include motherhood and podcasting.

Small world story: My husband and her husband work together, but didn’t know Rachel was a mutual connection!

***

  • Current City: Austin, TX
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? a writer
  • What are you now? A grant writer for a regional community college, a podcaster and a mom
  • How did you get to this point?  I focused a lot on creative writing in undergraduate (Mizzou) and graduate (University of Chicago) school. I also did some work at nonprofits and on the administrative side of higher education. A lot of stops on my path involved happy accidents. I got into grant writing because a coworker of mine left her grant writing position and shepherded me into the role because she knew I’d been coveting her position. Podcasting (and motherhood) was a result of meeting and marrying my husband in 2013. Griffin’s a podcaster that has been in the game for years. He recommended we start Rose Buddies after we exchanged regular quips while watching TV at home and with friends. Luckily, he had all the equipment and skills to get us up and running.
  • Are you getting paid doing what you love? Yes! It took me about eight years after completing my Bachelors degree, but I found my career(s) of choice!
  • Current projects: A podcast called WONDERFUL! and my nine month old son Henry. It’s a podcast for enthusiasts that love to hear about the passions, big and small, of other people. We’ll be talking about things we love each week and inviting listeners to write in with things they love. Topics may include movies, television, sports, books, drinks, eats, animals, methods of transportation, cooking implements, types of clothing, places in the world, imaginary places, fictional characters, and fonts to name a few. You can find it on the Maximum Fun network. Henry is an eight month old baby that is doing everything in his power to avoid moving himself. You can find him mostly on his stomach or back.
  • What are you reading/watching/listening to? Thanks to the baby, I don’t do a lot of reading these days. But I definitely do a lot of watching (the Nest cam) and listening (to the baby monitor). Seriously though, my biggest creative undertaking is listening to podcasts. Wonderful! is on the Maximum Fun network and I listen to a ton of shows there (and not just those created by my podcasting McElroy family). I’d recommend The Turnaround for those that like to hear individuals talk about their craft (in this case the craft is interviewing).
  • How do you express yourself creatively? When I started out as a creative person, my focus was on writing poetry and short fiction. After graduate school, I got a little burnt out and found it difficult to generate new work. Lately, it’s been easier for me to react to the work of others. I’m hoping to return to short fiction soon.
  • Have you ever written a fan letter? The ones that sticks out are the fan letters I wrote in elementary school to Fred Savage and Chelsea Clinton. Fred never wrote back, but I did get a nice letter from the White House telling me that Chelsea was very busy. It was signed by President Bill Clinton.
  •  Drink of choice? Anything Izze or San Pellegrino (non alcoholic) or Tito’s vodka and lemonade or ginger beer.
  • Who inspires you and why? My husband. Griffin is a tireless creator. He is constantly making new, original video and podcast content. He is funny in a way that lifts people up, which is rare and comes through in everything he does. His dedication to perfection and originality is awesome.
  • Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…) I’m currently working part-time as a grant writer which has Henry in daycare a few days a week. While I’m at work, my life is Google calendar. While I’m at home, I have a literal dry erase calendar on the fridge. My mom always had one on our fridge growing up and I can’t break that habit. It helps for me to see the whole month at once.
  • What is something you have learned this year? Everything is terrible until it isn’t. That sounds simple, but it helps me when I’m struggling. It’s a less elegant way of saying “this too shall pass.” Oh and the other piece of advice is: pee first. I learned this after a few months with a baby. He’d wake up or start crying and I’d drop what I was doing and run to him only to pick him up and realize I had to use the bathroom. Pee first. That’s good advice for parenting, but probably for life too.
  • What can people do to make the world a better place? Recognize that everyone is vulnerable and no one is purely good or evil. Most of the time, people are trying their best to do right for the people they love.
  • Where can people find you? @rachelcmcelroy on twitter. WONDERFUL! Podcast downloads here.
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