“Quiet on the set!”

Yes, they really do say that. At least, they did last Sunday when I was in St. Paul for a taping of the show, “It’s a Woman’s World” for SPNN – the St. Paul Neighborhood Network.

But they – meaning the producer of the show – said it just once, when two of the people in the room were having a whispered conversation on the side and didn’t realize that an individual recording of one of the show’s participants was about to begin.

The episode being taped was of a writers’ panel consisting of the host and three guests, all of whom were writers in different genres, and with different backgrounds. One of them was a writer and editor who’s just published her first novel. One of them was a publishing house vice president who has just published a book on self-publishing. And one of them was me.

We spent about fifteen minutes – although it went quickly and seemed like a lot less time than that – discussing the creative writing process and some of our thoughts and feelings about writing. Then we were each recorded reading a five-minute excerpt from our recent work. The other two read a segment of the books they had just published. I read one of my recent columns. The show will probably air in about a month. I’ll announce the schedule as soon as I know it, for those readers who are in the local viewing area and might want to watch it.

I was interviewed for a cable television show once before, but this is still a new experience for me – and I enjoyed every minute of it, in spite of being a little nervous about the whole thing. I felt honored to be on the panel, and I was fascinated to observe the process – watching the crew set up camera angles and test the equipment, chatting with them and with the
other participants and the host of the show before taping began, and watching from the sidelines while the other two participants were doing their individual readings.

It was eye-opening to see how hard everyone was working to make the interviewing process look so easy-going and natural, and it was reassuring to see how much care they took to make us look good on camera. The host and crew carefully went through all the details with us, and gave us a reassuring and encouraging pep talk before the cameras started rolling. Then the producer added a few comments that led us into what felt like a casual conversation among friends, about work that we have in common and that we all love. Before we knew it, all of the recording was finished, and the crew – silent during the taping – turned into our own personal cheering squad, telling us how well we had all done on camera. I felt like a star, and I’m sure the other two guests did, too.

As I was driving home from the studio, my mind wandered to the political ads that were still inundating the airwaves last weekend, and to things like tabloid headlines and the tapes and photographs that are secretly-recorded and illegally acquired. Almost without exception, they are designed to make people look bad – to catch someone in a compromising position, to quote them  out of context, and to lead or mislead the public in such a way that manipulates them into thinking a certain way or making a certain decision.  Much as we complain about negative ads and smear campaigns, they are still the ones that capture our attention, and often the ones that influence us the most. They scream the loudest, and they’re the hardest to ignore.

That’s why I was so grateful to take part in the other kind of media, the kind that’s supportive and respectful, and that works to highlight people’s accomplishments and show them at their best instead of at their worst. I think that if all of us were to pay more attention to the positive, rather than negative, activities, events and people that are all around us, our
communities, our country, and the entire world would be in much better shape than they are today.

It’s difficult to cut through the noise and negativity that constantly surround and assault us today. But it’s worth the effort to do so, because it’s usually the quieter voices that are the ones worth listening to.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on November 8, 2012.
©Betty Liedtke, 2012

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