About Meghan and The Unspeakable

Who Am I? What Is This?

If you’ve gotten this far, chances are you know me at least a little. (Scroll to the bottom of this page for a brief biography.) I’m a writer, a podcaster, teacher and, most recently, founder of a new enterprise called The Unspeakeasy. This Substack will bring all of these efforts under (mostly) one umbrella and allow you to keep you with what I’m doing.

Here’s a rundown on what I’m doing.

The Unspeakable Podcast is the interview show I launched in the summer of 2020 — otherwise known as the Summer of Podcasts. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to see some listener ratings and reviews.). It features free-ranging, candid, Nuanced AF™ conversations with all kinds of fascinating people. The podcast will still be free and available on your regular podcast apps like aways, but this Substack page is now the way to support it and become part of the community.

A Special Place In Hell, my podcast with Sarah Haider, launched in June of 2022, looks at culture and society through the lens of our twenty year age difference. It’s also been likened to an “after party for The Unspeakable” but it’s very much it’s own thing. A Special Place In Hell has its own Substack page, which is wholly separate from this one, as well as a YouTube channel.

The Unspeakeasy is a community for freethinking women that offers in-person retreats as well as an online community. Since the fall of 2022 we’ve done five retreats in different areas of the U.S. and at least two more are planned for this year. Our online community, which you can read more about here, is also thriving and growing. The Unspeakeasy has its own online space and mailing list and is wholly separate from Substack. But I’ll keep you updated on our progress, including information about our “sanity spa vacations” retreats, right here.

Writing courses: I periodically teach private writing workshops in personal essay, memoir, and opinion writing, mostly on Zoom (they used to be in my apartment in NYC; those were the days)! I’ll keep you posted about those courses here so you’ll never miss an announcement.

My own writing, including new personal essays. If you’ve only discovered me in the last few years you might not realize that all the opining, podcasting, teaching, and, lately, bellyaching about free speech only came about because I built a career on personal essays. I haven’t done that kind of writing in awhile, but it’s time I got back to it. Sharing such work requires a lot of vulnerability and trust on my part, and you’ll have the chance to become one of my early readers.

Want to get in on all of this? Here are the ways you can do that by supporting me here.

Free Subscriber

  • As a free subscriber you will receive periodic updates about what I’m doing. That includes writing classes, public vents, the latest about The Unspeakeasy and links to things I publish here and elsewhere. Periodically I will publish a piece of new writing on the page for free and, as a subscriber, you’ll know about it before it goes mega-viral on Twitter. You’ll also be able to access the entire catalog of Unspeakable episodes right there on the Substack page.

Monthly Subscriber $7/month

  • Nearly every week, I offer pretty substantial bonus content on the podcast, which you can only access if you’re a paying subscriber at this level or higher. I say “substantial” because it’s not random outtakes or random goofing off. It’s a continuation of the conversation wherein the guest speaks more casually and personally than in the main interview. Some people think it’s the best part of the interview. You’ll also get to hear this premium version early—usually the Friday or Saturday before the main version drops—on a private RSS feed.

  • Commenting privileges. As a paid subscriber, you can participate in comment threads about the podcast or anything else I post. This is fun because the commenters are really smart and interesting.

  • All sorts of Unspeakable extras, including discounts on Nuanced AF merchandise, access to premium versions of the podcast and the ability to leave comments.

  • Now here’s where you really get your money’s worth. You’ll get everything mentioned above, plus regular new writing from me. This is big. And we’re not talking about hot takes or quirky jeremiads about the culture wars. I’m going to go back to my roots and write personal essays. I’m going to write about what my life is like in this particular moment in time, how I feel about the past, and what I both hope for and fear for the future. Maybe this will become part of a book someday and maybe it won’t. But they will amount to early drafts of the next phase of my writing life, and you’ll be the first to read it. I might even release some on audio.

Founding Member $200/year

  • For this, you mainly get my undying and awestruck gratitude. Aside from that, you get all the regular paid podcast perks plus the chance to join regularly-scheduled monthly Zoom hangouts with me. I’ll meet with all of you for about two hours once a month and we’ll discuss recent episodes of the Unspeakable podcast. Occasionally a guest might join us, but more than occasionally you’ll get cameo appearances or barkerruptions from my Newfoundland dog, Hugo.

By the way . . .

If you are a paid subscriber to A Special Place In Hell, my new podcast with Sarah Haider and are thinking “but I just paid for a whole new podcast why do I have to pay for this one, too?” I hear you. Substack is working on some bundling options to address this very scenario, but they’re just not there yet. So for now, email me and we’ll figure something out.

All of this is a reader/listener supported endeavor. To get the full experience, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

A few further thoughts

I started publishing my writing nearly thirty years ago. I never wanted to be anything other than a writer. What drove me was my urge to give voice and bring meaning to ideas and stories that don’t lend themselves to easy interpretations. If something was difficult or scary to think about, that was what I wanted to delve into. I succeeded as a writer because, back then, saying the difficult or scary thing was exactly the job description of a writer. Not everyone loved what I was doing (not even close). But a critical mass of readers appreciated what I was doing, even if didn’t always agree with me. Put simply, they got what I was trying to do. In turn, they got more out of the reading experience than if I’d avoided the difficult stuff. It was a beautiful relationship.

If thirty years ago, even ten years ago, you’d told me that this relationship would all but crumble someday, I would have said that was impossible. Moreover, if you had told me that a time would come when wanting to engage with uncomfortable ideas was, in many circles, the opposite of a writer’s job, I would have told you that was unthinkable.

As we know now, anything is possible. Even and maybe especially the unthinkable.

Which brings me back to why I’m writing on this platform. Despite all the noise, it’s clear that there are still lots of people who want writers to do their jobs. If you’re receiving this email, it’s because I think you might be one of those people for me. If that’s the case, I hope you’ll join me in anyway that makes sense for you.

Here’s a little about me (in the third person).

Meghan Daum is the creator and host of The Unspeakable Podcast and the author of six books, most recently The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through The New Culture Wars, a New York Times Notable Book for 2019.  Her collection of original essays, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, won the 2015 Pen Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. A Los Angeles Times opinion columnist from 2005 to 2016, she has written for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue. Meghan is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts grant. She has taught graduate writing students at Columbia University and The University of Iowa and now teaches private workshops in personal essay, memoir and op-ed. Her latest projects include a new podcast, A Special Place In Hell, which she co-hosts with Sarah Haider and startup venture, The Unspeakeasy, an intellectual community for freethinking women.

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Meghan Daum 

Meghan Daum is the host of The Unspeakable Podcast and the author of several books, most recently The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through The New Culture Wars. She also co-hosts, with Sarah Haider, the podcast A Special Place In Hell.