This Podcast Needs a Title

The One with John Cosgrove

May 18, 2021 Peter Malone Elliott & Erica Davis Season 1 Episode 2
The One with John Cosgrove
This Podcast Needs a Title
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This Podcast Needs a Title
The One with John Cosgrove
May 18, 2021 Season 1 Episode 2
Peter Malone Elliott & Erica Davis

In the second episode of This Podcast Needs a Title, Peter and Erica chat with the winner of the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished competition, John Cosgrove, about how he copes with grief, rejection, and why he gets into very cold water, everyday. Come for the author insights, stay for the new Accountability Goals theme song. Plus a few good swears.

Show Notes Transcript

In the second episode of This Podcast Needs a Title, Peter and Erica chat with the winner of the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished competition, John Cosgrove, about how he copes with grief, rejection, and why he gets into very cold water, everyday. Come for the author insights, stay for the new Accountability Goals theme song. Plus a few good swears.


Peter Malone Elliott  00:00

Hey everyone, welcome to this podcast needs a title. I'm Peter Malone, Elliot.


Erica Davis  00:05

And I'm Erica Davis. And this is real talk about writing, publishing and everything in between. How you doing, Peter?


Peter Malone Elliott  00:11

I'm doing okay. Yeah, I'm getting ready for my move. I signed a lease in Brooklyn. So that's that's exciting. Yeah. Yeah. Congratulations. Thank you. Thank you just cue the confetti music. Boom. 


Erica Davis  00:25

I am getting ready for a short road trip tomorrow. And that's clouding my happiness right now. I'm just a horrible traveler. Unlike our upcoming guests in a minute. I'm I'm a really bad traveler, just anxious. I I love being home. I love it. I just love it. I would stay at home forever. And not so much because I'm a recluse. But I'm getting there. One day, fingers crossed. Yeah. But that's it. For a segment of our show, ready for second segment, I suppose. Yeah. How did we do on our accountability goals from last time? Ready? All right. I heard from Hetal. I reached out to her. And if you guys remember, her goal was "I need to be 50%. At least with the edits I owe Tara," her new literary agent. And listeners we heard back from Hetal. And she says I quote, "I'm actually ahead of the game. I'm 66% complete...". Wait, I'm not done with her quote. The end of it was "Woot. Woot." And to quote was there was there was it Whoo. Period. Whoops. No, it was via slack. So let me check my spreadsheet. I wrote that to the first episode. Woot. Woot is note just two words, sentence case with an exclamation point.


Peter Malone Elliott  01:45

Alright. We should we should have a separate podcast and punctuation I think. 


Erica Davis  01:48



Peter Malone Elliott  01:48

It's important. But... 


Erica Davis  01:48



Peter Malone Elliott  01:49

No. Well, thanks for shutting down my dreams, Erica.


Erica Davis  01:52

Well, no, it's just my nightmare.


Peter Malone Elliott  01:53

Oh, okay.


Erica Davis  01:54

Speaking of


Peter Malone Elliott  01:55

Yeah, Erica, I know that your accountability...


Erica Davis  02:00

It's not such... Well, it's kind of it's a good nightmare. I, I reached my goal. My goal was, I believe, to have a fleshy outline done for my current work in progress. This young adult horror eldritch adjacent kind of thing, right. And I did it I actually fleshed out a new outline now that I know what the the literal internal motivations like the childhood trauma stuff that's driving all of this nice far for the main two main characters. So awesome. Actually, I want to say the only reason I accomplish it was so I could report positively back on this. So you guys, listen and work really hard. Find your find an accountability, buddy. Because, holy cow, that guilt is going to get you there. Yeah, at the thing of guilt. disappointing me. 


Peter Malone Elliott  02:45

I did not hit my goals. So I'm just really just pooping on this. Gosh,


Erica Davis  02:50

that's okay. How far did you get? What was your goal? 


Peter Malone Elliott  02:52

And well, so I had two goals. If you remember, I, my first goal was to get to exactly the halfway point of my novel. I'm not quite there yet. I'm very, very close, but I'm not quite there yet. I this all the moving stuff that I'm dealing with is kind of delayed me a little bit. And then the other goal I had was to get started on the whole website stuff. I'm getting there. I bought a domain name. Oh, my gosh, draft of the page. It looks terrible. But it's a drag there. Yo, you know, I'm like I did all right. But I didn't hit it, you know, on the nose. So here's,


Erica Davis  03:25

Here's the trick, though, buddy. You had two goals. True that partway down with one and all the way down with the other. All you need to do is sort of start your website. That was if I'm not mistaken. So you have 100% of your goal done so stop whining.


Peter Malone Elliott  03:41

Okay, great. Erica, can you be my life coach, please?


Erica Davis  03:44

I'd rather talk about punctuation. Okay. Meanwhile, let's get john Cosgrove in here, please. Because I cannot wait to talk to this guy.


Peter Malone Elliott  03:52

Yeah, me neither. So john was the grand prize winner of the outsider category in the 2020 book pipeline, unpublished contest with his debut novel The black space behind our eyes. This coming of age experimental story follows a young atheist on a road trip from Los Angeles to the Amazon rain forest as he attempts to better understand the nature of death after the tragic passing of his best friend. Believe it or not, this novel is based on John's own personal experiences and man Oh, man, are we so glad to have him join us? JOHN? Welcome.


John Cosgrove  04:23

Jada payday. kiona. Erica, how are you? Good. 


Erica Davis  04:27

How's it going in New Zealand,


John Cosgrove  04:28

Really, really good. We we actually just had a 50,000 person concert without masks, because there's not any cases of COVID in the country at the moment. Supposedly, it's meant to be the biggest event since the pandemic started. So we're incredibly lucky and we respect that. And as we respect that, our thoughts go out to the rest of the world and we were seeing you we hear you... It looks tough out there. At the moment. 


Peter Malone Elliott  05:01



Erica Davis  05:01

Awesome. Thank you.


Peter Malone Elliott  05:02

Geez a 50,000 person contract I don't even know Yeah, something like that would look like. So she's one on cheerier note we're all three of us are drinking a little something as we record this podcast. I've got Yeah, I've got a lot somewhere. Five o'clock somewhere five o'clock here it's five o'clock here and I don't know what time it is.


John Cosgrove  05:21

We won't discuss the time when's a time. But


Peter Malone Elliott  05:27

I've got a nice bourbon going on. John, what do you got your cup there?


John Cosgrove  05:31

I have right here a scotch and od big from the isle of IRA and Oh, yeah. Oh, wow.


Erica Davis  05:40

Well, I am a lightweight so gentlemen, I'm honored to tell you that I have a FeverTree ginger beer, which tickles my nose and I'm about to open it so please hold...


Peter Malone Elliott  05:49

Yes. Oh, that Nah. 


John Cosgrove  05:52

Refreshing sound


Erica Davis  05:53

Oh, good. So hey, cheers to good. podcast, friends. Here we go. Good. Show clink. Oh,


Peter Malone Elliott  06:04

man, that ginger beer. Heavy going down.


John Cosgrove  06:08



Erica Davis  06:10

I'm alright. So if any of you have never tried ginger beer, please pause your podcast. Go buy some. I'll pay for it. I won't. I won't pay for it. Don't do that.. .


Peter Malone Elliott  06:18

No, it's true. It's true. 


Erica Davis  06:19

So maybe Matt will pay for it.


Peter Malone Elliott  06:20

Yeah, then.


Erica Davis  06:23

But if you've never had it, that's what it does it to me every time so that's enough about my ginger beer.


Peter Malone Elliott  06:29

Yeah. So So john, just let's let's just get into it. So your novel, The the black space behind our eyes. I mean, it's it is one of the most wild well written things I've read in a long time. And it's just such a fascinating, unique story. Can you tell us a little bit about it? The Genesis why you wrote it?


John Cosgrove  06:49

Yeah, for sure. Um, so the the purpose behind the novel came about around about 10 years ago, after a close friend passed away at the age of 24. He drowned actually in a shallow water blackout while spearfishing. And what really hit hard for all this family and friends was that he was an incredibly special person. He was a, it was a doctor and training. It was a male model all over the world went to Japan and Europe. He was involved in charities to help children and low socio economic schools. Wow. Best surfer I knew this water man I knew in just a truly deeply kind and compassionate, compassionate person. Yeah. And so as a consequence of that, we call them nobody because nobody's perfect, then he was pretty damn close. So he was he was one of those people. That when they passed, not just because because of his age, there, it was hard to find a purpose and his passing. And why someone that would have given so much to the world was taken from us. So that had a huge impact. And then as fate would have it on the same year as his death, I had three other friends diagnosed with various forms of cancer, one of which I was living with at the time. And once again, all incredible young men and the early to mid 20s. healthy and first and strong at the time, the diagnosis. Um, so yeah, it was a heavy year. Yeah, I think about a lot to process. And as you said, as I was an atheist at the time, so it kind of forced me to stare death in the face, which I hadn't counted on needing to do for quite a few decades to come. At the time, I truly believe that death and sickness were inconveniences for old people. And it was through these events that I realized I was wrong. And inevitably, I started to think these these things are happening to my closest friends. At some point, they're going to happen to me to and from that, I don't think there's much going back from a thought like that, once you think a thought like that. You lose your innocence a little bit. Sure. And in my opinion, it's an ancient thought. I think it's probably as old as humanity itself. And that is weird. The book started from his thinking that thought that one day this will happen to me, that's what happens to those closest to me. And what does that mean? And so, obviously, that brings up a lot of fear when when we start to think about something like that it did for me anyway. Yeah. And rather than kind of dwelling in that fear, I decided to dive headfirst into it. And so I I was the owner of a healthcare business in New Zealand at the time, and I put prices Just in place to allow me to buy a one way ticket from New Zealand to Los Angeles and travel south to the Amazon rainforest to ask as many people as I could along the way, what this means to them and try and get an understanding of what it is through other cultures around the world. And basically, I just turned into a yes man for about three months and took every opportunity I could to dive as deep as I could into the the concept of death. Yeah, yeah, that's, that's where it started. 


Peter Malone Elliott  10:34

Wow. It's just, I think I told you this when we were talking initially ages, like I when I read, you know, 1000s of these submissions for the contest. And when I came across yours, I started flipping through it. And I was like, there's Come on. What? No, there's no way this is true, what not, and it just kept happening as I got deeper and deeper and deeper. And it's just so engaging, and so compelling. It's .... And he's such an easy decision to make you the winner. You know, 


John Cosgrove  11:02

thank you so much. 


Erica Davis  11:03

Question is the is the book in question here? Is it autobiographical? Is that memoir, or nonfiction?


John Cosgrove  11:10

based on a true story, and I actually fictionalized a lot, because I wrote everything out as it happens to begin with, and that clocked in at about 250,000 words. Long, but it was not exactly marketable. So and none of it was believable. The things that happen on the church was so out the gate that I as I wrote it, I just kind of thought that no one's going to believe.


Erica Davis  11:43

I'm sorry, I can already hear our listeners asking this in their head right now, because I just did, like, what? Can you just just give us one example of something that we wouldn't have believed that got cut from the novel? If you're comfortable. True or dare?


John Cosgrove  11:56

 Okay, one, one thing is I met my wife on the trip. They're currently in the next room right now. I mean, that to me was unbelievable at the time. But beyond that, I mean, I went from being an atheist to, I mean, not the polar opposite. I, I'm very open minded now. But I definitely was humbled in my atheism. Wow. Yeah. So I'd consider myself now more of a gnostic. Where I do believe that we can have similar experiences to bring us to a deeper understanding of this. And, and I think it's a very therapeutic and worthwhile process that I'd encourage any humans who go through however they see fit. But um, yeah, no, I mean, I could speak all day about the the experiences that I couldn't explain. And, and yeah, so basically, when I fictionalized, the entire manuscript, down to something that would be believable, it clocked in at 87,000 words, so yeah, a lot more marketable. A lot more. Right. Something that you can, you can almost pop in your pocket. So yeah, that that that work. Yeah. And I think the 250,000 words, were for me, the 87,000 words for for the reader. And so yeah, that was a nice, it was almost like a diary, I was able to get it all out. And then once it was out, I could kind of pick and choose and decide what to fictionalize. And basically how I chose what to fictionalize, is I didn't want to preach to the choir, I didn't want to preach to a spiritual crowd, I wanted to preach to people like myself that were in a nine to five, barely had the time to think about these kinds of things. And when I had a spare moment, maybe by reading this book, they can come to a place of acceptance around it, which is what I was searching for at the time as well.


Peter Malone Elliott  14:02

Yeah. Awesome. So I mean, kind of going off of what you just said. I mean, it seems like you had the mechanism to recognize that you needed to edit. You know, a lot of writers, I feel like they, they they think they write out a first draft and think, Oh, this is brilliant. And they send it out and people go, Oh, yeah, you need to fix this, this this, but it sounds like you kind of already had that, you know, mechanism built in? Was that something that came naturally because this is this is the first thing that you've written, right?


John Cosgrove  14:30

Yeah, yeah. That's the first thing that I've written. So the first thing that I've committed to finishing I've always kind of dabbled around with writing things here and there. But yeah, this was the first big project that I'd ever committed to. And yeah, the the process of kind of figuring out how to edit I ran through maybe I want to say about five times through the entire manuscript myself. Then I actually hired an editor in California through Upwork, I think it was okay. And while I was I was actually traveling with my wife at the time, we traveled for about a year and a half after we got married. And that's when I finished the book. And so that was quite cool as well, I got to revisit a lot of the places that I've written about initially, yeah. And kind of, as I'm editing, as I'm going through that whole process, I was in some of the same places as I was doing that. So it was really neat to kind of add layer and color on top of what the first draft was. And then once I've done that, I went to a professional editor. And he trimmed it a bit came back to me with some things. And it was a couple more edits after that before I started the submission process.


Peter Malone Elliott  15:51

So the submission process, so obviously, I'm biased. I mean, I'm glad that you entered our contest. But did you enter any other contests? What was kind of the submission process? And what did you do when you found out that you want?


John Cosgrove  16:03

I yeah, so I did enter not with my manuscript, I entered a travel writing contest and with World nomads, I think it was and that I was a finalist then. And also, I was pretty, pretty disheartened when I when nothing came of it. I mean, I should have been really happy that I was a finalist. But you guys can relate that close. And something doesn't eventually they can be kind of tough. Yeah. But yeah, after after submitting to a bunch of agents and publishers throughout the states, I found the book pipeline contest. And I entered and full disclosure, I actually completely forgot that I entered the concept was so sick of rejections at the stage that I entered the contest. And I just said, like, you know what, I'm just hanging up the towel for a little while. And let's see what happens out of this contest. And then I'll kind of recheck things after that, maybe polish up my submission package and go from there. Yeah. And, yeah, when I, when I found out that I was a finalist, I was I was very late at night in New Zealand. I was at home with my wife and one of my closest friends was visiting us for the weekend. And we were we were feeling married. We were


Peter Malone Elliott  17:30

he was drunk.


John Cosgrove  17:33

We're having a good time. And we were discussing live music or lack thereof it in this day and age and, and I remembered I bought a ticket to an American band who meant to be coming to New Zealand in a few months. And I figured, yeah, COVID going on, they're probably not going to be coming. So I checked my emails to see if there's any info on the cancellation. And, and my emails was an email. I think it was from a the I think it was from that might have been, I think it was Matt from that. And he said that I was in the finals for this competition that I completely forgotten about. And after months of just close calls and rejections with agents and publishers and other competitions. I honestly, it felt like a moment of absolute grace for me just as like a weight had been taken off my shoulders. Just vindication that like, Okay, I've got something here that's made an impact. And maybe the story might be heard after all. And with that one email, just all the doubts all the voices in the back of your head that tell you that everything that you worked for my eventuates and nothing, all of it just melted away. And I entered this kind of buffer mode, where my brain just started glitching. And I couldn't I couldn't even communicate anymore. All I could say was, oh my God, oh my God. Oh, my God. My wife's, my wife's like, oh, Obama that canceled the concert. And I couldn't tell her what was going on. Because all I could get out was was oh my god. So she eventually just grabbed my laptop off me. And then she read the email. And then she started buffering too. And oh, my god, oh my god. And so eventually, my mate had to grab the email and see what we were arranging about. And she started glitching out as well. So it was a wonderful moment. It was and I mean, you know, a few guys that book pipeline, that you the fact that you're giving those moments to people, you're doing a great thing that was truly special.


Peter Malone Elliott  19:57

Oh, thank you. Thank you. Have you ever to start crying?


Erica Davis  20:01

I never thought this is a safe crying space. We did learn that in our zero episode. Yeah,absolutely. 


John Cosgrove  20:08

After enough of this scotch, I might, I might join. You're


Erica Davis  20:11

done. That's fair. That's fair. You mentioned a little bit already about all the rejections all the rejections and I'm getting a sense that you have more to say about that. Like, how much rejection could you have possibly faced? You won a contest.


John Cosgrove  20:25

Yeah, I think it's just part of the industry, especially when you're a debut writer who hasn't, you know, got a literary degree, I've got a degree in health science, which doesn't exactly help with the submission process. So yeah, it was kind of tough, you know, writing writing a cover letter and saying, you know, I run a healthcare business, and it doesn't give you a whole lot of credence. So. Yeah, they, they came in second part. And actually, to be fair, when I went into the submission process, I decided, when I approach an agency to go for the top dog, every agency, which didn't help my case,


Erica Davis  21:10

I don't know. Thats...That's a tactic Some people use. 


John Cosgrove  21:14

I mean, yeah, so I just went straight from top dog, I figured I can I can go for everyone else. If they reject me and reject me, they did. But it doesn't make it any easier. Honestly, damn near broke me. And I don't consider myself a person that breaks easily. And the fact that it's such a massive part of the industry, and it doesn't get talked about too much. I mean, it gets talked about, but it almost feels like it's, this is part of it, you'll be alright, pick yourself up and carry on. Yeah. But I'd challenge that I'd encourage you know, any, any writer, new writer listening, who's currently struggling in those submission trenches, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter and direct message, I'd be happy to talk to people about it, I think there does need to be more support and some way around it. I don't know what that looks like. But it's a tough process. You pour your heart into these things, right? You guys know that. That's your baby. And yeah, just straight up hurts when you get those rejections. But what I, what I found through the process was that, you know, failure is just crucial and critical to success. And it teaches you to look at yourself and, and your work. And you kind of get to two options there. You either change your tech or you do something new. You re educate yourself. You make your manuscript better if you work on your first chapter or your work on your submission package. And that's what I did. I actually did a four week online course with a group called authors publish. And, and they helped me kind of refine my submission package, and to what it is today, and they actually cut out the first chapter. So the chapter that you guys read, that I submitted really sad. They can chat. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah, it was, it was tomato when she when Emily ha Stein, who runs authors publish, said, john, I think you need to cut this first chapter. She said, it seems like it was written for you, not for the reader. Like you're trying to clarify why you're going on this trip where the reader just wants to jump into the sea, get on the plane and go. And so that's where the first chapter starts now, but that was the start of the second chapter. It just kind of sprinkled through the rest of it.


Peter Malone Elliott  23:57

So john, I mean, thanks for talking about that. I mean, it's rejection I feel like it's such an under talked about thing about being creative, professional. I mean, it's, it's hard to, you know, a lot of people just say, well just shrug it off, keep going. It's like, Well, yeah, you can but I mean, it's it's easier said than done, right? I mean, it's it's one of those things as an artist, you have to take care of yourself in order to be able to withstand that is is so like, what do you do outside of writing, you know, in terms of self care and living your life and whatnot that helps you deal with that rejection?


John Cosgrove  24:29

No, I totally understand what you're saying. I mean, if you'd asked me 10 years ago, about self care for creatives, I honestly would have been one of those guys that probably laughed at you. But I absolutely through this process. Absolutely. 100% believe in self care for creative professionals now. In fact, I believe in self care for any type of professional obviously, sure. But yes, what I've what I've done is I threw a lot of things in my life. I Take a harm minimization approach to self care. So, especially while writing about topics such as death. So, harm minimization is looking a lot more at taking care of potential issues before they become real issues. And basically being the fence at the top of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom. Oh, so yeah, yeah, that's super important. I mean, otherwise, we just, we just picking up pieces, which is it can happen. And sometimes, you know, some of those pieces will slip through the cracks, of course. But for me, self care looks a lot like daily set of practices and rituals, to make sure that I can try to get into a flow state as much as possible with writing. And, and just make sure that my mind is, especially with the subject matter of this book, that my mind is as healthy as possible throughout the process, because it definitely was not an easy topic to write about. So some of these, some of these practices that I do on a daily basis, I move I need to exercise on a daily basis. I take time to feel grateful for three things. I take time to visualize three things. I get into cold water, which is a weird one. But I yeah, that's that is it's the weirdest one. Yeah,


Erica Davis  26:38

let's talk about that. Right now. I'm really curious. Why cold? Why cold? And why cold?


John Cosgrove  26:48

Yeah, I actually was in cold water before this podcast today. So yeah, so I've done it for about five years now. And I absolutely swear by it. I learned about this from a guy named Wim Hof, who I think he's from the Netherlands. And he, he was a guy, he's actually broken 21 world records for cold immersion. Now. He's put together an online course, where he helps to guide people through getting comfortable with code. But what specifically what it does for me, and I mean, at the moment, it's a matter of tuning the shower to cold before I get in, and then walking into the cold water in the shower. Or where my wife and I live, we've got a river that runs through the valley here. And it's it's pretty cold at the moment, it's getting cold here. It's warming up in the north, but getting colder in the southern hemisphere. Right? And just walking into the river and taking time to slow down your breathing and becoming comfortable in the cold.


Erica Davis  27:51



John Cosgrove  27:52

what it does, it's got a whole lot of physical benefits, but I'm not so interested in that what it does for me in terms of mental benefits, is it it's not something I want to do, I'd much rather be in a hot shower. Yeah, but when you get into that cold shower, it's if you do it first thing in the morning, it forces your brain to do something that it's screaming at you not to do and you kind of take control of the situation. Yeah, it's and it's a weird thing. Because, you know, as I'm sure all of us know, there's there's those two kind of conflicting voices in your head where one saying, Hey, this is good for you. And the other part saying, Yeah, but I don't want to do it. And so starting my day with with that code kind of sets the pace for the rest of the day, and especially with writing, getting into cold water. First thing, it, it has a great impact on my writing, I find it's one of the kind of parts of recipe or formula to tap me into a flow state because I've taken control of my mind first.


Erica Davis  28:59

How long do your flow states last after these, the cold immersion and you're in a good writing state?


John Cosgrove  29:04

That's a based I cannot pin down. I mean, someday it's the closest I can get as these formulas that sometimes work but often don't. And yeah, that flow state, I cannot pin it down. Effort finds me. It might last for an hour, maybe two hours, which pass and what feels like 10 minutes. Yeah, that's just boom, and you've got more words than you you've had for the last week. But it's so hard to come down. And that's everything that I do. All these things that I do is trying to replicate the days where I've tapped into that state, but it's a hard thing. I don't know about you guys, but when it counts, it counts and when it doesn't, it doesn't.


Peter Malone Elliott  29:52

Yeah. Yeah. For me, it's always about in the moments where it's not coming. You have to Okay, you have to figure out what else can I do? I can't just shove away from the table. It's like, well, it's not common you, how do you work through that and keep going through the mud and keeping productive? You know? 


John Cosgrove  30:09



Erica Davis  30:10

Yeah. That's amazing. That's cool. So I stopped you at the cold water piece. I apologize. Thank you for that tangent. But what were the other were still listing your daily routine? Or hey,


John Cosgrove  30:23

yeah, so the only other thing so exercise, I mean, that that is probably, I'd say the most important thing. If it's, I usually go surfing or run my dog or do some kind of bodyweight exercise, whatever. The gratitude, actually, all these things, everybody, the gratitude is, I sit down for about 10 minutes each day, and I spend that time just closing my eyes and feeling deep gratitude for three things in my life, and they change every day apart from my wife and my pets. That's that's always number one on the list. Awesome, super grateful. Yeah, that they're always number one. And then the other two will change. You know, today, it's I'm so grateful to be here with with you guys on this. Thank you. Okay, flowing into the visualization. I mean, I have literally for years and years and years, visualize this moment, I visualize what it would feel like to be on a podcast discussing my book, ah, absolute and, and this stuff seems to work. I mean, I'm here right now talking to you guys. Yeah. I literally every day has been visualizing this. In moments like this that would come up. The book went somewhere. So yeah, those three practices. I mean, you know, some days you don't feel like doing them. But if I just forced myself to do it, I feel only good comes from it. And only good writing comes from it. And then the other two things is yoga. And meditation. Meditation is a daily practice for me, I can I can skip yoga, but I can't skip meditation, I think that everyone has a different way of meditating. You know, for some people, it might be going for a walk. For others, it might be writing, I mean, writing is an incredible meditation, because all you're doing in a meditation is watching your thoughts. Try not to attach labels and narratives and emotions to those thoughts. So writing is actually a really great way to meditate. And, you know, we don't all have to be sitting in lotus position on a mountaintop. That's not that's not the point. But I think that is the perspective on meditation is, if you don't have a clear mind, you've failed, which is just so untrue, that the entire point is watching your brain watching your thoughts. And


Peter Malone Elliott  32:57

I like that, I like that a lot.


John Cosgrove  32:59

Yeah, it makes it a lot less stressful.


Peter Malone Elliott  33:01

I'm interested. So as as the winner of the outsider category, we introduce you to Lee Goldberg and fringe press. And I know you guys have been talking about going forward with your book. Can you talk a little bit about where that is? What what the status of that is and how that's affected? Your process going forward? and whatnot?


John Cosgrove  33:24

Yeah, absolutely. So speaking with Lee, after the introduction through Bob Pipeline, was a it was an awesome experience. Actually, we we spoke for about two hours and


Peter Malone Elliott  33:37

leads. Yeah, he's awesome, right guy? Yeah.


John Cosgrove  33:41

Yeah, it was it really felt like speaking to an old friend. And, and so, so incredible to have someone excited about about the book, someone that that, you know, lives in New York, and Kim has the means to publish it. It was an incredibly exciting conversation. And what he recommended to me what he wanted from the book, and what I left out, was flashbacks to the life of the main character before he went on the journey. So Lee was interested in the relationship between the friend that passed away, and the main character and how that relationship impacted the journey ahead. So he asked me to, to kind of sprinkle in some flashbacks throughout the novel. And, yeah, I had an incredible time doing that. And it was it really made the book pop. If there was something about that whole process that as I read back for it now, I needed that and needed to, it needed to have some kind of what's the word anchor? Yeah, just an anchor like a rate a reason, a purpose behind Otherwise you just kind of you're there, you're on the journey. But there's no kind of compass as to why this whole thing started in the first place. So yeah, it was great advice. And I've gotten those edits back to him now. And he is in the process. He just got a new business partner for his Prince Chris. And during the process of reading through and we're looking at a release in 20 2030, which is


Erica Davis  35:29

That's coming up quick. Congratulations. Yeah,


John Cosgrove  35:32

Yeah, yeah, thank you very much.


Peter Malone Elliott  35:34

I'm gonna I'm gonna when it comes out, I'm gonna buy all the copies in my bookstore and just hand them out to people on the street. read this book, 


John Cosgrove  35:44

 I'll probably do the same.


Erica Davis  35:46

slapping people in the face with the book. Look at how great this is! Hey, we got your your America street team covered, John. Yeah. Absolutely. In the midst of Peter's joy about your upcoming book release, which I share with him. I'm actually really curious. Have you ever wanted to stop writing? 


Peter Malone Elliott  36:04



John Cosgrove  36:05

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I actually I stopped writing all the time. Yeah, no, i and this is another thing like, the whole rejection thing where I know the antithesis of this, which everyone says, Hey, you got to be writing every day? You have to do it. Otherwise, you're just No, no. I go by the Charles Bukowski method of don't try. I actually I believe that the koski literally hits the woods. Don't try it engraved on his tombstone.


Peter Malone Elliott  36:43

Of course he does. That tracks. 


John Cosgrove  36:45

 Yeah. And or at least like I try not to try. Which gets a little complicated. But I think there's so much truth in those words, you know, Shakespeare said them to be or not to be. That is the question. The way I say it is to try or not to try, should we kind of force things into existence or allow them to come up organically and naturally. So if nothing comes to me, what I've found to be the best method for me is to let things be for a little while. And then that stillness and that Quiet, quiet, however long that takes, it can be hours might be days or weeks or months. But if I show respect to that quiet, and don't try to force something, eventually that flow state will reappear, and I call it I call it the little man on my shoulder. It's like, my shoulder, and he's whispering in my ear, and he tells me everything that I need to write. And it's effortless. Doesn't happen every day. So if it's not happening on a particular day, I just leave it there for a little while I focus on something else counts, it counts. And it might come while I'm driving. I've been driving down the road, I've had to like, pull over really quick. Right? And right and right. Like I said, I haven't found a recipe for it. It just pops up when it wants to. So yeah. Right when it flows through you.


Erica Davis  38:10

got it. So that's how you come back to it. It just comes back to you and then acknowledge it


John Cosgrove  38:16

turns out what he wants. Great.


Peter Malone Elliott  38:19

So I would I would love to ask I, we did a written interview on the book pipeline website in about a month and a half ago, I want to say and you mentioned a writing teacher that this is a few years ago back when you were starting the book, when you told him that you wanted to get the book published in New York, he essentially laughed at you and told you that was ridiculous, right? I mean, what what do you have to say to that guy now? And also what a dick, but what do you have to say?


John Cosgrove  38:48

It's actually a really nice guy. I mean, it was a great teacher and a really nice guy. All the harder when he laughed at me in front of the entire class. Because I yeah, I've confided in him and private via email. I really wanted to make it in New York. And, and I never heard back from him. He never replied to the email. He waited until I was in class in front of me. Yeah, that was a thick move. Yeah. That was a thick mode. Yeah, no, he waited. He waited until I was in the class and and he said, You know, I Kiwi to to make it as a writer in New York is the equivalent of winning an Olympic gold medal. Right? And so yeah, hey, love, the class laughed and I just kind of looked at him and said, I'll send you an email when when it happens. Honestly, if I can say anything to him right now, I'd say I'd say thank you because it is the best motivational speech I've ever heard in my life. I'm very, very grateful to this man. And I can't wait to send that email. I'm so close.


Erica Davis  40:10

Maybe Peter could slap on with your book.


Peter Malone Elliott  40:12

I'll slap that. Yeah, I'll get back.


Erica Davis  40:19

Pipeline sends their regards. That's incredible. Are you still in contact with this? Teacher? Professor?


John Cosgrove  40:29

No, but I will be. I will be in time. Yeah. Yeah.


Erica Davis  40:35

So will we.


John Cosgrove  40:38

I'll send on his details to you guys. 


Peter Malone Elliott  40:40

Please do. So. Something else that you've mentioned to us is that you've started working on a screenplay adaptation of black space. And I'm, that is so exciting. And can you talk a little bit about that? you're liking that. What? what's what's going on with that?


John Cosgrove  40:57

Yeah, I am loving it. I was lucky enough to have just met a, someone that I call a close friend now. But I just made a maybe a few weeks or a month or so before being asked to converted into a screenplay. And he is very much involved in the screenplay world in New Zealand, he's become somewhat of a mentor for me, throughout the process, and I have, I mean, as I was writing the entire book, I saw it as a movie in my head anyway. And I've really loved the kind of colloquialism. And it's a bit more laid back to write a screenplay than to write a novel, obviously. So I've enjoyed that. It's kind of like explaining the thoughts in my head to a friend. And the dialogue. So yeah, no, it's been it's been a lot of fun. And it's, it's making me really excited.


Peter Malone Elliott  41:54

Do you have a preference between writing screenplays and writing novels? Or are they both like, equally as awesome?


John Cosgrove  42:02

Yeah, yeah, good question. Um, I think I still enjoy writing novels, because well, well, we'll find out. Today, when it gets made into a movie, I guess that will be the moment that I decide whether which I like more sure.


Erica Davis  42:19

This is sort of touching on one of the few questions we had from our Twitter followers. Oh, yeah. Several of which you've already answered. So we won't do those. They've been answered in context. But this one that has gone unanswered so far, is how has your writing editing process changed since winning the pipeline, unpublished contest?


John Cosgrove  42:39

I think I, I think I've become a lot more laid back about writing. It's not there's not the world, I still write. I'm still writing a lot. But um, but there's not that kind of the same stress that I was feeling before where it's like, will this happen won't happen. That that can be kind of daunting when you're when you're writing something, and you have no idea if it's actually going to go anywhere. Sure. anyone will ever read it. Now, it's kind of got that feeling that I know people will read this eventually. And so that's a thought at the back of my head now. Yeah. Which is quite lovely. It's really nice. Knowing that, like, whatever I write now, will will get read. And, yeah, I really love that. It makes me more excited. But I'm also more relaxed about the whole process.


Erica Davis  43:38

That's awesome to hear..


John Cosgrove  43:39



Erica Davis  43:40

Peter. We've gotten through so many of our questions.


Peter Malone Elliott  43:42

No, I know, we, we...  Erica and I had like a bazillion questions for you. And we were like, okay, we need to cut some of these down. We're gonna go way over two hours, but we're crushing it. We're doing great. Oh, yeah. You know what the thing they're asking about the thing with the guy in the stock guy, right? Yeah. So John, you obviously live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. New Zealand has been on my bucket list for years and years and years and years. And you showed us pictures of like this just gorgeous, I think 25 acre estate that you live on? And apparently you're turning it into an eco retreat with your wife. You tell us about that. And when can we come? Also? 


John Cosgrove  44:17

Yeah, yeah. Oh, you guys are welcome. Anytime as soon as the world gets back to some form of normality. You guys have a home in New Zealand whenever you want. But yeah, no, but my actually my wife and I was meant to be on a journey from Southeast Asia to Africa right now. Ah, yeah. Which was going to be the biggest trip we've ever done together. But um, but yeah, obviously COVID put a pen in there. So same thing as the as what I did with the rejections you change your tact, you try something new. And so what we did is we went for another dream of ours which has always been to solder a tree and we worked out by Saw and ended up being able to purchase a 25 acre property on 25 acres of mostly native bush. Which we actually we just got a letter in the mail yesterday that told us from the government that we're in a special nature area, and we have to fill out this whole survey but we have Kiwi birds just coming out the wazoo here, which are an endangered animal and even before I talked to you guys, today, I got up when it was still dark. And there were two Kiwis calling just right outside the property a male and a female to each other with Yeah, is is super special and our entire purpose for this is to protect these animals to protect the virus and then eventually to welcome guests here to slow down for a bet and and get back tonight should get away from the cities for a weekend and and connect with themselves again, connect with themselves connect with nature connect to their loved ones. Yeah. And just be present.


Peter Malone Elliott  46:09

Awesome. Amazing. And it I think you mentioned like the entire place would be off the grid.


John Cosgrove  46:13

Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So right now we are off the grid. We run out. So we've got a three bedroom two bathroom house, but it's completely run off solar power. Yeah. Which is, which is awesome. Yeah, we powers free. And we collect rainwater as well. And yeah, but by Bert, I mean, I'm a like, I'm from the beach. Like, I'm a beach suburb boy, I am not used to this environment at all. But bit by bit. We're learning every day. There's so much to learn. We've got a lot of kind of pest control and New Zealand there's a lot of pests that are in danger, things like Kiwis. And so every day we have to try to kill the pests, which I'm not used to. It's a really weird thing. I mean, you know, I wrote a book about death. I didn't really think I'd be experiencing it every day traveling and shooting animals. But but but I'm getting I'm getting used to it. I don't like it, but I'm getting used to it a bit.


Erica Davis  47:18

Circle of Life.


John Cosgrove  47:20

Yeah, totally. 


Peter Malone Elliott  47:21

So Erica, I think I think now, I think we do a drumroll. 


Erica Davis  47:25

Final question. 


Peter Malone Elliott  47:27

Everybody shut the front door.


Erica Davis  47:29

I don't know why this excites me so much. But I need to know John, what are your preferred writing snacks?


John Cosgrove  47:36

So Erica, I'm going to apologize in advance because you're just going to hate my answer.


Erica Davis  47:43

E tu John?! You and Hetal? "I don't eat while I write!" Well, I write what Okay, I'm gonna mute myself I'm too...


John Cosgrove  47:53

I think everyone's different and you should be able to do whatever you want if you snack away, but I can't I for the last seven years or so I've been Have you guys heard of intermittent fasting? So I've done that for about seven years or so. Now it's kind of a household name at the time I was just weird. Like it was just straight out with my friends. But yeah, basically for me, it just means I fast for 16 hours a day and then I whatever I want within an eight hour window. So that kind of like when I'm riding it's usually within that window so I I don't eat anything at all but there's a few things I do allow myself within that kind of fasting window and one of them is coffee, but it has to be black coffee, and I get really creative with my coffees. I throw a whole lot of other plants and so and fungi, so I actually put into my coffee a mushroom called Lion's Mane mushroom so it says incredible mushroom that grows it's like a white shaggy mane when it grows and it grows throughout Asia and I mean you can it gives us incredible kind of clarity of mind and helps me a lot with creativity and then I also adding rocket cow which is what chocolates made out of so I do nice somewhat of some chocolate in there and yeah, so that like raw chocolate kind of has has a bit of a stimulant of being going against focus Yeah. And then the last thing I had in my coffee is maca root which is here that was in America but no Mecca. No maca root!


Erica Davis  49:45

I'm like, I've had macaroons. I love macaroons! Like the mint and the chocolate. A latte flavored one.


John Cosgrove  49:56

"John, you totally snack!"


Erica Davis  50:01

Maca root?


John Cosgrove  50:03

Maca... Yeah maca root? Yeah. So it's like a it's like a ground up powder that also put into the coffee. And once again, it kind of hopes that that helps with focus and creativity. So it's a it's a loaded coffee. Yeah, that easily post me through those sexy now,


Erica Davis  50:20

I was gonna say john that is a snack. 


Peter Malone Elliott  50:22

Yeah, really?


John Cosgrove  50:26

I might even have two or three of those back.


Erica Davis  50:29

Oh my god 


Peter Malone Elliott  50:29

there was there was a point where I had access my espresso machine I don't because I'm staying at my mother's house right now. But when I had access to my espresso machine, I would have three or four double espressos every day. And yeah, and let me tell you what I was keyed up to Mars. It was great.


John Cosgrove  50:47

You get things done!


Erica Davis  50:48

 Get it done!


John Cosgrove  50:51

You know what i was my best I have last month and my wife and our parents. Oh, got me an espresso machine. Yeah, nice. Yeah, I was down. You know, I was down to one cup of coffee a day. And that's out the window.


Erica Davis  51:06

And that's what happened. Yeah, we can guess. Oh my God, that's awesome. Thank you. I'm not mad that you and Hetal, that neither you nor Hetal, eat snacks while you're writing. It just makes sense that it got in the way the flow state and Hetal... If you're listening in john looked me in the face because I know you're listening too. I did try writing a writing session, like a week and a half ago without snacks. And I hit flow state. 


John Cosgrove  51:33



Peter Malone Elliott  51:33



Erica Davis  51:33

And it was a 15 minute writing session. But I looked at the clock--it was two and a half hours had gone by.


Peter Malone Elliott  51:39



John Cosgrove  51:40



Peter Malone Elliott  51:40



Erica Davis  51:40

Yeah. So I am no longer allowed to get upset with people who don't also eat or snack while they I snack while I eat too. Don't get me wrong. But I meant to say snack all day, right though?


Peter Malone Elliott  51:53

Isn't that the best when like you're in the you're in the groove? And you look up like oh man, I've been writing for hours. Geez, Louise, 


John Cosgrove  52:00

love that.


Erica Davis  52:01

This was fantastic. JOHN, you have answered every question I had. Peter. What about you?


Peter Malone Elliott  52:06

Yeah, I don't think we've got any more questions. But I think I think now's the time for accountability. Goals. 


Erica Davis  52:11

Accountability Goals! Has A Theme Song Eventually.


Peter Malone Elliott  52:16

Okay, good.


John Cosgrove  52:17

I think you guys should literally sing it yourself.


Peter Malone Elliott  52:20

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. My voice is is wonderful. 


Erica Davis  52:26



Peter Malone Elliott  52:27



Erica Davis  52:27

let's the three of us a sing "accountability time" right now.


Peter Malone Elliott  52:32



Erica Davis  52:35

That was perfect. You guys.


Peter Malone Elliott  52:38

Sign us up for a record deal, right now.


John Cosgrove  52:40

You've got that recorded just by that everything?


Erica Davis  52:43

Yeah, actually, you're right. With your permission. We will. And john, is it safe to assume you'll join us on accountability goals right now? 


John Cosgrove  52:49

Yeah, yeah, sure. 


Erica Davis  52:50



Peter Malone Elliott  52:50



Erica Davis  52:51

So, gentlemen, what are our three respective accountability, check-in goals for Next Episode? Uhm...I need a minute to think. Who's ready to go,


Peter Malone Elliott  53:01

I got one, I got one.


Erica Davis  53:03

What do you go got?


Peter Malone Elliott  53:04

it's, I mean, obviously, I'm going to continue plugging away at my novel, but that's kind of a given. I think it my accountability goals, not really a writing goal. But it is, in a sense, I want to I'm moving as I said, and I want to, I'm gonna have to downsize quite a bit because I'm moving to a smaller apartment in New York. And I think I'm really looking forward to taking stock of my life and cutting away the things that don't matter and that I don't need and I think, so I'm gonna try and cut my belongings in half, and see how that goes. Oh, which is ambitious, I'm probably not going to hit that. But like, if I can get somewhere near to that, that'll be good. So that's not really a writing goal. But you know, life goal...


John Cosgrove  53:48

No, no. Can I add something to that? The best way to do that, because we had to do this before we before we traveled for a year, and we had to get rid of everything. This way to do it is to give that stuff away to to salvation army. Yeah. And. And you feel good about it.


Erica Davis  54:10

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And honestly, that's going to that's, that is related to writing if it needs to be which it doesn't, because I mean, that's self-care for one thing, and like John just pointed out, it's gonna be self promoting too like, you're not promotion, but you know, it's gonna make you feel good, which is gonna make you write better and...


Peter Malone Elliott  54:27

yeah, yeah, there you go. Thank you for bringing it full circle. Erica, thank you.


Erica Davis  54:32

JOHN got me three quarters of the way there. So it was a group effort. Uhm.


Peter Malone Elliott  54:36

So who wants to go neeeeext?


Erica Davis  54:38

I'll go next. Okay, I would like to have that next time of next recording. I've got my outline. There's no reason I cannot have 50% of my manuscript drafted. I the outline is half the battle for me. I type very quickly. And if the outline's there, I'm good to go. So it's just butt-in-chair, get stuff out.


Peter Malone Elliott  55:02

So your your outlines must be incredibly detailed, then like...


Erica Davis  55:06

There's not so much detail to be honest. Just I've done the legwork this time. And that's been 80% of the battle for me. That's what I've not done. In previous drafts. My young adult horror...


John Cosgrove  55:18



Erica Davis  55:19

What did I say? 50% of it. Yeah, I'm gonna I write short. I don't like long books. I like long books. I don't have the attention span to write them. My word count goal is call it you know, 50,000 words. So I'd like to have at least 23 is when my favorite number is 23,000 words. New words drafted. 


Peter Malone Elliott  55:39

Wow. Wow. All right. That's


John Cosgrove  55:41

 That is a solid goal. Really?


Erica Davis  55:46

You shouldn't be that impressed. I do type so fast. It's just got to be quality, though.


Peter Malone Elliott  55:52

makes me look like a dickhead. Geez. I was like "I'm gonna get rid of clothes!" You're like. "I'm going to write half my book!"


Erica Davis  56:01

It's hard to explain. It's not. This is a first draft. It's not a polished draft. 


Peter Malone Elliott  56:06



Erica Davis  56:06



John Cosgrove  56:07

Yeah, just blurt it out onto the paper.


Peter Malone Elliott  56:10

The vomit draft.


Erica Davis  56:11

Yeah. Better better than a zero draft? Because I don't like the word vomit. It's gross.


Peter Malone Elliott  56:18



Erica Davis  56:18

 Stop. I'll stop talking now. JOHN, what's your accountability, goal?


John Cosgrove  56:23

Accountability Goal... I would love to have another chapter of my novel put into screenplay format by next week is the next week, next week that we're doing


Erica Davis  56:34

two and a half weeks...Two or two and a half weeks.


John Cosgrove  56:39

 Should we say two chapters?


Peter Malone Elliott  56:40



John Cosgrove  56:42

No, I'm gonna cut it right down the middle and say chapter and a half.


Peter Malone Elliott  56:46

All right. Split difference.


Erica Davis  56:48



Peter Malone Elliott  56:49

And that concludes Episode Two guys. We did it.


Erica Davis  56:52



Peter Malone Elliott  56:54

John, thank you so much.


John Cosgrove  56:56

Thank you guys. Thank you so much. I really had a great time. 


Erica Davis  56:59

And we're glad...awesome to have you on here. And up next, in Episode Three, we have Stacey Graham of Three Seas literary agency joining us. She is one of my favorite humans in the galaxy. So I'm pretty excited about that.


Peter Malone Elliott  57:13

And if you have any questions, rants or raves about writing or you want to learn more about us or Pipeline, please visit Pipeline and follow us on Twitter at the podcast title.


Erica Davis  57:24

Speaking of john, how can people follow you on Twitter? What's your handle?


John Cosgrove  57:29

My handle is "cosgrove_lives"


Erica Davis  57:33



Peter Malone Elliott  57:38

Awesome, guys. We did it. That's it.


Erica Davis  57:40

raise a glass. .


John Cosgrove  57:41

Thank you so much guys.


Peter Malone Elliott  57:43

I'm out of bourbon, but I'll drink air. That's fine.


John Cosgrove  57:45

Ha ha ha.


Peter Malone Elliott  57:49

Guys, that was awesome. 


Erica Davis  57:50

That was so good.


John Cosgrove  57:52

Awesome. Yeah!


Peter Malone Elliott  57:53

I'm going to stop stop recording.


Erica Davis  57:55

I get so excited when I see people.

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