Creative Collaboration and Compassion Adventures & Blog Duet with Yvonne Perry’s Writers in the Sky

Click here to read about my Nashville trip last week.

Click here to read Yvonne Perry’s report “Janet Riehl’s Nashville Visit” on Yvonne Perry’s Writers in the Sky blogspot.

The Riehl Family on the Homeplace…everyone played music or wrote poetry as a matter of course. Anna Riehl, my grandmother, in foreground, wrote the poetry collection “On the Heights.”


Collaboration means to work together. When I chart the “greatest hits” of my life, many of these experience revolve around rich working collaborations. One of my greatest joys in life is collaborating with friends. I count good ones like the time with sound engineer Scott Kidd on one hand. (Click here to read Scott Kidd’s credits on All Music.) He’s one of the greats, and so humble. This time working with him was beyond anything I could have imagined or designed.

Recording the audio for “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary” in Nashville with Scott was both collaboration and peak experience. Essentially, I commissioned Scott to work with me in creating an audiobook and the audio for a multimedia ebook (text and links that take you to audio, video, or external locations…an ebook that functions like a website or a blog) for “Sightlines” in what turns out to be a very active collaboration.

Scott is a dream collaborator because he’s skillful, relaxed, fun, responsive, and on point. For this project, I couldn’t have imagined anyone more right to work with. My father would say, “He has a good touch on it.” He understood about the importance of family stories, history, heritage, and legacy. That’s the undercurrent of my upbringing, my current collaborative life with my father, and the five sections of “Sightlines” 90 poems. A sound editor like Scott is comparable to a film editor who pulls a project together like a collage.

At the core of Scott’s talent for collaboration is his talent for sharing his humaness. I cannot say enough good about the man, truly. At only 31, Scott is a man of heart…a man of soul…a man of quiet, efficient action. He sees the big picture and get the details right while making it all easy and fun. He’s an engineer with an artist’s sensibility and intuition. He really understands what collaboration is.


“Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary” is a downhome family love story beyond death that won a DIY honorable mention in 2007. My sister’s death in 2004 launched the spiritual process that gave birth to the book, but “Sightlines” is more than a dead sister book. It’s a book of homecoming…to my family, the homeplace, and to myself and a larger sense of family.

Early in our work together Scott shared that his family had also experienced a sudden death (his uncle) and that he had found “a soft spot that wasn’t there before.” This statement so struck me becuase it’s the very essence of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings on compassion: “The times when you are suffering can be those when you are open, and where you are extremely vulnerable can be where your greatest strength really lies. Say to yourself: I am not going to run away from this suffering. I want to use it in the best and richest way I can, so that I can become more compassionate and more helpful to others. Suffering, after all, can teach us about compassion. If you suffer, you will know how it is when others suffer. And if you are in a position to help others, it is through your suffering that you will find the understanding and compassion to do so.”

In his own direct and honest way, this is what Scott has done. He’s infused his technical expertise with such gentleness that you may enter as a client, but walk away feeling as if you’ve made a friend. Scott said that in the beginning of his career he’d tried to model someone who was extremely businesslike. But, that just wasn’t him and caused undue stress. “I just had to be myself,” he told me. That’s been the cornerstone of his success in working with many of Nashville’s music royalty.

Our work sessions were bookended by playing with his Boston Terrier Tucker, eating Sushi together at Peter’s, and marvelling over the pro-quality wedding album his father-in-law gave them as his present.

What I learned about doing business in Nashville from working with Scott, listening to his stories, and lunching with Hal Manogue and Yvonne Perry at the Yellow Porch (where it felt like we were just hanging out on our front porch, jabbering, watching the world go by) is that it’s very relational…very old school…old world.


Click here to read Yvonne Perry’s report “Janet Riehl’s Nashville Visit” on Yvonne Perry’s Writers in the Sky blogspot.

Find out:
1) Why I wanted to make an audiobook of “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary”….and how long I’ve had this dream.
(Yvonne is one of the folks who inspired me in that direction when I appeared on her January 12, 2007 podcast)
2. Audiobook and multimedia ebook products from the recording session…what’s next?
3. The music and poetry and stories and humorous asides used.
4. The recording session and process.
5. Did I practice?
6. Why go all the way to Nashville? Relational business as a way of life.
7. Hints for tackling an audiobook project

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