I’ve been warming up my uvula
And that’s not the only thing. Each day I stick out my tongue and recite ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ but only once I’ve done some stretching, shoulder rolls, imagined I’m eating an apple then chewed some invisible gum. Massaging my jaw and throat is part of the routine, as is blowing raspberries, singing and repeating Q E Q R. I’m also trying to achieve more resonance. Luckily I’m alone with my oral workout because, quite frankly I look deranged. (Not too far from my usual peculiar and odd behaviours, I grant you, but still…)
A fresh challenge has arisen in my writing career. My lovely new publishers at Hobeck Books www.hobeck.net picked up on the fascination I have with accents and that I don’t mind making a fool of myself in front of an audience or camera. ‘Why don’t you narrate the audiobook?’ they suggested. Adrian Hobart, one half of the dynamic couple making up Hobeck, is an ex-BBC broadcaster and a narrator as well as Publishing Director. I blame him for planting the seed.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge yourself there are a few reality checks to consider. Narration is not the same as acting, however it is a performance which requires practise and coaching. Like many, I’ve dabbled with am-dram and love to entertain with a story. So, having stepped up to speaking at conferences in my nursing career, more recently I’ve braved public speaking – giving talks, running workshops etc. However, I also invested in voice coaching three or four years ago and it enabled me to appreciate what I could achieve with practise.
‘So, what took you so long?’
Simple answer: Technology and ineptitude. I have the equipment; a decent microphone, pop shield, audio interface and headphones. Using all sorts of soundproofing including an old duvet, I fashioned a sound booth in the writing shack. Because I read out loud what I have written, to pick up on clumsy sentences etc, I used this set up to practise making recordings. Besides, reading aloud is very liberating and good for mental health, I recommend it. What I don’t have is an understanding of the software settings or the ability to edit. Thanks to Adrian I can now record without getting in a tizzy. I send it to him, he does some magic and a sound editor makes my performance into a quality production. ta-dah!
Losing my virginity at last
I’m giving it a formal go with recording a version of the novella I’ve recently written for Hobeck. Let me tell you, it’s not easy. Living in the countryside has certain challenges: chickens, cockerels, squirrels, tractors, shooting, low flying aircraft, dog walkers, to name but a few. I also have to hide the clock under a cushion and switch off anything with a fan. It can get chilly in the winter and sweaty in the summer. When I get in the swing of the story it’s fine…until my stomach rumbles. Grrrr. Here I must confess to giving my apologies to the sound editor for the outtakes (one or two swear words may have popped out of my mouth the other day when a walnut landed on the roof of the writing shack! Bloody squirrels)
Anyway, if this goes well and I pass muster, then I will try narrating a whole novel. If it’s not good enough then I’ll go back to voice school. I’ll let you know what happens.