Yeah, I’m crazy. I recorded 7 1/2 chapters before I listened to or attempted to edit the first one. I know. Why did I record nearly the whole book before listening, even once, to a sample of the first chapter? I don’t know. Well, actually, I do know.
Because I wanted to move on it, and if I did a little piece and listened to it and it sucked, I’d lose momentum. I know myself well enough. I knew I might have to throw it out. That didn’t matter. What mattered was doing what I had to do to get up a head of steam, to incorporate narration into my day. To stop and examine what I’d done and see how I’d “got it all wrong” would be to kill the whole experiment.
The whole time, I was all whispering to myself, “I should turn off the fridge, I should move the computer,” but I didn’t. I sort of knew in some way that when I went to edit, no amount of Noise Print/Noise Reduction was going to take out the weird high aftereffects of the refrigerator just upstairs. Not when the goddamn $50 microphone turned out to even capture the rumblings and gurglings in my stomach, effectively ruining all sorts of lines.
Other things I refused to do included listening to the ACX do/don’t samples on their webpage. Why? Because I was intimidated. I was scared that what I was doing would sound so inferior that I should just pack it in. That it would be rejected, time and again, on some technicality. That attaining compliance with said ACX technicalities would require an advanced degree in sound engineering.
Trying to establish, from Googling, just exactly what the fuck a “noise floor” is, in Plain English, was virtually impossible – it’s like asking a theoretical physicist to tell you what time it is. Clearly everybody who knows the answer is a high end audio geek, to whom it never occurred that the likes of me, unable to understand a word of all that dorpitygorp technospeak, would ever exist.
So, I got real. I deleted all the files so far. (Okay, archived, but same thing.) I redid my microphone box. I’m going to start reading off the tablet and not off noisy crinkly inconvenient paper. Which it just never occurred to me to do until I saw a pro narrator holding a tablet while he did his job, which was like, duh!
And the ACX samples? Goodness, the “Gallant” samples have more background hiss than my finished products (the Kyle audiobook, for instance) and the “Goofus” samples are just blazingly bad crap: sounding like you’re calling into a radio show, half-assedly editing out half a sentence, recording in the middle of a roundabout. In short, nothing I have to worry about.
But. It’s been educational. And there’s nothing wrong with a dress rehearsal. I know the voices of all my characters now. I just picture certain actors or real people in the roles. Tom = Jon Hamm, Tom’s Dad = George H. W. Bush, Tom’s Mom = Dianne Wiest, etc. and off I go. Also, I’ve learned to let myself cry at certain scenes, then just do them over. It’s my job to make you cry, not listen to me cry.
So I’m going back into it with less stress, more confidence, and obviously some Important Life Lessons Learned. I’m the talent, the producer, the engineer, so no $ lost, only time.
I have a real edge, I think, on a lot of narrators, and that’s the “acting” bit. Some people must like flat, mechanistic narration like this guy, and this lady. These are bestsellers, so the answer must be yes. Are they polished and professional? Absolutely. But where’s the feeling? Where’s the warmth? If someone’s whispering in my ear, so to speak, I want to be seduced, charmed, swept away…