Friday, February 15, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Week Five

So, I've been at this for over a month now, and it's been a learning experience.  I originally wrote an insanely long blogpost last week that talked about my accomplishments and struggles, then talked about auditions, but I split it up so it didn't read too much like a novel.  Here's the second part.

I probably said this before, but I really feel like, if I could do this for a living, it would be something I could do well, and would be a great fit for my particular talents. Of course, every job is work, and even if you love what you do initially, you find that wanting to do something and having to do something feel very different. Because I currently have an out-of-character positive attitude about this, I've been sending out quite a few auditions.

Auditioning is something I have never enjoyed, and never being very good at. Over the years, I auditioned for a handful of plays, and a couple of movies and TV shows, and it unnerved and depressed me. I hate putting myself out there for others to judge, and it probably shows, since I never got much real work from auditions. I imagine wearing a Speedo on the beach is a similar experience, though you might at least get a tan doing that.

In audio, though, I can be anyone. I can pretend to be tall and muscular, I can pretend to be English or from a big city, I can pretend to be an older man or a teenager, I can pretend to be cool, handsome, and confident, I can pretend that my schwanzstugger just barely fits in my Speedo. It is freeing and empowering, and I've auditioned for many audio dramas over the last two years, actually winning a couple of sought-after roles.*

The audition process for is really easy and straight-forward, and I have submitted over a dozen. Last night, I discovered one where they were recording in audio a bunch of horror stories written for pulp magazines in the '30s, and I was so excited about it that I didn't go to bed until after four, trying to get mine recorded, edited, and submitted before I went to sleep.

I don't think I got the job, which my ego can barely comprehend, but I did get a mysterious email from the rights holder that may lead to more work. We'll see.

When I first discussed this with her, Renee Chambliss told me there was initially no self-published work available to record for, because they were trying to keep the quality of the material they offered high. But now, greed must have softened their lil' hearts, because that has recently changed, and Renee told me to make sure I read things through before I volunteered to record them.

I had one I was auditioning for last weekend that was so full of bad grammar and nonsensical sentences, that I finally had to stop recording and simply abandon it. If I agreed to produce it--and I can't imagine any actual professionals beating me to it--in addition to reading and editing, I'd have to go through and insert commas where there were none, and fix sentences and bad phrasing so that it sounded natural. So that it sounded like English.

And even if I were willing to do that (which I'm not), does bad writing make me sound like a bad narrator? I wonder if it's possible to do harm to myself by accepting everything that comes my way. After all, Renee said she regretted producing one of the books she's done. But at the same time, there was one I saw the other day that said that while the book was weak, her narration was excellent. So I don't know.

Which reminds me, I got an invitation to record a romantic short story (the subgenre was Big's favorite, the "Paranormal Romance"), and I considered turning it down. It's told from the female lead's point of view (it's a little like that Meg Ryan/Hugh Jackman movie from a decade ago, I forget the title, but Sting got an Oscar nomination for the theme song), and is awfully sweet and x-chromosomey.

I sent the writer an honest email, telling her that, while I would do the work if she really wanted me to, in reading it over, I felt it would work better with a female narrator, and that listeners would be jarred every time I voiced the main girl's thoughts, in my "oh-so-manly" voice. Somebody like Renee or Scribe would make it work better, or if we could do it with a full cast, it would be perfect.

We'll see what the author says.
I initially wrote that last week, and have since heard from the writer.  She agreed with me, and said that if I had a woman around me, I'd be unstoppable.  I'm not sure what that means, but she did end up giving the part to someone else.  I don't regret that, since it would have sounded awkward to have me reading it, like getting Sir John Gielgud to record a Western, or Val Kilmer to read a Batman book.   Optimally, a man and a woman in the same studio, alternating between male and female characters on the same recording would be an incredible achievement.  But to do it separately, with, say, Renee recording in California, and me recording here, then having to edit the two together would be a Herculean achievement.  I'd do it for a short story, yeah, but a novel would be dealbreakingly difficult.

It's hard to determine how much work to put into this.  I've currently got several projects in differing states of completion.  Obviously, the ones with the closest deadlines will probably get the most attention, but I have been trying to cycle through every single one of them, recording a chapter on one today, editing a chapter on another tomorrow, etc.  As I said when I got my first contract, they give us plenty of time to get these bad boys done, but I have to admit that there are a couple that I give more attention to than others.  And the criteria for that choice is simple: which one is more fun?

That's no way to run a business, I know.  I'm frankly still a bit sore about the multiple rejections I got from the agent, however deserved they were, and I haven't touched one of those projects in going on three weeks.  That can't be professional (which is ironic, since the reason I nearly canceled the contract was because I didn't like being told my work was nowhere near a professional level).  There are literally hundreds of things that compete for my attention, each and every day.  I am not good at sticking with a task.  Heck, I've got four files open right now, in a state of mid-edit (one story, one novel, one Dunesteef, and one for bloopers), and instead of working on any of them, I'm typing on my blog.

Alright, I've convinced myself.  I'm going to open a fifth file, the one I've left alone since January.  I'll work on it for an hour or so.  Who knows, maybe it'll be fun again.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Narrator

*Though not the one I really wanted on the "Firefly" podcast, which as far as I know, never even aired a single episode.

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