Saturday, May 04, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Week Fifteen

The work continues. 

One of the two projects I'm editing is a real delight, with writing I am honored to read, and would be happy to buy up for the Dunesteef.  The other . . . well, it's lots harder to slog through, and I haven't even gotten to the chapter where I really started cursing.  Still, nobody forced me to take these jobs, but that's not going to stop me from complaining about them.

I finished recording another book this week.  However, it seemed the forces of light and/or darkness were trying to keep me from it.  First, there were the aforementioned sound problems.  I hooked the microphone up on my new system again, sure that I just had the settings wrong or something, but try as I might, the horrid hiss was there, even when I had the microphone off.*  So, I now go down to the basement and record, aware that every noise from upstairs or outside is picked up, but insistent on it nonetheless (why don't I just record in here, using my brother's laptop, in a chair that's comfortable, using a desk to anchor the microphone instead of on the arm of the couch?), and aware that, for some unknown reason, one out of every two recordings will sound like I'm neck-deep in filthy water, down in a sewer somewhere ("wE aLL fLoAT dOwN hERe").

But I carry on.  A better man probably wouldn't keep doing the same thing, over and over, hoping for a new outcome.  What is it they say about that?**  I will admit that, today, I did throw a bit of a hissy fit, grabbing the microphone and slamming it against the floor two or three times (delightfully, I was recording at the time, which should be amusing for posterity).  After that, though, I felt a little better, and was able to continue on with my recording.

Today, I reached the end of the book, and it had really done a number on my voice.  I had decided to narrate this section in a gravely voice (what I think of as my Lex Luthor voice) because, as I said the last time, I discovered that this is the same story that had appeared twice before in the collection, just with all the specifics changed.  If I changed up the voice of the narrator, perhaps I could trick the three or four people who will buy it into thinking it's a different story.  I sat in the same position, with the computer on my lap, angling my body so my mouth was near the microphone, for so long, that my legs started to cramp up, and even twitched a couple of times against my will.

And that damned Gene Hackman voice was taking a great toll on my throat (to the level that my vocal chords are hurting even as I type this), but I knew there were only two chapters left, and I could put this thing to bed.  So, I said, "Testing, testing," as I always do when I start up a new recording, and went to work.  I was fairly close to done, more than halfway through the final chapter, when my nephew came in to ask me to open a container of milk for him.  I stopped the recorder, opened the milk, and sat back down to finish . . . only to discover that the entire recording was silent.

Well, not entirely silent: there were two seconds of recorded sound where I said, "Testing, testing."  After that, it was all blank.

I sighed.  I was angry, but my earlier outburst with the microphone had pretty much reset my boiler pressure, so I just sat down again and started again at the point I had recorded an hour before.  It was a little bit easier to narrate the second time, because I was familiar with the language, but my voice was even more strained, and much less willing to shout, or sound normal when I tried to do female or non-Luthor voices.

I finished the penultimate chapter, and started on the final chapter, when suddenly, I started getting very sleepy.  It happened all at once, as the recording will attest: I was reading along, then I would go silent for a moment.  Then I would continue, then my eyes would droop.  Finally, I changed position, and forced myself to barrel through.  I was so near the end!  I heightened the emotion in my performance, trying to stay awake, aware that I was a scant two pages from finished.  One page.  Half a page. 

And then, I did it.  I reached the last paragraph.  I recorded my lines, looked onto the next page (all it said on it was "The End," due to some unfortunate formatting), and went back and re-recorded it so that it felt like the end of a story instead of just the end of a paragraph.

"The End," I said.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

And then all went dark.

I know it sounds like a made up story, but no more than three seconds after reading "The End," the battery on my brother's laptop died, turning the damn machine off.  Aren't these things supposed to warn you when there's only ten or five percent of the battery left, to avoid exactly this kind of nasty surprise?

"No!" Gene Hackman growled in the dark.  I fumbled for the power cord, which I had unplugged in an attempt to get comfortable in my crouching position, and stuck it back in the machine.  It rebooted, came alive . . .

. . .  and had saved the recording in progress.  I played back the last thing it caught.  "What?" a gravely voice said, and then, "No!"

So, to my vexation, there were additional headaches at the end of this particular project (if it is the end, for I still have to edit the last few hours of work, and then we'll see what the rights owner says, since he has shown his displeasure with me in the past, on stuff that didn't sound like it was recorded from inside an aluminum coffin), and I'll be happy to put it behind me. 

Every project I've worked on (and there are fifteen listed under my profile) has had its own unique challenges and surprises.  Which is great, I suppose, since many people have jobs where every day is a carbon copy of the day before.

I hope that these journal entries have been entertaining in some way, and maybe informative about what it takes to take something I've only ever done for fun, and try to make money from it  I know there will be new hurdles in the future, but hopefully, a triumph or two.

Rish Outfield, Narrator Child

*Isn't that scariest thing?  Like one of those movies where the calls keep on coming, even after the hero has yanked the phone out of the wall?

**Oh yeah, people who say that's the definition of insanity are assholes.  I'd almost forgotten that old saying.

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