My life has been filled with departures and arrivals. I have mourned many departures, but I don’t see an arrival as a replacement – it represents change. Sometimes, the emptiness from a departure is a catalyst to look for something new.
There was a time when I had so few watercolor painting assignments that I assumed my career was over. I mourned being a painter but gradually I became a self-taught digital artist. Not long after that, my career was revived.
Another example that comes into my mind is when my daughter was born 11 months after my son died. She was not a replacement for him. I began a different path and my life went in a direction that it wouldn’t have if my son had lived.
There was no going back, though I carried tremendous sorrow. Letting go of sorrow was much easier when I imagined him accompanying me on my journey. And he would be with me when I reached my final destination.
I miss my parents who both passed away in the last few years. Nothing could replace them, but I’ve found ways to fill my time and empty spaces. I have far more freedom than when they were alive and ill.
When I felt the need to work with a vocal coach again, I discovered Hannah and she’s made a huge difference for me. Singing has become easier and a lot more fun.
When I stopped working with the arranger I depended on for four years, I discovered that I was fully capable of playing my songs and singing with only my guitar. Many people have told me that they prefer my acoustic recordings to my arranged versions.
So with his departure, I arrived as a solo artist.
When a friend recommended a new assistant to help me with music promotion, I was ready. Her name was Loren and we started working together last month.
Loren was a lovely woman and wonderful guitarist. I had a list of things for her to help me with and the first one was for her to help me market my audiobook. She sent me specifications for Audible and it was then that I found out my recordings weren’t up to their standards. Loren suggested the idea of sharing it on free sites and that sounded fine to me.
But she had another idea and said, “I have someone I’d like you to contact. His name is Alex.” She explained that Alex owned an audiobook company and she had met him while working at a radio station.
A few days later, I called Alex and he was very nice on the phone. He said to me, “You’re the author? Most authors do not narrate and produce their own audio book. That’s a big mistake. We use professionals and record it correctly as we go along. We don’t want anyone doing any editing and messing things up!”
I listened and wondered what I was thinking when I put in all those hundreds of hours. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did learn a lot about computer music programs.
Before we hung up, Alex sent me an audiobook he had produced so I could hear an example of what his company did. The book was an inspirational one; he and another woman narrator alternated each chapter. I listened to the book for a week in the early mornings while lying in my bed. When I finished, I contacted Alex and we set up an appointment. His office was in the city, but he happened to be working that week at a recording studio that wasn’t far from my house.
I packaged up a few CD’s and headed over to meet him. When I arrived, someone guided me through a maze of hallways that led to a sound room. I could see Alex was involved with directing an audiobook recording. He made me feel comfortable and was friendly when he said, “Do you have time? You’re welcome to watch this for a while and then we’ll talk when I’m on my break.”
I enjoyed being there – it was stimulating. There were two men speaking their parts and Alex kept stopping them. He was a stickler for clear pronunciation and inflection; it looked like hard work; one of the narrators kept apologizing because he stumbled several times.
I grinned thinking how I had recorded myself with little direction. I repeated every paragraph so I had an alternative in case there were any mistakes. Listening and editing that took a significant amount of time and his process seemed a lot better.
When there was a break, Alex turned to me. I told him he had a wonderful voice and I’d enjoyed the inspirational book he’d sent me. Sitting to his side was the other narrator of that book; her name was Susan. I smiled and told her she was so convincing that I thought she was the author.
For a few minutes, I told Alex a little bit about myself and handed him an envelope that held CD’s with my music and audio book stories. He said he would call me after listening to discuss options for my book.
As I was leaving, I passed Susan in the hallway. We ended up talking for a while and really hit it off. There were so many things we had in common and she seemed to be very touched by my story. She gave me her card and that night I wrote to her and shared one of my songs.
A few days later, Alex called me. I was eager to hear his thoughts.
He said, “Judy, your story is lost because your voice is robotic.” Alex mimicked my voice by speaking in a slow monotone. I wasn’t offended – my son had already told me the same thing.“
Judy, why don’t you let Susan or someone else read your material? We can do a test to be sure if you like it. For sure, this way your book will have more commercial value.” When I asked him how much it would cost, his price was far less than what I had paid to record my book on my own, without even considering the hours I spent editing.
I mulled over the idea. How would it be to have someone else telling my story in first person?
It actually sounded like a relief!
Even though I really wanted to tell my own story from the beginning, this was a much easier direction. A professional speaker would know how to engage listeners. And it wasn’t like I couldn’t tell my story either. I always liked to speak when I performed and looked forward to doing more of that someday.
I received another message from Susan, which just reinforced my new direction.
So good to hear from you! I really enjoyed meeting you last week and hearing some of your story. You are a brave woman and it was encouraging to hear of your journey, and the steps that you have taken to live your life as fully as you can. Your song, The Unknown, is really beautiful, very moving and it so touched my heart. Thank you for sending it!
Please don’t be discouraged by Alex’s feedback on your performance. Still hold on to those compliments as to the quality of your voice but it’s important to realize that with an audiobook it’s not just about how nice our voice sounds. 🙂 Recording an audiobook is often compared to as running a marathon and I do believe this is true. You have to keep the listener engaged throughout the entire course of the book. For me, I know that having a background in theatre and being trained as an actor helps me tremendously to bring variation, timing and pace to a book while still sharing the author’s story. Also, sometimes if a story is too close to us, it’s very difficult for us to tell. So it’s no surprise that sometimes you would get reduced to tears.
I’m sure you will come to the right decision for your book. I would be happy to record it for you if that’s something you decide you would like to do.
One last story that I want to share: I recently recorded a book for Christian audio and I had prayed prior to recording it that I would speak the author’s words how she would have wanted them heard. After the book came out I received the most beautiful note (and answer to my prayer); the author had emailed me and said she had cried when she heard the book. She said, “Susan thank you for carrying the words as I had meant them to be read.” That note was such a beautiful gift as it showed me that not only had God heard my prayer, but that had guided me to record the book as it had been prayerfully designed to be heard. 🙂
It was wonderful to share some of our stories together last week! You are on a wonderful path.
All my best, Susan
I have meandered through many challenges in my life. I am confident that today I am on a path going somewhere beautiful. I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Pathways cannot lead to dead ends when there is willingness to see forks in the road.
Instead of looking behind me with regret – I am looking forward!
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