For some time now I have been hearing and reading about audiobooks. Members of my family have told me that they listen to them while on long car journeys or taking long walks. The idea seemed alien and remote to me. After all, I have been addicted to the printed word since childhood, and cannot bear to be without something to read at all times. It’s true, I do manage to read ebooks on my iPhone and iPad, but still prefer to hold a physical book in my hand.
But after writing eight books in the last ten years I felt that the wellspring of my inspiration was beginning to dry up, so I decided to attempt to create an audiobook of one of my books. As it happens, I was wrong about that wellspring drying up, as the muse did resurface and inspired me to embark on writing a new book, but that is something that will progress slowly and organically, leaving me time and energy for my new venture.
I decided to narrate the book myself, as it seemed appropriate for an author to narrate his/her book themselves, and also because I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do it.
The first hurdle to be overcome was that of equipment. One of my sons generously provided me with a good-quality microphone into which I could read the text of the book I had chosen. I decided to start with my first novel, ‘The Balancing Game; a Child Between Two Worlds, a Society Approaching War,’ containing fictionalized accounts of my childhood in postwar London and my experience of living in Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, when I was heavily pregnant.
The second step was to install a suitable program in the PC in my study and to equip myself with headphones. My son helped me in this too, and then it was time for me to take my first steps into unfamiliar territory. Needless to say, my initial attempts were not very successful. I was completely unused to speaking out loud and – even worse – hearing myself. I was fascinated by the markings that were produced on the screen, tracking the volume, spacing and nature of the phrases coming out of my mouth, and even though I eventually came to find these helpful, at first I had considerable difficulty understanding them.
After my initial attempts, I ventured to send a sample of what I had managed to produce to members of my family who were accustomed to listening to audiobooks. “There’s background noise and I can hear you turning the pages of the book as you read,” was one comment. “One can hear the clock ticking,” was another. What was I to do? Yet more hurdles to be overcome. The body of my computer, which produced a faint whirring noise, was moved off my desk by my obliging hubby and set down on the floor, as far away from the microphone as possible. The clock was taken off the wall. I was told to read from my iPad instead of the physical book (this involved enlarging the print of all the ebooks in it).
The last impediment was to find a time when I was not too tired and there were no extraneous noises from the street outside (cars starting, garbage trucks working, dogs barking). Fortuitously, I found myself suffering from jet-lag after visiting our other son in the USA. And so, instead of struggling to get back to sleep at 3 a.m., I decided to get up, have a quick cup of coffee, and sit down at my desk.
Thus, for the last few months, I have been keeping to that routine, getting up around 4 a.m. and reading out part of a chapter every morning. I have come to enjoy the daily encounter with the words I wrote several years ago describing the life I once lived. The beauty of the audiobook program is that it enables me to erase a segment if I stutter or stumble or misread a word or a phrase, as I often do. After reading out each paragraph I listen to it and either redo it or leave it. Consequently, it takes me about two hours each morning to record some twenty minutes of text, but I think I’m slowly getting better at it.
If nothing else, the experience has increased my admiration for the tech-savvy members of my family, as well as the people who read the news on the radio without coughing, stumbling or misreading, as I do.
The job of tying all the ends together and creating a passable audiobook still remains to be overcome. Hopefully, in a few months’ time I’ll be able to inform the world of the new audiobook on the market. Watch this space.
If you enjoyed reading this, please consider reading one of my 8 novels, all available on Amazon, and from my website: www.shefer-vanson.com