May 11, 2016

Reading My Book, Out Loud.

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Yesterday, I recorded my audio book in a small studio, near Borough station. It was quite weird and nerve-wracking. I got up, brushed my teeth, put on a polka dot headband and looked in the mirror, thinking: “today, you have to read OUT LOUD, IN FRONT OF PEOPLE, the rude things that you cringed at and typed out.”

It was also nerve-wracking because it was new. I’ve never ever read more than a little podcast introduction either. I did around twelve hours of solid reading. My own voice. I’m no actress, but I knew I had to do certain “voices” and read it with enthusiasm. No cheese, though.

When you write a proposal for a book, you don’t really think people will one day read it. It’s almost a joke, or a game – “this would make an interesting chapter LOL” you think privately in your own company. And when someone actually wants to publish it you scream “YESSSSSSS” and then you gulp. And drink a glass of wine. Fuck.

I’d just got back from a press trip to Italy, so I was feeling a bit out of action having had a whole week out of London. I had a sunburnt hand (idiot, I’d forgot to put suncream on it whilst reading in the sun), and a relaxed mind, but the nerves were there niggling away.

I will never take for granted the ability to travel due to my blog focusing on “lifestyle” and “life stuff”. Going away and discovering new cultural activities aligns with the vibe of this blog, so it makes sense to create content, if I can, through PR companies who offer cool things. My disclaimer is real: I only write about things I a) like and b) actually feel is worthy of a recommendation. I’ve been on multiple things that I actually haven’t ever written about because I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. An example of a good collaborative experience was when I wrote about was the Shamanic therapy session I had out in Dorset that left me and best mate feeling AT ONE WITH LIFE again – it had multiple bookings after I wrote about it (via my newsletter) because it was clear I had genuinely really enjoyed it and got something out of it. I’m always super happy to recommend good experiences.

Any way, I just went off on a bit of a tangent there. (I’m sitting in Heathrow airport at the moment and I just purchased a Peroni beer because my flight is delayed and hey it’s after 6pm).

So – back to my audio book – it was such a strange experience but a good, helpful one. You see, I’ve read through my book countless times – you have to, to check you’re happy with it and want any changes made before it “goes to the printers”. But reading it out loud, the whole 300 pages of it, was so…different. I felt (if this is even possible) both removed from and also closer to the book.

Did I write this? Is this my life? Oh god this bit is embarrassing…

It felt like I was reading it through someone else’s eyes. I could tell the bits I was racing to get through and the bits that were slower – and the bits that made my cheeks turn hot.

Oh, my cheeks turned so hot reading some of it. I was actually sweating.

Tom, the producer who was doing the recording/editing would chip in after each chapter. Little comments, his reaction. He was first my “live review” in a way. It was exciting. 

Anyway – I don’t know if it’s the “done thing”, talking about the behind-the-scenes of the project before it’s out in the world, but I can’t help it. I feel like I have to report back on these bizarre things and share my learnings. I feel closer to the book now having read it out loud – and more in charge of it. I know it so well now – inside out – the flow, the pace, the format, the emotions.

If you’re ever writing something and want to try and see it objectively, read it out loud and record it on your phone. Listen to it back.

Reading it out loud made me own up to it. This is real. This is what I wrote. This is it now.

This is the book. The final book.

And now: it’s done. I’ve written it. I’ve read it out loud. I’ve done all I can. It’s out of my hands.

ON TO THE NEXT ONE?

  • Congratulations on writing your first book. It’s cool that you did audio too. I just started to get into listening to my books. Although I love a good hard-copy any day.

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