Surely, it’s Shirley

A week like the one I have just had, really deserves a good blog. And I really wish I could promise one. But I have never been shy about plunging ahead, regardless of whether I was truly ready or not, which is the perfect lead-in to my audiobook experience.

My audiobook. Yikes. That sounds almost as pretentious as my memoir. And let me digress here, before I begin, to say that while I am proud of my book “State” (you may have heard of it), I in no way went about trying to produce a memoir. My reaction to the first time someone described mine as such, was to flash back to hearing that Snooki from “Jersey Shore” wrote her memoir. 

Just the same, very cool things have been happening, and recording the audiobook of “State” was unparalleled. Now I’m not sure Lauren, the director (yes, a real director) and Connor, the sound engineer, would use the same word. “Challenging,” perhaps. “Interesting” would be nice. But I’m afraid “unprecedented” might describe it best.

Taking on a rookie narrator I’m sure had them expecting a few hiccups. And they were extremely kind when I asked them if around 70 takes per chapter is typical. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, they call it a “punch recording,” which means you read until you make a mistake, then they play back the last good sentence and the narrator jumps back in, re-doing the sentence in question. You keep moving forward in this fashion, in my case for roughly 20 hours a day or so until the book is complete.

Lauren and Connor are currently on leave or I would quote them here. But they did say as they ran out the door on our last day together, that a real, professional audiobook was produced.

I didn’t get a chance to ask if I set some sort of record for the most stomach grumbles, throat clicks, nose whistles and perhaps other bodily sounds picked up by their highly sensitive and I’m sure, very expensive microphone that they were too polite to mention.

I’m just guessing I’m in the running.

I mispronounced one of my very best friend’s and teammate’s name, apparently saying something sounding like “Shirwey” as opposed to “Shirley.” In 40-plus years, I was never aware I was calling Shirley “Shirwey” but apparently, this is one of those Midwestern accent things that we do despite the fact that we/I think I have a regular (aka normal) accent as opposed to people from the East Coast, West Coast and South. 

In maybe the fourth or fifth hour of recording, they told me my accent was charming and authentic and they wanted to maintain it as much as possible. By about the 37th hour or so, it was clear “Shirwey” was not one of those charming affectations and so, I was “punched” and had to redo, which partially explains the 70 or 80 takes per chapter.

The other little bugaboo occurred when I periodically burst into tears at some expected and some completely unexpected moments. Considering that this was easily about the 500th time I have read my book, one might think nothing would catch me in such a surprising way as to elicit tears or, in a few cases, wracking sobs. Some of this you may hear remnants of in the audiobook, should you choose to buy it. Or, I will be called back to a post-production fix-it session between now and then, where I will be instructed to calm down or find myself in breach of contract.

Either way, it was really fun and though I haven’t heard back from Lauren or Connor, now consider them my close, personal friends. 

And on that note, reuniting with more than a dozen of my teammates last weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our state title and have the Today Show film us for a segment scheduled for Sept 13 (on the “3rd Hour”) was one of those experiences – not unlike a wedding – where you wish you could redo it a few more times so that you wouldn’t waste a second doing anything other than hugging and talking and reminiscing. 

We did a pretty good job of it, but in hindsight, I would have locked the door and done an enforced sleepover.

More to come on the Today Show filming as we are legally prohibited from revealing anything before it airs. Also, I don’t want to ruin anything by telling the dozen or so of you reading here. But suffice to say, it will be worth a watch.

I’m only sorry they didn’t let me narrate it.

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