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The Otherspect Blog

latest entry 2023-24 2022 2021 2020 2013-19 2012

Learning Curve

May 5thth, 2024

Learning curve.

Wow! I am in the middle of quite the learning curve. Last week I began recording the audiobook for my new novel, Of Time-Cracked Granite, and let me tell you, it’s proving to be significantly more challenging than I expected!

I’d always considered myself to be at least halfway decent at reading out loud, but goodness... the amount of times I’m having to repeat sentences because I’ve stumbled over my tongue or gotten the tone wrong is doing my head in!

Thankfully (in this case, anyway), I’m pretty stubborn, so have pushed through. That first day was brutal though!

It took me a few hours to set up my “recording studio” (rather ghetto-style, I realize; see the image below). This mainly involved covering as many reflective, hard surfaces as I could with blankets and pillows, so as to deaden the sound. The room has a hardwood floor, so I dropped a big fluffy one on top of it straight away.

Another (the main?) problem is the sound from the computer’s fans. I have done everything I can to isolate the microphone and separate it from that contraption, but there’s bound to be some ambient noise from it. Thank goodness for the noise reduction function, or whatever it’s called :-)

Learning curve.

There are a couple of things I’ve been unable to do anything about: 1) the cats (hey, when they are hungry, they are hungry; Arya will even start head-butting the door if I ignore her for too long, and they both make a godawful racket when they are using the litter, which is just down the hall from my study); and 2) the fricking (ok, pardon my French, but I’m going to re-spell that -- f u c k i n g) birds. Don’t get me wrong... I love the birds. LOVE them. They are gorgeous and wonderful and endlessly fascinating. But ugh! The sulphur-crested cockatoos are loudest and most aggro, of course, but even the wattle birds are constantly carrying on in the trees and bushes just outside the window. So so so many times, I’ve been about to start narrating a sentence, and then all of the sudden, rrraawwwwwwwwwrrrrk!!! or chirrtleuput! chirrtleuput!!, and I have to wait until the bird shuts up so I can try again. And then there are the planes passing overhead. (Incidentally, this is a national park, and there used to be a law that keeps planes etc from flying through this airspace. Whatever happened to that?! Billionaire companies convinced the government that their profits were more important, no doubt... but I digress, sorry!)

Once I had the study converted to a sound studio, I got to work testing the mic. I’d already done some research in advance, so putting the microphone and Audacity (the recording program I’m using) to the right settings did not take very long. I then double-checked Audible’s and Spotify’s policies and guidelines (just in case I decide to distribute through them), and started recording the first chapter.

Zoiks. What a mammoth project I’ve undertaken! After four hours of recording, I had barely made it through half of Chapter 1, and I ended up scrapping most of that. This shit is hard!!!! Lol.

Any of you with narration experience might be laughing at me right now. Fair enough lol. I now have so much respect for people who can do it smoothly and consistently!

It has gotten easier as I’ve gone alone, and I am no longer panicking about being behind schedule. I should just make it in time, fortunately. Of course that could all go out the window if the nextdoor neighbours decide to start a massive construction project, but hey... fingers crossed they don’t.

It probably sounds like I’m whinging my arse off, but I’m not, really. I’m actually having a great time doing this. It’s some pretty cool new stuff to learn, and I am getting better at it as I go.

The main lesson I’ve learned is that audiobook narration is much more about acting than it is about reading out loud. I'm having to dig deep to make it sound halfway believable. What I find myself doing is, I close my eyes, try to imagine the scene and put myself right in the speaking character’s shoes, and go from there. Usually that helps me read more naturally.

Hopefully, I’ll be finished with the raw narration in another few days, and then I can get to work editing (which I imagine is going to be a whole ‘nother learning curve in and of itself!) Wish me luck!

So what about you? Do you have any experience with narration? With voice acting? With reading out loud? Any or all of the above? I’d love to hear about it :-) Feel free to click on the “comment / discuss” button below, which will lead you to the Otherspect Discord server where you can join the conversation. Thanks for reading! I promise I’ll get back to writing blog posts more regularly soon; I’m finally getting close to finished with all I have to do on the book.

Have a wonderful week :-)

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October 28th, 2023

Coffee glue.

Sometimes coffee is the day’s glue.

That is all.

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To Do or Not To Do

October 12th, 2023

To Do or Not To Do.

A Javan Rhino and an Amur Leopard sat next to each other atop a steep grassy bank, gazing out over the vast muddy river as it slid inexorably from left to right. Dead though the grass was, it felt soft beneath Leopard’s bum. He stretched and flexed his claws, taking pleasure in the anchoring sensation as they pierced down into the dirt.

The sky overhead had gotten nearly as yellow as the grass; the few faint wisps of cloud were almost indistinguishable from the daily parade of smoke and fumes and soot. From far beyond the horizon, just at the edge of earshot, Leopard more felt than heard a series of chest-deep thumps followed by what he thought might have been many dozens of howls, perhaps screams.

He flattened his ears back. “Rhinoceros, my friend, something has been bugging me of late.”

“Something has been bugging me, too,” Rino yawned, ears flicking in annoyance at the relentless flies that were buzzing around her head. “And I told you, call me ‘Rhino’. We are beyond formalities, now. Everyone is.”

The yawn was contagious, and felt good to Leopard. When his relatively youthful fangs and pink palate were again hidden from view, he growled a growl that was not half as serious as the worried look in his eyes. “Fine. Rhino.”

The water oozed past, appearing almost as lifeless as the grass.

“Well? Speak, child.”

“I’m not a child anymore, remember? I’m an adult.”

“Speak, adult,” the rhinoceros corrected herself.

Leopard balked, suddenly unsure of how to word what had been on his mind over the past hours, days, weeks, months, slowly building, slowly accumulating like piles or ash or plaque.

Rhino, all wise eyes and wrinkles, glanced sideways at the young leopard, but said nothing. After a while, she returned her attention to trying to land the perfect ear-flick in the hope that it might drive off at least one of her insectile aggressors for good.

“I guess….” Leopard trailed off, then began again. “See, okay. So, what’s been on my mind is this: If the world’s ending, then… well, then what’s the point, right?”

“What’s the point in what?” Rhino turned to stare into the young feline’s eyes.

“In anything. In doing anything, I mean.”

“You mean if the world’s ending, then nothing we do will be completed, so what is the point in even trying. Right?”

Leopard nodded, feeling a mixture of relief and moroseness at having finally given voice to the angst that had been plaguing him for so many sleepless nights.

Rhino nodded and returned her gaze to the far horizon. “Well, I guess it comes down to what you are.”

“What I am?”

“Yes. What you are. We are what we do, are we not?”

Leopard shook his head. “Sure. So they say.”

“And therefore, if you do nothing, you are nothing. So why not continue to be something for as long as you possibly can?”

“So you’re saying I should keep working? Keep on doing stuff? Even though everything is so absolutely fucked?” Leopard growled. Some of his irritation stemmed from the growing ache of hunger in his belly, but only some of it.

“Indeed, Daniel Jackson. We are what we do. And so the best we can do is to keep doing and therefore being the things we love. To keep on striving forward, keep on hoping, keep on working toward a better future. A better world.”

Leopard contemplated this for a long minute. During that time, at least two bodies floated past, and possibly a third, though he couldn’t be sure; the limbs, if limbs they were, were horribly scorched. “Okay, but then what about when the end comes? Because it’s coming. I can feel it. I can smell it.” He supressed what would have been a much too kitten-like whimper.

“Well, child… adult, I mean… if the end does come, then we die falling forward rather than backward. We die doing what we do; we die as we have lived: We die ourselves. We die in hope; we die in love. And in so doing, we are that. And that, in the end, is better than the alternative of not having tried at all. See?”

“Okay,” Leopard nodded, lifting his eyes again from the oily river to the distant horizon. “So, you’re saying I shouldn’t give up. I should just keep on going, regardless of what is coming.”

“What might be coming, yes,” she soothed.

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Anytime, friend.”

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A Few Things

May 4th, 2023

A few things.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned a few things.

I finally learned what it’s like to be sick with Covid. I also experienced first-hand, again, just how difficult it is to get a doctor’s appointment these days.

I learned that there actually are limits to the imagination, and that they can be felt most keenly while staring blankly at a computer screen after having been up all night racked by wave after debilitating wave of coughing fits.

I learned that “Comfortably Numb” can be introduced with a minor jig and sung in 6/8.

I learned that a trumpet can be played through a flashlight.

I learned that dolls have stories, and that “blythe” is not just a word from a Robert Burns poem.

I learned that the pick-up in my guitar is a piece of crap. But then I always suspected that.

I learned that Indo-Pacific corals are more resilient to climate change than Atlantic corals.

I learned that gravity is still gravity, but wounded pride can heal.

I learned that some people are greedy, selfish, and brazen.

I learned that some people are generous, kind, and considerate.

I learned that hot toddies taste best when you get the balance right between honey, lemon, whiskey, and cloves.

I learned that a bit of soy can take homemade egg-drop soup to the next level.

I learned that people do care, after all.

I learned that chocolate is at least as yummy today as it was yesterday.

I learned that the world is still turning, and that life goes on.

I learned that tomorrow is a new day.

What have you learned recently? :-)

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