I’m already facing an interesting challenge that requires me to develop better work practices…

Hmmm… “better work practices”. How about developing any work practices! It may come as a revelation that I’m actually a very casual ‘worker’. I don’t do well with ‘structures’ and I hate dogma. You know the kind of thing: There is one way to do things correctly and nothing else will serve you as well….

Seems like a good work practice

That’s not to say I don’t work hard. (I can hear a cliché forming: “You don’t get where I am today without working hard” … also I hate clichés). I’m tempted to say I’m lucky, I have a gift, I just read the words – but that’s a little too self-deprecating (I’ve been there, I’m trying to stop it).

Let me rephrase what I said above. I don’t have any formal work practices. I have an enormous amount of experience but I do what I do by instinct. People ask me why I don’t teach much and I think that’s the reason. Perhaps if I could get inside my head and analyze those instincts I might find something I could teach, but right now I just do what I need to do in whatever way brings me the best results… No, wait. I’m not even thinking about the results when I work… I do what I think works for me, how I would like to hear the story told – and fortunately that seems to coincide with what others like to hear as well.

This is an ‘un’conference timetable!

I do stand up occasionally and talk about the art and craft of narration. Most recently I attended a wonderful VO conference (that’s VO for Voice Over) in Charlotte, NC, a few weeks back. Actually it was an ‘un’-conference; no set schedule at the start, it just developed from what people would like to talk about and what people would like to hear in the arena of voice acting. I spent an hour talking about what I called my ‘holistic’ approach (meaning, I think, that I had no idea what I was doing, I just had the goal of making a good book accessible to listeners). One of the things that made some of my session attendees prick up their ears was my belief that a book tells you, itself, how it needs to be read. You can analyze as much as you like the perspective of the narrator and the genre of the book and it’s style, and so on, but until you actually start speaking the words aloud you really shouldn’t narrow down your choices on the voice that’s going to come out. It’s a scary proposition, like throwing yourself off a waterfall. But I’ve done that, and I rather like it. It’s invigorating.

[I wonder if that’s similar to the difference between American and British stage actors. I’ve heard it said many times that American actors like to analyze the heck out of their characters and motivations and love the rehearsal process. British actors hate rehearsal and want to get to curtain up and first night ASAP. It’s a huge generalization but maybe has a hint of truth.]

Here’s another work practice I’ve enjoyed on occasion (this in the UK especially)

Anyway. I’m heading down a path I hadn’t planned on when I started today… let me get back to the challenge I began with.

I’ve found that an interesting thing happens when you commit to something in the creative field. I say ‘you’. I don’t really know about ‘you’ and maybe I should confine myself to what I have experience of. So. This is what happens when ‘I’ commit to something in a creative field. Suddenly, what seemed a barren desert locale in the landscape of my mind is populated by several oases of ideas (ooh, that was a fancy metaphor). Seriously, during yesterday and in restless minutes in the night and sometimes during today, ideas would pop into my mind as to good subjects to use as starting points for this daily blog. After all, I’m going to have 30 days to fill (29…well, 28 now) and I should perhaps make a note of what they are as they pass me by in case the desert re-establishes itself at some point in the month ahead.

It’s a fear I’m sure I share with others. I’m also sure people have great ways of recalling those ideas. Me, nothing. I didn’t write down a single one and even if I try to recall them now many are probably lost forever (…or are they…?). So I shall now try on a ‘work practice’: I shall carry a notebook with me, and write things down. Okay, there, I said it and I’m committed – let me conclude there and wish myself ‘good luck’!

But before I go – I had written something down yesterday before I started this whole project (write something every day for a month). In fact I made a special effort to get out of bed and find paper and pen to jot this down before I lost it. Then I forgot to include it in my first piece. It’s really at the centre of this whole thing. So I’ll conclude with it here and then go find some pretty pictures to brighten this page.

“There are things I need to do in my life and I’m not doing them. I don’t know what they are yet. But I’m going to find out.”

Take care
– S.


About Simon

Simon is an actor who found his way into audiobook narrating as a side-gig and seems to have made a success of it. With some training as an actor as a child (just a couple of hours a week, but it stuck) and 15 years working inside the BBC (ending up as one of the presenters/newsreaders on BBC Radio 4 in London) he found the ideal combination for an audiobook narrator. Found his way to California two decades ago and never left.

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4 Responses to Challenges

  1. Denice Stradling October 24, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    Oh, I am so looking forward to following this month of blogs, Simon. And, like Barbara, that last sentence so speaks to me! It reminds me of the Bruce Springsteen lyric: “This gun’s for hire, even if we’re just dancin’ in the dark.”

    Keep writing!

  2. Barbara Harris October 23, 2017 at 11:06 am #

    Love these blogs! The last sentence is a purpose for us all! Keep up the blogs please. Also, I am enthralled with two of your narrations right now: Trackers and The King’s Speech!

  3. Tom Radford October 22, 2017 at 10:31 pm #

    Looking forward to all the series! Keep going!

  4. Jan Johnston October 22, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

    Work practices? Take it from a retired court reporter, a set schedule rarely works for the average person, and NEVER works for the creatively disposed.

    I retired from my craft at the age of 62 when I entered into the late stages of keratoconus (a lovely deteriorating condition of the cornea). This is also when I discovered audiobooks because my eyes can’t focus on printed media (unless the letters are REALLY big).

    Anyway, back to work practices… I am a procrastinator, which works best for me. Wait until the day before something is due, and then go for it!

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