It all feels rather strange…

I’m one of those actors who tends to absorb rather too much about the character or the circumstances of the piece they’re working on. Yesterday I mentioned I was now in the middle of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled… and it’s slightly disturbing. There’s an element of madness in it. I’ve seen the novel described in a reader’s comment as a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Proust, and that does give you just a little of the sense of it. I should not be surprised, given the quality of his other writing, that this is a wonderful piece to read… but that makes it all the more dangerous for me.

There are several writers I just love to narrate (I’m going to plug Guy Gavriel Kay here as well as Brent Weeks as the two that come readiest to mind). The writing is so wonderful I feel like I’m diving into an enormous bed of feathers every time I start to read aloud (seriously, there’s a huge difference between reading words on the page and reading them aloud – take Shakespeare for instance – the sounds I feel affect me viscerally). And in this case with The Unconsoled, as I say, that can be a danger – I fall into the world and just keep falling. And when I have to come back out of my studio into the ‘real’ world everything seems just a little… strange.

It’s all a bit foggy out there – click on this and you’ll see what scares me most

Here’s the thing though. Life is feeling a little strange already these days. Reality has not had the stability it used to have for many months now. (I’ll stop there in case I’m accused of politicizing this blog… maybe that’ll come later). But I think it’s fair to say that wherever on the political spectrum you find yourself there’s something different and slightly wonky about how things are working in areas that we didn’t used to have to get so worked up about (well, I didn’t – and you can criticize me for that, but there it is).

And then, this morning, I decided to try a new podcast and landed on one in which three people I’d never heard of before (but may be connected to the film industry in some way) discussed terrible films and asked why they had been made in the first place… It was very high octane energy with lots of excited shouting over each other and very repetitive and barely constructive in any way I found useful (though it did make me want to see the movie in question – if that’s the result they wanted).

I knew when I started it up that I might not enjoy it, but I had to have something to listen to as I worked out (rowing machine this morning) and I figured I’d give it a go. Thirty minutes later I was exhausted (not from the rowing, I just paddle very gently for the duration) and confused. THEN, after my first studio hour I took a break and hooked into a video posted by this guy who had been the keynote speaker at the Audio Publishers’ Conference a few years back, Peter Shenkman, as he interviewed a life coach, who was a world champion sky diver, on the subject of fear.

By the end of the day I wanted to find some corner of a very dark room and just curl up and cry, or laugh, or giggle maniacally to myself as I burbled ‘Why am I doing this, why, why, why’?

But somehow I found the energy to sit down and start this 4th blog in my 30 day personal challenge.

This is how life should be…

Tomorrow I’ll take more care of myself.
Be good
– 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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8 Responses to It all feels rather strange…

  1. Lisa Blackburn November 6, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    I recognize the serene lakeside location in your second photo. You may not know it, but there are a number of your avid fans on the staff there — some of whom are probably listening to one of your books right now instead of working. (Shhh! Don’t tell.) I’m currently enjoying “Great Expectations” — which is right up there with the Patrick O’Brian novels among my favorite Simon Vance readings. Absolutely brilliant. Up next, either “Bring Up the Bodies” or “The Wonderling.” Thank you for bringing so many wonderful books and unforgettable characters vividly to life through your work. And keep those blog posts coming — your 30-day writing challenge is very inspiring!

    • Simon November 6, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

      Oh, I’m a member (Huntington Gardens in Pasadena)! Maybe we’ve passed in the early weekend hours… our favorite times. Actually you just reminded me – I need to re-up (I missed the bonus offers but I don’t mind – you guys do wonderful work there).

  2. Yvonne Reed October 26, 2017 at 9:22 pm #

    Hello Simon Intoo have enjoyed Guy Gavriel Kay’s books. Contrasting the beautiful prose with all the gore must have been difficult. Other than rowing, how do you de-compress from intense stories?

    • Simon October 27, 2017 at 5:13 pm #

      I stop, I breathe, I smell the roses (well, I would if I had any… We’ll be planting roses in the new garden over the next year).

  3. Barbara Harris October 25, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    Yep, that’s exactly what I saw ….really scary!!!

  4. Barbara Harris October 25, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    I clicked on the picture and find that the same thing scares us! I so enjoy your post today….makes me feel we’re not alone on a daily basis.

  5. jessica hall October 24, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

    Enjoying your blog. I love your performance of Ruth Downie’s Medicus series. In Vita Brevis when explaining that Egyptian anatomists butchered live victims… the single word “apparently” was so invested with meaning… it was all in the way you said it. Never a more prefect performance in the history of theater.

    There is no greater pleasure than hearing a good story told well. Its kind of you to share your thoughts. I am not sure I understand whats scary about the foggy rainy photo? Is it meant to be a vision of unrelenting, never ending gloom? Hard for me to see gloom in rain these days. Seems like there is rather too much fire about.

    Take care and thanks for all your work, it really is a treasure.


    • Simon October 24, 2017 at 10:00 pm #

      I took the photograph in Chicago early in 2016 – even then it felt ominous… If you expand the photograph you’ll see the monolithic letters T, R, U, M, P looming out of the fog. Terrifying.

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