Monday, 28 January 2013

EVERY KIND OF READING ALOUD by Enid Richemont

Amazon 0689836368
 Recently I've been asked to narrate one of the story-apps I'm doing with Flying Books. The last time I used a mic was at the launch of FOR MARITSA WITH LOVE amazon.co.uk/dp/0689836368 and on that occasion I nearly wrecked it, so I regard the things with great caution. I don't have a mic on my computer, so we bought a tiny clip-on one. It was strange to be doing a reading without a visible audience. Now, don't misunderstand - I have always read aloud - for me, it's an essential part of working - but it's a private thing, and I hate having anyone around while I'm doing it. Reading finished work to an audience is something else. It's a special kind of sharing, and audience feedback is an essential part of it. A formal reading with a mic, pausing briefly for each page turn, has been a curious experience, and I still haven't got it right - I was told it had too much echo, so I may have to give up and hand over to one of their professional narrators (I wasn't too impressed by the sample narration they sent me, though).

Words spoken, words read aloud, words learnt and uttered, words read inside your head and words alfresco - they all feel astonishingly different. Work on the computer reads differently from work printed out; likewise handwritten work and word scribbles. The first stories ever told were oral, and probably sung, and the narrative would have been changed and embellished by each individual narrator. The physical act of writing slows things down and permits contemplation - and editing. I think the very best writing contains elements of both kinds of storytelling - the immediate and the crafted, which leads me to mention Kathleen Jones's recent fascinating blog about the life, and afterlife, of Katherine Mansfield. I hadn't read her for decades, but found a delightful little Bloomsbury Classics edition of her short stories in the Barbican library and began a re-acquaintance. She was an amazing writer.

I've spent about a month editing and updating my previously published (Walker Books) Young Adult novel, THE GAME amazon.co.uk/dp/B00B0OAE7E, and yesterday I went public and put it on Kindle and KDP Select. It's always fascinating and challenging to go back to work that's already been out in print format (if not, recently, 'in print'). Updating usually involves dealing with political and technological changes, but actual editing can go on for ever - I even found a spelling mistake in the original hardback, and I had a meticulous editor at Walker. At the time of writing, this was a book I felt passionately about - it was one of Wendy Boase's favourites - but over the years I forgot about it, so re-working it felt like coming to a current work in progress. The extraordinary autistic child, Jennie, in the story, who was able to remember and sing (in tune) whole symphonies, but who refused to speak, was based on the very real child - a boy - I met when I was teaching in a Rudolf Steiner school. Please do take a look. Incidentally, I'm thinking of changing the title of this story. There are so many books with that title, and these days, it does, faintly, suggest computer games. My alternative title might be: 'SONG OF THE FURIES' - what do you think?




9 comments:

Guernsey Girl said...

'Singing Jenny' - how does that sound?

Reb MacRath said...

Song of the Furies rings my bells. And I agree with you about editing going on forever!

Bill Kirton said...

I agree completely about reading aloud as part of the editing process, Enid. It picks up all sorts of things you don't get by silent reading. I also do podcasts and record excerpts from books. Good mics cost a fortune but the Garage app for iPads produces surprisingly good results. On the other hand, if you want to use a little DIY trick, get a cardboard box (12ins by 10 or bigger if you like), line it with some old material or a towel, prop a digital voice recorder inside it and just read into the box. It's a mobile sound studio and you get very good results. I use an Olympus WS-750M.

Bill Kirton said...

Sorry, that should be the GarageBand app.

madwippitt said...

Love listening to books - and you're absolutely right: a good narrator is essential!

John A. A. Logan said...

THE GAME has a great book description on Amazon, Enid...just read first chapter and, as before, I'm struck each time by how bold the openings of your books are...
Sure to draw readers in...
I'll get on Tweeting duties for THE GAME soon!
As for title...THE GAME in a way IS its title...I wouldn't change the title from the original because of worries about other books having same one, or because of the computer game angle, if it was me...
On the other hand, if you have an impulse to change it, that's different!

Kathleen Jones said...

Thanks for the mention, Enid - I'm glad the blog took you back to katherine Mansfield! I'm in NZ at the moment, in the heart of KM country!

Enid Richemont said...

Thanks for that DIY suggestion, Bill. Might it work with a cheap clip-on mic? We're currently using Audacity, which was recommended by the publisher.

John (Logan) - thank you again. I hope that, when you have time, you'll read the whole book. I'm feeling a bit paranoid about Amazon at present, because two reviews (not of this book) I know were posted, didn't show up - has anyone else had this problem? I'm seriously considering un-publishing this one as an ebook, and sending it out again, as it's been totally edited and updated. 'FURY'S GAME'??

Kathleen - I did enjoy your post, which sent me diving into Katherine Mansfield again. Mixed feelings - I do dislike that period - but she's an amazing writer.

Dennis Hamley said...

Yes, reading aloud is so important, both to the writer when actually writing and for conveying direct feeling and interpretation to an audience. Many, many years ago I wrote about it at length in a book for teachers, 'Fiction in the Middle School', published by Batsford, a long-defunct publishing name. I've often thought about putting some readings on Youtube but, through natural inertia, have never actually done anything about it. I like your soundbox idea, Bill. But can I start off with merely our little Logitech webcam/mic bought half price in the PC World sale specifically for Skyping?