The Soul of a Story

My attempt at a review

Usually, when I sit down to write, it starts with a prominent and straight path. I have my idea, it is going to get on the page, in a great and exciting way, and then I’ll be done.  What ends up happening, however, is, I wander around in the woods, lose my path, and stare at an interesting tree for an hour. I was initially going to make an attempt at some sort of book review or synopsis or something. Since discipline is eluding me, my thoughts will have to suffice.

Now, believe me, I can be disciplined. I can focus like its nobodies business.  That being said, discipline is not my ideal state of being. The last job I had before going to full-time self-employment,  was for a large corporation.  I was in Tech Support, helping employees in the field.  Okay, okay,  I worked in a call center.  Do you know how they say these calls are recorded for quality assurance?  Well, they are.  There is a whole line of work that involves listening to calls and rating them.  Those scripts that are so annoying? Employees get docked if they do not follow them. 

I rocked the call center.  I worked in the technology field, and tend to be a pretty good problem solver.  Not to toot my own horn, but I was the voice you would want to hear,  I got stuff done.  Results baby!

Sometimes, however, I didn’t say the closing line correctly, or some other thing that was off the parameters of what I should do.  When these calls were reviewed, and I didn’t get my perfect five stars, it would crush me.  Seriously, it would bug me for days.  

I ended up leaving this company after my Dad passed away.  Going back to that just didn’t feel right.  I hated the feeling that I was trapped in a box (or cubical).  He had suggested I get back into the Arts or Education, I may be happier there.  I ended up writing and Audiobook Narrating.  

Come to find out, this world is based on stars and reviews and likes and the whole works.  Ugh!  I have learned that it is essential to get reviews of your work out there in the world of the internet.  Good reviews mean more people read or listen, right?  

Well, how do you put a number on something subjective? Not every movie, story, or piece of art is going to resonate with everyone.  Some reviewers are great, they point out what is disrating to them or what they like.  Some are just downright cruel.  How does “It sucked?” help anyone.  

Working with indie and self-published authors on their audiobooks has been amazing.  It has given me the chance to rethink how I read (and listen) fiction.

When I first read Much Needed Sunshine, I appreciated it, but it wasn’t my favorite book of all time.  The genre was not my ideal choice, and the story had a happy ending.  Everything was tied together into a neat little bow.  I was a bit cynical.  The real world didn’t have happy endings, and no one was beheaded! Even so, it was my Fathers first novel, and I was proud of his accomplishment. When I got the opportunity to narrate it, something strange happened.  I feel in love with the characters, the story, everything.  There was something almost magical about it.  I could see my father in the writing, feel like he was right in the room with me.  The essence of who he was on each page.  It made me feel closer to him, even though he was gone.  What really rang true was his optimism and perseverance.  His early life was a challenge, and yet he was still able to become an amazing, gentle, kind (and stubborn) person.

Another Novel I recently narrated, was All the Stars That Ever Were, by Robert John Jenson This was a fun read. It’s in that science fiction and fantasy genre that I love, so that certainly made it easy to enjoy! It was unique because it focused on relationships and family and how our reality could be changed by the smallest differences.  It made me feel both insignificant and lucky.  

After narrating these two books, I found myself fascinated by the idea of the author’s voice.  Being a narrator allows me to work closely with the Authors.  Some like to be really hands-on and involved, others just let you run with your creative self. With Robert John Jenson, we touched base most days I woked.  He would review my content as I went.  I really appreciated this because it gave me a chance to make corrections and get to know him.

I found myself looking forward to the nightly corroboration.  I would get funny anecdotes on the inspiration behind some of the characters and insight into the author’s personality.  As I went through the narration, I subsequently had a second more intense read through.  I found I could really start to hear the essence of who he was coming out in his writing.  His love for his family and the people in his life he cared about spoke to me.   

As we wrapped up the project, he mentioned, “Thank you for taking care of my baby.”  It got me thinking, isn’t this how we all think of our writing or any creative endeavor for that matter.  We put a little piece of ourselves in everything we put out into the world?

When I started writing Sophie’s story (click here for an unedited version of chapter one), I didn’t intend it to be anything but a fiction story.  When I wrote the last sentence, I have to admit, I shed a tear (or thirty).  Okay, I flat out bawled…I heard my own voice in her hope, fears, and joy. I don’t think I had paid attention to my own voice in ages.
Knowing this, how could I ever put a rating on someone’s soul?  All I can do is apprise how it touches me, and hope it speaks to you somehow as well.  So if you decide to give All the Stars That Ever Were, or Much Needed Sunshine a read or listen, or any other work, you realize the fantastic gift a story can be.

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