In LA, rainy days are like Snow Days. We don’t get them very often, and when we do it feels like a special treat. It makes me want to stay inside and bake cookies in my pajamas. Somehow time seems to stop and frivolity feels justified. BUT, on a workday, cookie-baking can be a bit of a time waster, so instead, I opt to do things a little off the beatin’ path – tasks I wouldn’t normally do on an average day, but that are still useful and will make me feel good. This way I get to enjoy the “school’s cancelled” vibe while still being productive!
Today my “freebie” day consisted of getting all the voice memos and voice mails I’ve been saving off of my phone and onto an external hard drive. Almost daily, I save voice messages and memos on my phone for referencing later – everything from character samples, to accents and dialects. The problem is, they tend to STAY on my phone for a very long time, using up memory and at risk of being lost.
For narrating audiobooks, in particular, I find I can never have enough authentic voices to stow away and draw from when developing characters. Real people are so much more compelling and “using them” in my work really helps me identify and connect quickly and authentically. Engineers often remark that I rarely need to hear voice samples for character reference (when a character re-appears in a book and you need to remember “who” that person is, so you can “do” their voice). That’s because I’m not “doing voices”. I know who these characters are; they are usually based, in some way, on real people.
I often save voicemails that people have left for me. I’ve been stowing messages for nearly a year from my nieces, my Aunt Joan, that client who called from Texas with the twangy accent, my friend Tess from Australia, the kooky administrative assistant from my Doctor’s office…the list goes on. These are great references to have. Sometimes I run out of ideas and I love having these real-life examples to jog my memory and stimulate my creativity. I also like to record things I hear on TV. I find the best things on the news. There is nothing like an authentic character sample of a real person talking about some real thing that happened. (Sidebar: I also like to record the newscasters – which I find come in handy for video game auditions, especially).
So today, on this rainy Tuesday, I set about getting these all out of my phone and into my computer, to file away for future reference. It’s oddly time consuming, but now that they’re all labeled and stored properly, I actually feel like I gained some time, and just a little bit of my life back (along with my phone memory!). I feel organized and satisfied, like I cleaned out a closet or something…and it was a lot less fattening than baking cookies!