I had forgotten. Had misplaced the delight of it.

The readback on tape. The chapter, a story told to myself in the dark

What is it about this self-indulgence that brings me such peace? Is it the sound of my own voice played back to me; a sound that unwinds in my head and rolls onto the page but never really visits the ears?

I’ve noted it in this space before: The taped readback (something I fancy that I do quite well…although the professional voiceover world may have another opinion) has magic in it. And critique. It is an editor that speaks to the heart of need; that advises frankly but gently where the thorns are.

Several months from the most recent practice of this fond old habit, and I had forgotten how wonderful it is.

In a well-reasoned readback, the rhythms of the passages are manifest. The words may not sing. But they have melody and timbre and pacing. If the energy is not there in the creation, the shortcoming will appear in the reading. The trick is not to mind. When I remind myself that the readback does not need to reflect perfection, my life becomes sublime. The balance, the spark, the light will come…if not now, then soon.

Why is this? What is the magic, here? Do we recreate the sounds of bedtime stories told to us in the dark, the things that held the night away? Do we hear fairly and rightly, or do we merely flatter ourselves that something more worthy is here?

After two very full days at the page, I am in no condition to answer any of these questions. My brain is wrung dry, and a week of commerce-writing is a sunrise away. The ending of this chapter still holds me at an arm’s length; it lay on the page like a dead thing in need of some serious Lazarus treatment. Still, I will record what I have done and hope to find nuggets in it. I will listen to my own voice for the sound of my intention, if not my execution. I will think of the steps I must take to find a broader readership of the two works already completed.

The imperative. The obeying of the master’s voice.