As you probably know by now targets and plans are essential if you wish to achieve success.
So at the beginning of the year I set down a glorified 'to do' list and the two biggest items on it were 'finish second novel' and 'create audiobook for The Peppered Moth' (my first novel).
The reason I must create the audiobook is because audiobooks, apparently, are a very fast growing market. People listen to audiobooks in their cars, while jogging, while pretending to work etc. and if you have written anything even resembling a book you'd be a fool not to get in on this action.
I got off to an excellent start when I successfully downloaded a piece of software called Audacity. This means I can record my audiobook at home, on my laptop. I dont even have a special microphone but I was able to send a test of the recording quality and the word came back from somebody somewhere that it was fine. I was also advised to find a room with good sound insulation, close the curtains and, if necessary, record while sitting on the bed under a blanket.
I quite liked the idea of doing this - it would take me back to the days at boarding school when I lay under my blankets with a torch, reading after lights out, but I saw problems as well. Under a blanket I am likely to overheat and I really wasn't sure how you are meant to keep completely silent when turning the pages of a book without creating distracting rustling sounds from the blanket (and indeed the pages).
In the end I found that my wife's study was perfect as it has heavy curtains and nice non-echoing ambience. When she went off for a couple of days with the children I managed to record the entire four hour book and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, in fact by the end I was wondering why I am not regularly hired to narrate important BBC documentaries - something which I expect will start happening very soon once the world wakes up to what a wonderful reading voice I have.
However when she got back things got tricky.
Yes I had recorded the whole book but I now needed to edit it. It is extremely difficult to record flawlessly. My reading was pretty fluent, if I do say so myself, but I found it impossible not to occasionally make noises such as the aforementioned page turning sounds, knocking the coffee cup, small strange sounds emitted by my stomach etc. In some sections an infuriating clicking or rustling sound of no known origin was ruining large swathes of the recording. There were also lengths of silence where I spent too long pausing to collect my thoughts or turn a page.
I was now committed to recording in my wife's study, in order to achieve a consistency in sound quality, but now that she was back I had very few opportunities to do this. When she is working she is in there, and when she isn't working she doesn't just announce that I am free to use her study to enjoy the sound of my own mellifluous tones while she looks after the kids. Married life doesn't quite work like that - or it certainly doesn't around here. Added to that she does not really approve of The Peppered Moth which she regards as rather a disgraceful book. She accepts that it is not offensive but believes that, on balance, it would have been better if I had not written a story about a man who spontaneously changes colour, even if it does make people of all colours laugh their heads off.
For this reason the audiobook has been created in secret, and if you find this odd then rather than explain further I'd rather just say 'welcome to my world'.
So to continue with this project I have to wait for those rare instances when my wife and children are out. Since she returned there have only been three brief instances where she was out and I was able to grab the laptop, the notebook, and the novel, and rush upstairs to her study. There I had to find the point in the recording that needed replacing, make a note of the timings, delete it, record the new version, insert it, then bed it in by ensuring there were the right lengths of pause, or lack of pause, for the new bit to sound like it wasn't a new bit at all, but just me continuing to read as normal.
The first time I was able to do this for four different segments but the second time I had only just got a second segment recorded when I hear her returning. I figured I could finish up before she came upstairs.
To add to my woes my wife recently trod on my only normal pair of prescription glasses, completely destroying them. This was, of course, entirely my fault (everything is always my fault - that is rule 1 of my marriage) but that didn't make it any less inconvenient. Consequently I have been wearing some prescription sunglasses all the time which make me look like Roy Orbison. When I am recording I have to close the curtains to add to the insulation but the bulb in there is quite dark and changing the bulb each time would be too time consuming. So I strain my eyes as I read like some strange albino or vampire recluse who spontaneously combusts on contact with sunlight.
The result was that I was I trying to insert the recording into the timeline my wife burst in and saw me sitting in the gloom, in dark glasses. "What the hell are you doing and why do you have to do it in here?" She demanded. "And why are you wearing sunglasses in the dark?" She added.
Now of course my default setting in this kind of situation is to come up with some sort of bullshit but I hesitated because nothing plausible came to mind. Then I was rescued by my wife who said, as though I am always doing inexplicable things and am just so weird that she long ago decided that life was too short to listen to the explanations for my lunacy:
"Never mind - just get out."
So for now, at least, I am safe - and the audiobook version of The Peppered Moth is very much in the pipeline, even if it has encountered a bit of a blockage.