I sat in the chair of the studio, squeezed between the grand piano and bookshelf, the inch and a half thick manuscript on my lap, a pen and yellow highlighter in my hand, and looked helplessly at my watch, which inched ever closer to 5 p.m., the hard cut-off.
“Cut,” I said, shaking my head. “You said ‘dogs.’ It should be ‘dog.'”
“Sorry,” Lawrence, the reader, said.
Tom, the engineer, punched some buttons on the console, and Lawrence read the line again (“Dog”). But saying the next line, he fumbled a phrase.
“Sorry, I messed up. Can we do that again?””
Tom patiently punched more buttons and Lawrence said the sentence again. Meanwhile, the seconds ticked by.
My fingers squeezed the pen harder. My feet tapped a mile a minute. We were on page 16 … 16 out of 146. I clicked the pen over and over again, my toes pounding the floor.
As the clock struck 5, my eyes scrolled upwards to the page listing at the top corner: 18. Ignoring my “ignorance is bliss” mentality, I did the math. We’d need to average 42 pages during the next three days.
Putting on a hopeful smile, I thanked Lawrence and Tom and left the studio. My hands trembled as I drove home. We were averaging approximately one page every 20 minutes. At this rate, it would take until next month to finish. But we had three days. Lawrence, a dear friend and an amazing actor, was getting married in a few days and moving back to New York. I was flying back to Nashville. There would be no extension of the recording schedule.
My insides quivered. What if we didn’t make it? I’d put so much hope into this.
It hit me: reading aloud is hard. And my writing is probably harder to read than usual. I use a lot of alliteration, parentheticals, and probably too many of my favorite, the em dash (“—“). I silenty apologized to Lawrence for the frustration I had felt.
The next day, Lawrence and I arrived early to the studio. “I read over the next 45 pages last night,” he said.
I nodded thanks, knowing the sacrifice he was making. Wedding and moving planning were all-consuming jobs for him. He must have stayed up late into the night to read the text.
Tom entered and took his seat in the pilot’s chair. Pushed some buttons. Adjusted some levels. Lawrence trilled some vocal sounds (lessons from ten years on Broadway). “Whenever you’re ready,” Tom said to Lawrence.
Seconds later, we heard, coming from the studio speakers, Chapter Three: Modifications.
As he read the first paragraph, Lawrence’s voice was confident, strong, flowing smoothly through the sentences, navigating the difficult phrases with ease. A moment later, we turned the page.
As I flipped the paper to the pile at my feet, my 20-hour scowl loosened.
Five hours later, we’d recorded 45 pages of text. The papers lay scattered like gum wrappers around my feet. Marks and yellow highlights graffitied my manuscript. But we’d covered the needed amount. I left the studio buoyed, hopeful.
“We did it,” he said.
I gave a laugh, sharing his enthusiasm. We had stepped into unfamiliar waters and had waded through safely.
The next step: we will release the CONCEALMENT 48 audiobook on our company’s website. I’ll release the book at the same time. Hopefully, we can produce more audiobooks in the upcoming months. And hopefully, Lawrence can return from New York to read some of them.
The next step in the writer’s life.