Inspired by fire_juggler's meta entry yesterday about podfic as she looked back on the two years as a fan, I decided to offer my own since I'm coming from a completely different perspective. There's also podcast of it, if you're interested.
Meta: Podfic- how and why
This entry was inspired by fire_juggler’s recent and beautifully written reflection on the changes she’s noticed now that she’s been apart of the podficcing community for two years. If you have not read it, or listened to either or both of the wonderful readings of it, I highly suggest you do so. You’ll get warm fuzzies and smiles you didn’t expect, even if you’re like me and coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll be drawn in, finding yourself completely able to relate to the deep love she portrays so clearly.
I have not been into podfic for two years, I’ve only been into it for a few months. I haven’t even been in my main fandom for that long. And I didn’t get draw into podfic because I was already a fan of audiobooks, quite the opposite, in fact. I scarcely gave audiobooks a thought, and not exactly a kind one, because well, I could read faster than the narrator ever could. ‘I could read an entire book in an evening, the trilogy in a weekend… why would I listen to the audiobook?’ was always my thought.
December of 2011, my best friend bought me the first season of Supernatural and an insane love affair soon began, only intensifying with the beginning of Season four when an Angel of the Lord showed up and I found myself squeeing in delight in every scene he starred. I began to write a fanfic, the first I’d written in years, just for the sake of fun and personal amusement. ugbun, the friend who had originally introduced me to SPN, had been my dearest friend and biggest cheerleader with my writing since we met five years earlier through the last fic I’d written.
She wanted to read the fic, but lacked the time, which she hated, because she was missing out on all the stories involving her favorite characters. Now- though I was new to the Supernatural fandom, and this was my first fic within it- I had seen the term ‘podfic’ several times, and had only a vague understanding of what it was, even if I didn’t understand why it was. People recorded fanfics being read. It held no appeal to me, because still, I could read the story faster myself and didn’t have to worry about the reader inflecting something in a way that was said differently in my head and…
But it got me thinking. I love ugbun dearly, and would do pretty much anything for her. If I could find some way to give her back the ability to indulge in fanfic, that would allow her to multitask her job as a pastry chef in a chaotic and busy restaurant, and her second job of owning her own cake business… well, then, I would do that for her.
Podfic… fanfiction read aloud. Hmmmmm….
At first, I was completely intimidated by the thought. I had no idea where to start, I’d never listened to anything more than a short story in audiobook form a couple of times: Rikki Tikki Tavi and some story about a spaceship and a girl who’d snuck aboard having to get jettisoned into space. I didn’t grow up having parents who read me bedtime stories every night or as I grew up. I literally had nothing to go on other than how the story sounded in my head and if I could just figure out a way for my mouth and mind to work together instead of against each other for once, then maybe, maybe I could make this work.
I think kalakirya is the one I asked about how to record a podfic and what to do about a microphone. I went through two headsets before getting a stationary mic to sit on my desk, a cheap little Logitech. Only one person would ever hear this after all, no need for an expensive Yeti or other intimidating microphones I’d have to save for months to get.
It started out being about someone one else, about doing something nice for someone I loved, someone who had always done so much for me, and whom I value so highly it would embarrass her to no end to know it.
But then… I realized I loved reading. It was fun in a way that was completely different from writing the story. Acting out the parts and changing my voice, and even though listeners couldn’t see the changes in my facial expressions as Sam made a bitch face in the story or Castiel looked to Heaven for patience in dealing with these two humans that never ceased to baffle, frustrate, endear him, I hoped they could hear it. Could hear the smiles, the hurt, the uncertainty, the feelings that are what makes us love fanfiction, and that podficcers try so desperately to convey, because that is what made them love the story and want to give it a voice to begin with.
I also learned a lot about my own writing in having to turn around and read it aloud. I noticed more mistakes and ways to better phrase sentences. I learned that stating anything about Cas’ ‘blue gaze’ is pretty much the hardest thing for me to say and it always, always, always comes out as ‘blue glaze’ instead, and since we aren’t talking about pottery, it takes five takes, frustrated raspberry sounds, and cussing before I get it out sounding anywhere near decent.
My dogs are on a mission to always have to scratch when I’m recording and I have to shoo them from the room. My neighbors get inspired to use their loudest lawn care machines just as soon as I sit down to record. The upstairs tenant is suddenly hit with the urge to have her own private dance party to the radio and I could sing along if I were so inclined. I’m suddenly bombarded with text messages, the alert going off repeatedly, in which case that was the first lesson I learned while podficcing: turn your phone on silent. If not, it will, without fail, go off mid-sentence, rather than having the courtesy to wait until a pause. If it’s on silent, no on texts until after your done.
I started downloading other people’s podfics with fervor then, wondering what they were like, if I was the only one with a southern drawl, if it would bother anyone to listen to it, or put them off to the story when my twang comes out as characters get mad, and I don’t realize how much until I get to the editing part.
I’m still brand spanking new to podfics, worrying about stepping on toes as I try to make my way into the community, feeling very much like the little kid getting to sit at the big kid’s table for the first time: excited and terrified of making a fool of myself or doing something wrong and no one having the heart to tell me. Or worse still, being terrible and everyone being polite about it because they feel so bad about the obvious newbie what with her inability to pace and her dogs and their stupid collars and tags in the background, not to mention her grand whopping total of three, count ‘em, three podfics to her credit.
Yep, I was the little kid at the big kid table who’s shoes didn’t even touch the floor: insignificant and out of my element, wondering what on God’s green earth I’d gotten myself into when there were people like exmanhater, liannabob, jennacorinth, and the legendary Fayjay sitting at that same table. ‘Eep’ didn’t begin to describe my panic.
But I stayed at the table, even though I had no background in what I was doing, because I loved it just the same, this new hobby that I would have never even considered or known was a hobby were it not for a single Christmas present from a friend who lived a thousand miles a way.
I’m still the new kid, and I don’t know very many people, even fewer probably know me, but I’m getting braver, ready to start asking permission to podfic other people’s work now that I’ve succeeded in not massacring my own. I like making podfic covers too, but again, all I’ve got are enthusiasm and willingness on my side, and the hope that it could be worse than whatever my final creation is.
I’ve had people say they would never be brave enough to do podfic or even attempt it. You’ve listened to it, haven’t you? You know how it sounds in your head. Just try it. I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself. Perfection not required, leave scathing self-criticism at the door, just go give the people you already know and dearly love a voice. We all came here for different reasons and from different fandoms, but we’re here, and that’s the fun of it. Trying, learning, experimenting, practicing, and succeeding in jumping over that fence into a brand new field to go run and play in… that’s what fandom is. That is what fanworks are. They are fun and love and time and pieces of you rolled together to create a fingerprint. Something completely unable to be duplicated by anyone else. Because it was done by you, and in that, you connected with others like you all over the world, different though you all may be, yet all united as well, regardless of time zones, hemispheres, or continents. That is what podfics, and fandom, are about.
So, yeah. I haven’t been here for two years. I haven’t listened to very many podfics outside of Supernatural, because hey, obsession! I have one! But, I’m here, too. Connected with those who are now veterans while I’m still brand new and unbroken in, and I think there’s a kind of beauty in the terrified forward stare, just as there is in fire_juggler’s reflective look back.