Not Writing For Audio, by Katrina Grigg-Saito
This is a post about not writing for audio.
Maybe as the fiction editor at the Drum, our audio literary magazine, this isn’t something I should say, but I don’t write for audio and I don’t read for audio. I read for pieces that are good. And for me, good is about rhythm. Good is about words that have rolled around in a human mouth. Your human mouth, as you’re writing.
I read everything out loud, repeatedly, in the groggy morning light of my office, where no one can hear me. Maybe this comes from my 13 years as an actress, and the acting teacher who told me that in order to love Shakespeare, you have to draw a bath. You have to draw a bath and light some candles and uncork a bottle of wine and drink and read aloud until this alchemy happens—you think that you, not Mr. Shakespeare, have written the sonnets. I would memorize until the words were mine, broken down and absorbed into my jejunum. (I don’t advocate ever using the word jejunum in an audio piece. But I like the sound of it better than small intestine).
After years of eating someone else's words, I realized I was still hungry. I wanted to use my own words, not the borrowed words of someone else’s Shakespeare. So, I started writing and reading out loud and getting horribly embarrassed. Embarrassment is a good teacher.
Even in the groggy morning light of my office, when no one is listening I get embarrassed. I read words aloud that looked so beautiful on the page, but come out sounding like they're wearing too much make-up. I want to tell them to wash it off, that their freckles are beautiful. My ear will pick up things that my eyes skimmed over. And I wait for the rare moments when I read aloud and my 10,000 tastebuds wrap themselves around a line. Editing is a sensory activity. If we can use all of our senses to change and rewrite, then we'll know when the words resonate in our minds or hearts or memories or wherever we write from.
Katrina Grigg-Saito is the Fiction Editor of The Drum Literary Magazine
The DrumSee other articles by The Drum