Writing Chronicles: Happiness & Disappointment

The Happiness

Last week, I accepted a writing assignment to interview an actor. He’s quite possibly the sexiest, hottest man on the planet to me. Wait, let me scratch that. I didn’t accept the assignment. I volunteered and the magazine accepted. Either way I was ecstatic because of the writing slump. The editor even showed interest in a pitch I sent. I felt like God had immediately answered my prayer. And he did, but I do know that I need to write for GP (general purposes), not just because I have an assignment. I’ve been doing that (eventually, I’ll post the stories here).

Anyway, I finally stepped into the new millennium and bought this:

It’s the Olympus Mini Tele-Recording Device from Radio Shack. I used it record my phone interview. I used my cell and even though the reviews suggest that it can be used for landlines, I don’t buy it. I had to put my cell on speaker.

The interview went well until I realized 20 minutes into it that the mic was on the floor. I had the cell next to the mic on the voice recorder, but the mini-was plugged in. Oh God, the horror! I’d been taking notes, but I’d missed a large chunk of the dialogue.

After I came down from my high from the interview (are any other writers star struck even over the phone??), I immediately played the tape back, praying that it was audible. It was! I listed to about one minute and turned it off.

The Disappointment

I sat down this evening to transcribe the interview (about 40 minutes). It was a great interview because he did most of the talking. In general conversation, he answered a lot of my questions before I asked them. BUT, I turned the recorder on and was mortified. (Disclaimer: I was extremely close the mic so my voice was a bit altered.)

I sound terrible!!

Ugh. Just ugh. Have you heard my rant about my “accent”? When I visited DC and New York, I was constantly in mini-arguments about my “accent”. I walked into a Subway on 29th street in NYC. I spoke (because that’s what Southerners do). I belted out a big, “Hey, how you doing?” Before I could ask if they had any double chocolate chip cookies, the only guy in there asked me if I was from Alabama. WTF? I have since learned that Alabama is New Yorker’s “go-to” state in reference to the South.

In DC for the Inauguration, sitting in the back of the police car with my girls (don’t ask–read this), the male officer clowned my accent for atleast an hour. The guy we rode around Club Love with got a kick out of anything that came out of my mouth. Again, don’t ask.

I have a twang. I know this. Check the blog profile and you will see that I’m from Memphis. I can’t get away from it. I’m an oral communications instructor and from the sounds of that tape, I should be a student. I talk. That’s what I do for a living. Why in the hell do I sound like I need to be in Harpo’s Juke Joint?

I will say that I didn’t totally have my “speaking” voice on. I was a little comfortable during that interview. I’m trying to find my interviewer style. I want to walk the fine line between formal (out of respect for the interviewee and the publication) and downright right real. The subject is more likely to talk openly if they think the journalist is genuine and makes them feel comfortable.

The bottom line is I’m definitely looking for voice coaches. I think I’m going to have nightmares about this.

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