An *audio* memoir? R U nuts?

CharicatureI have one good recording of my father’s voice. He made it just a few years before he died, and I’m sure he had no intention of leaving it as a way to be remembered. Instead, he did it to practice a speech he would be giving at his local Toastmaster’s club. I made copies for my brothers and sister on cassette tape — high tech at the time! — and gave them as Christmas gifts.

The real gift, however, came from Dad. Hearing the laughter in his voice, the way he pronounced certain words and paused between others still CA smile 1974brings a tear to my eye and a smile to my lips. A sad one, to be sure, but one I have never, ever, regretted.

Lately, I’ve thought a lot about that recording but not because of its mechanical “quality,” complete with coughs, the rattle of paper, and the clink of a coffee cup in a saucer. None of that matters. What does matter, is the voice. His. And except for that recording, it’s gone forever.

Some of my memoir writing students have expressed concerns over their grammar and punctuation. They’re concerned that people will see the flaws in their writing and think less of them. My assurances that grammar gaffs are easy to spot and fix haven’t convinced them. That’s when I suggested a way around the problem: an audio memoir.

One of the great things about a recorded voice, is that few people get to see the script the speaker’s working from. When I suggested to my students that they consider recording what they’ve written, it provided a way out of their syntactical dilemma. Forget the less-than-perfect grammar andDollarphotoclub_33938903 sm punctuation; instead, cut to what’s really important: the story, delivered in the only voice that matters!

For the next few posts, I’m going to focus on creating audio memoirs — tips and techniques for “telling” stories, software and hardware to consider (though most computers these days have everything you need built-in), and how to take advantage of digital media to add photos, video, and music.

So, here goes….

One of the easiest ways to get started, without actually committing to a “real” memoir project, is to take advantage of a recordable storybook. These have been around for years, and the prices have dropped significantly. Hallmark sold the first ones for $39.95. Now you can get them from Amazon, among other places, for less than $10.

In addition to the usual story fare like “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” there are both scripted and non-scripted recordables that allow you to tell either “a story” written and illustrated by someone else, or your very own story. If you have small children or grandchildren, these alone may satisfy your needs.

My hope, however, is that such kit-form books will only whet your appetite for the real thing — your story, as only you can tell it.

–Josh

About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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3 Responses to An *audio* memoir? R U nuts?

  1. J.R. Langston says:

    Josh, I enjoyed your comments about Dad and also the pictures. The painting by Corky greets us when we come home everyday and the other photo is classic of him. Good memories for sure!
    Thanks for the memories…………JR

  2. Interesting! I had never heard of those books.

  3. An-l says:

    This is great advise — ironicially, this morning when Brent and, my daughter-in-law, Angela called and sang Happy Birthday to me — Angela said, “Sorry, you didn’t get to tape this one.” I have recorded my phone message, year after year, on my birthday of family and fiends call to wish me a happy one. Most of them are singing, and most years, on my BD, I pull them out and play them back. It’s so much fun hearing them all sing, especially the grandchildren when they were younger, or listening to wishes from friends, (Some who have gone on or I haven’t heard from in years.) I’m sure I’ll listen to them later today.. .

    I also, have cassette tapes of my Mother singing along with me playing the piano, and some of us singing together. I have tapes of the grandchildren singing, laughing and talking when they were younger. I cherish them and other family recording I’ve saved through the years. Some of them my children have already selected to be theirs someday.

    Thanks, as usual, for this wonderful memoir advise. Annel

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