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January Blues?

How is it that January has both flown by and also seemed to have 985 days in it?  I am not one for launching into the new year all guns blazing.  I take my cue from the trees who are still waiting to emerge from winter slumber.

That is not to say that January isn’t an important month of recommitment and growth.  I am determined to do what must be done.  And this January that was the opportunity to hit the slopes with my husband in our first trip skiing in 2 years and our longest time away as just a couple for 14 years!

As well as that I have been recommitting to audiobook work, updating my samples and signing up for the APA Conference (unfortunately online again this year instead of needing a trip to NY). I have been walking my dog and ferrying my children to classes, signing up for Film Club London to hone my onscreen acting skills and possible explore opportunities there.

My recently written play has been tidied up and I’m waiting to decide where to take it next, listening out for inspiration.  In the meantime the novel idea that won’t let me go has been dusted off and research reinvigorated as I determine that this is the year I will write that first draft.

All these things took me through January with a certain amount of ease, waiting for brighter days ahead but enjoying the days that came my way nonetheless.

And then February arrived, a step closer to Spring, and with it, Covid.  After 2 years and 3 vaccines where our whole household has remained miraculously clear of signs of the virus, I caught it from an unknown source.  Thankfully the milder strain and the immunity afforded by the vaccines mean it has not been serious, more like a bad cold than a severe respiratory infection.

So I rejigged my recording calendar and settled down on my sofa with Netflix and a slew of movies to watch, grateful my experience of illness is a very first world one.  I can’t say it was fun and the loneliness of being isolated from my family, just the other side of a glass door, did get to me.  I didn’t become a Mum or a wife so I could sit in another room watching, I wanted to be with them.

But during this time some unexpected shoots began to arrive, lifting my spirits and reminding me that I am blessed to have work I love waiting for me once I recover.  I found a review on Audiofile magazine for Medusa’s Ankles.

This was a book I gave up my October birthday week holiday for, and it was well worth it.  I have long been a fan of A.S. Byatt and was extremely excited to be tasting her wonderful words along with my birthday chocolate!  It was a challenging book to narrate, with so many richly woven stories and intriguing characters, both human and magical, ranging across different cultures and countries, from Iceland to the Middle East.  At one point there was even an exclamation in Icelandic that took some work to perfect!

It made me smile every day and gave me a warm glow of joy whenever I entered the booth.  It was a great gift.  That it has been so well received is icing on my very rich birthday cake.

A couple of days later I was rifling through The Times on Saturday and took a look at the Audiobook of the Week; I do this every week hoping but not expecting to see my name blinking back at me.  This time, it did, again for a collection of fairy tales in Fairy Tellers by Nicholas Jubber.

I narrated these with Heavy Entertainment in a studio in Soho that was where I narrated my very first audiobook, little realising that 5 years and 270 books later I’d still be invited back to narrate in this wonderful place.

As if this wasn’t enough I read The Sunday Times and found myself recognising the Children’s Book of the Week, only to realise that I had narrated The Bird Singers in January!  This was another tale steeped in myths and legends, like all the best stories.

So my work is bringing some recognition with it, in the depths of winter, while I recover from Covid.  And while the biggest prize is to do work I love with people I like and be able to mix that with the family and community I cherish, a little recognition is always nice.

I have been described as “admirable” and “silky-voiced” which definitely appeals to my ego, and to my pride in work well done.  Reading alone into a microphone to an imagined audience, that only later becomes real, can feel isolating so it is lovely when the void talks back in such an affirming way.

It is for that reason I am bringing together a small community of UK audiobook narrators to support and nourish each other, through social interaction, sharing concerns and having a bit of a play.  Let me know if you’d like to join our next meet up or our weekly online gatherings!

Esther X

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