Monday, 14 May 2012

The Voice

I'm not going to be talking about Jessie J, Tom Jones or swivelling chairs in this post (there might be a picture though). I've just started to record the voiceover script for the documentary about me and my book on breast cancer surgery, Mermaids and Monsters.

Filming and voice-recording are so different from writing about one's experience. When I write, it's just me having a conversation with myself and I'm very comfortable with that. I don't mind sharing the fruits of that conversation with all the world, on this blog or in my book. I'll tell you anything. But speaking those inner thoughts out loud and talking into the microphone raises the stakes substantially. So does the idea of putting this film on YouTube. It's not nearly as private a process, and as I listen to myself I cringe. South London sloppiness! I'm the female Jonathan Woss! There can't be many people who like the sound of their own voice. It also feels weird because I'm reading the director James's words, and even though his voiceover script is based on things I've said or written, the words don't feel like they belong to me.

Doing the voiceover doesn't come easy, and as I play the recording of part one back I can think of all sorts of changes I would like to make. But that's James's job, so I dutifully read his script the way he wants it, and then I read the script my way so I don't feel like I'm being told what to say. That feels better. I relax even further when I remember how multi-dimensional the film is and how many other voices are involved. Historians, archivists, my surgeon, the breast care nurse, other patients past and present are all an integral part of the final cut. I feel a surge of relief and confidence, and I swing around on my chair, Jessie J style in my leopard print dressing gown, ready to record part two.

Jessie J. 
My dressing gown.

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