This week’s Facebook Group quandary comes from the Indie Audiobook Narrators and Producers Group. In it, a user asked if anyone with Auditory Sensitivity has tried to edit an audiobook and how that has affected them. I actually broke my self imposed rule and answered this in the group as well as here. I think it’s an important topic that doesn’t get discussed enough.
For those that don’t know noise sensitivity or Hyperacusis is a disorder that makes it difficult to deal with everyday sounds. From WebMD Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder that makes it hard to deal with everyday sounds. You might also hear it called sound or noise sensitivity. If you have it, certain sounds may seem unbearably loud even though people around you don’t seem to notice them. There is also Misophonia is a disorder in which certain noises trigger strong responses from you, including some reactions that others may perceive as unreasonable. Some great examples are the sound of people chewing loudly, or tapping a desk. I sometimes jokingly create a fictional Samuel L. Jackson quote that goes like this…”You call it Misophonia, I call it chewing with your M-Ffin, mouth shut”
The truth is, millions of people suffer from these issues. My daughter is one of them. If I examine myself closely, I probably do too. The diagnosis is difficult, and often a moving target. The symptoms can point to a host of issues, so it’s not alway cut and dry. In my daughter’s case the Doctor said Misophonia, then changed their mind. I personally think it’s still there. She’ll often freak out at my wife for chewing with her mouth open, or when me or her brothers stomp our feet too loudly.
So, as you can imagine for someone with noise sensitivity, listening very critically to voice over with highly sensitive speakers or headphones can be difficult. In some ways it can be helpful. I think Juan Carlos Bagnell (while admitting he suffers from Misophonia) said that in some ways, it gives him Super Powers when listening to audio! He’ll hear clicks, pops and echos that the a mere mortal will NEVER notice. Same has always gone for me. It became an issue, however, when I started to edit my own work. I spent SO much time listening and editing my voice over auditions that it would take me hours to complete. Every mouth click, breath, over pronounced S would drive me crazy! Audiobooks were even worse. I had no idea what was a reasonable breath versus what was my psychosis creeping in.
So how did I solve it? Outsourcing! It is a best practice as an audiobook narrator to outsource your editing and proofing anyway. It gives you time to focus on what you do best, narrating! It’s usually a higher paid skill as well, so it makes sense to spend more time on that than editing. That was the main reason I did it in the first place. It allowed me to finish books twice as fast and usually work on 2 at a time.
After a while, however, a funny thing happened. As I stopped listening to myself all the time, as well as listened back to the finished recordings my editors would send back, I started to be bothered less by extraneous mouth noise, breathing and the like. After all, if the professional editor who has done 100s of books deemed it okay, why wouldn’t I?
Now, while I still outsource audiobook, e-learning, and any other long form narration editing work, I do edit my auditions every day. And you know what? I hardly ever over analyze. Thanks to my FABULOUS editors, Christopher Rain and Natalie Stanfield for keeping me sane!