My husband asked if I was going to appear on Radio 4. No, I’m not on Radio Bore, but in a few days time I can be heard on Sudbury Newstalk, an audio magazine for visually impaired people. I understand that there are 83 such people listening to this service in south Suffolk, including some living in residential homes. My piece, a short story, entitled Burnt Down, based upon a childhood experience of being spooked by a burnt-out cafe in a park, was the only piece of fiction. Other contributions included an article on travel tour guides, a reminiscence of watching Royalty, gardening tips and a quiz ; I think that the balance was probably right.
I got to know about this opportunity through my real writing group and, being genuinely very busy, I put off checking when their deadline was until… Well, when I did look it up one afternoon, it was that evening… soooo…. I got to work, finishing my 800 word contribution at about 12.20am. I DON’T WRITE FAST! Sally Quilford, she can write very fast, a novel in a month. Me, I feel very vulnerable when I have to write fast, quite sure I’m writing rubbish, but on this occasion it was OK. A few days later, though, I did look at what I’d written and make major changes, including a totally different ending, and the later version I submitted to the (real) writing group yesterday. However, this morning, when I retrieved the original version – slightly tricky because I’d saved over it – I realised that the very raw first version wasn’t so bad after all. Ho-hum. Do I edit too much?
Doing the actual recording was daunting, even though I’m used to standing up in front of a class and speaking spontaneously. Not only had I never been in a radio studio before, not only had I never read one of my stories aloud before, but I know I gabble when I read lessons in church. I can never get the microphone by the lectern in the right place and people (well, my husband) always says he can’t hear me. Dear Reader, I was sitting in a proper radio studio, with a very nice young man sitting at a mixing desk with headphones on, counting the people on before me ‘3-2-1’, a proper presenter, and a desk with two microphones on it… and everyone else had done it before. I was quite sure I would stumble, stutter, gabble, cough, sneeze, drop my pages… But – I know it’s one of the things people always say – but once I started reading I was able just to immerse myself in the story. And I managed to do some of the dialogue in a Leicester accent. I was exhausted at the end, just wanted to go home, even though I was sort of buzzing too.
So, I’ve got an idea for another story about an elderly actress who turns to radio. Now I can write it.
The picture below is a photo of a sign in a cafe in India, quirky and funny but not really relevant to this post.