Arguably, however a narrator judges APAC’s fundamental worth, the determination to attend, or not, is also likely to be arbitrated by uniquely personal concerns. Ultimately, what’s efficacious for one narrator may be misguided for another. That said, I can certainly investigate my reasons to attend, and hope that what I deduce—albeit anecdotally and less than rigorously—has at least some application for others.
Reflexively, I begin with self-interest. And maybe that’s where I should end. Or maybe not.
And as I delve into that somewhat tiring cliché, perhaps self-interest is worth examining in order to arrive at a more precise and coherent definition, at least for me. After all, self-interest is the first reason that came to mind.
Self-interest: a kind of definition
I’ll define my self—who I am—as an unknowable source of mystery to me that houses, among other enigmas, an opaque agglomeration of subconscious and conscious desires. I’ll suggest that at least some of those desires could be regarded as interests (maybe needs). Thinking reductively about next week’s conference, I believe that my interests are twofold: professional and social.
My professional interests are served by networking with publishers who may employ me, and engaging narrators I may eventually have the opportunity to direct or teach. Clearly, money is a significant component of, or even a euphemism for, professional self-interest. Therefore, attending a gathering of people who may be predisposed to solicit my professional services is one meaningful measure of APAC’s appeal.
Aside from money, interacting with peers, colleagues and industry professionals at APAC fulfills a professional yearning to be recognized and appreciated by those very people. I’ll be speaking on a panel this year, and that privilege (despite my pique at being compelled to fork over a discounted registration fee for that privilege—seriously?!) permits me to share my experience and expertise with attendees. Professional recognition is rewarding; it engenders in me a feeling of appreciation, self-esteem and self-worth. I am truly flattered that the people I work with deem my thoughts about audiobook performance worthy of public dissemination.
Since my well-being is not wholly dependent on or dictated by what I earn from producing/directing and teaching, the benefit I accrue from schmoozing publishers who might employ me, or actors who might solicit me to teach, isn’t enough to ensure I’ll attend. But connecting to narrators (many of whom I have an un-abiding affinity for) and industry professionals (many of whom I deeply respect and have known for what feels like a century) is more than enough to keep me from missing this annual conference.
The more I contemplate social, the more I associate my existential eggs with engaging narrators: They are the heart, the soul, the reason audiobooks exist. I feel a shared sense of purpose with narrators, especially those I’ve directed and coached. I am aware of their aspirations as performers; I enjoy being privy to their hopes and desires that emerge subtly, bubbly, deferentially, often with aplomb, and sometimes with the nuance of a police siren. I am sensitive to a performer’s solicitous discourse, whose surface language shrouds oscillating vulnerability, but evinces passion and humanity. I percolate in front of that humanity. I revel in the often brief, but coalescing encounters that communicate respect, commonality and, yes, self-interest: a quick hug, a too-hyperbolic resume review, forced admiration proffering, jocular barbs meant to bond and reflect appreciation. It’s all good: I get it, and I enjoy the exchanges.
The more I evaluate these duel self-interests, the higher the priority I assign to social, which sounds kind of like a squishy pejorative: ephemeral and vacuous. Too close to socializing for comfort. But socializing works for me, especially the particular kind of socializing I’d call Johnny Hellering: high-octane, verbal twerking on helium. Of course, I am rewarded by more prosaic palaver with familiar narrators and those newly introduced: It’s never enough of a good thing. The sum of these interactions—even while I feel like a hurtling pinball bouncing from one networking attendee to another—more than compensates for the discount I’m compelled to pay this year.
Oh, sure, there’s a bunch of things that annoy me about APAC. I have complaints—maybe not galore, but I have ‘em. Serious misgivings. But obviously, they aren’t keeping me at home, are they.
Stepping deeper into APAC, and what’s-in-it-for-me, I’m more certain now than when I began this post that when I greet the first of the many narrators that have rewarded me with their work and kindness and friendship over the past couple of decades (Sorry, Aunt Mary—always the exception), the primary reason I attend APAC will clearly reveal itself.
I recently finished working with the talented narrator (and former workshop participant) Sandy Rustin, and will continue in June with Elizabeth Ashley, who is narrating John Lahr’s meaty and fascinating biography of Tennessee Williams. And coming up, a book with veteran narrator and former workshop member, Caitlin Davies.
Future Narrator’s Workshops:
Master Class Workshop in NYC –tba, but thinking Saturday, Nov. 1.
For information contact: Michele Cobb: firstname.lastname@example.org