Walking out of my bedroom this morning, I glanced at a photo on the wall. It has been there for years so it normally wouldn’t register, but today it did, and it got me reminiscing.
The photo is of my wife and myself on our wedding day. She looks beautiful in her custom made, perfectly fitting dress. I look happy but frumpy in my four sizes too big rented tux. After my internal cringe fades, I think back to the beginning of our married life.
I will have more to say about my wedding and honeymoon in the next episode of The TL;DR Voice-Over Blog, so stay tuned. Don’t worry—it all ties into voice-over!
My wife and her family have taught me that memories are important to memorialize and review. I think this is especially true of beginnings. Photos, souvenirs, mementos, whatever it is, these things help us remember important times in our lives and serve as touchpoints to the motivations behind the choices we made. They can be educational, and have the power to help us through the tough times by reinvigorating our motivation.
Do you have things from your voice-over adventure you can look back on that refocus you and refuel your fire? Your first business plan maybe? A list of early goals? A recording from an early coaching session?
Thinking about getting started as a voice talent led me to re-watching the one-on-one coaching sessions I did with J. Michael Collins a couple years ago. It wasn’t always easy to watch. In fact, it was frequently brutal. As helpful as looking back at beginnings can be, it can also be difficult.
I wasn’t a complete rookie, but I looked like a deer in the headlights, dazed and confused. Listening back, there was cringe after cringe as I listened to my seemingly endless pickups of pickups which were pickups from other pickups until there was nothing left but pickups. The times I tried valiantly to show how much I knew, only to reveal in bright shining colors how much I didn’t. And the incessant throat clearing! Oh my effing god! Now I know why my wife has threatened to divorce me if I don’t stop. I feel bad for both her and in this case, JMC.
A close look
To take full advantage of the replay, one of the things I did was to watch J. Michael very carefully whenever I was reading. He has a pretty good poker face, but watching closely I could sometimes get hints of what he was thinking. The subtle reddening of face and the bunched up neck muscles as he clenched his jaw was one clue. Hiding his face in his hands and sobbing was another. Then there were those times when he bit his tongue until there was blood dripping down his face; well, you get the picture. As you can see, I am excellent at reading the hidden subtext of body language.
Honestly, I was impressed with J. Michael all over again. The sheer volume of knowledge and insight he shared was incredible. His patience, his understanding, his ability to just remain tolerant throughout is amazing. He never faltered from being the consummate professional that he is. I’ll never know how he kept going to the end of our sessions; I certainly wasn’t paying him enough to compensate for the experience.
Not all bad
Putting aside my internal embarrassment, I had to admit to myself there was a lot to appreciate in this backward glance. It wasn’t all bad. The basic ingredients were there, and once in a while I actually did pretty well. Looking at where I have come from and how much I have learned and grown in so short a time is reassuring. Knowing that I have grown gives me confidence I can continue.
So let me ask again, do you have things you can look back at to remind you about why you got started in voice-over in the first place? Are there written goals you can look back on to recognize how much you have accomplished, or like me, early recordings you can play to learn how far you have come?
Reviewing old beginnings can be a great way to begin new ones, whether it is a new year or a new phase in your voice-over career. Let your history guide you as you make new goals for the future. Take the confidence boost that come from seeing the progress you have made and apply it to learning new things and taking more performance risks. It may be difficult at times, but try to focus on the things that are right, good, and propel you forward.
Just a reminder, next time will be episode two of Old Beginnings, where I will expound on my honeymoon, Renaissance art, and why I can find beauty in where I am right now, even though it isn’t where I want to be.