Category Archives: What it is that I actually do?

Creating a radio play with no experience.

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Creating a radio play with no experience.

I have decided to give myself a challenge The challenge is to create a radio play from scratch with no experience and the most basic of tools. The reason I have given myself this challenge is out of necessity. I have been lucky enough to have been asked to create a radio play for the radio station I am volunteering on. It is too good an opportunity to let me let little things like having no budget, no experience, no real equipment or even a script (yet!) stop me from having a go. Actually, I do have experience of writing plays, if not radio plays. I am looking at this as a transferable skill which seems a good enough tactic on my CV. I thought it might prove amusing and possibly informative (although this is far from a how to guide) for me to detail how I go about doing this.

Phase 1 – Assess everything (Or, Assess everything that you know about now and come back to it later when you have found out things you didn’t know you needed to know).

The good thing about starting from a position of no knowledge is that it is inevitable I will make mistakes. As long as I learn from them, I am fine with that. My cunning plan is to learn from my mistakes before I make them on the actual radio play. Let me explain. I am currently trying to figure out how to make the radio play sound like I want it to. My basic problem with radio plays is that they sound ‘fake’. Something about them doesn’t ring true. I know this is an inevitable outcome from the medium itself, but I am wondering if there is a way to play around with it, like a radio equivalent of how hand held cameras are used to give the impression of jagged fast movements. So, I want to find out if I can make the radio play sound like I want it to come out as before I write the entire thing and find out I can’t make it sound right. There is a logic in there somewhere. It might be the pan for gold type of logic, but if you sift long enough, you will find a little gold nugget. Probably.

When not knowing, I am left with experimenting and seeing what does and doesn’t work. Later on tonight I am going to play with the recording equipment and record scenes in different rooms, outside, in a car etc to see what sounds good and what doesn’t. I want to see if I can record it in a way that sounds more realistic. Fingers crossed. I am going to ignore the possibility that it still won’t sound good as I am all about the positive outlook these days and I want to give it a chance to do its funky positive outlook stuff.

I have assessed my budget. It consists of my time and energy and little else. Although, I have heard that the value of my time and energy has recently gone up on the stock market, so you better buy your shares now before they either become too expensive or lose all value. (Note to self – work on self-promotion and don’t use the phrase ‘lose all value’ in relation to myself).

With no money, I am relying on being inventive, which is a fun exercise in its own right. One fun fact that I found out from my research was that even if you buy a sound effect cd, it does not give you copyright to use that sound effect on a radio play. Is it just me, or does this seem a kind of sucky thing to do? You can buy it, but you can’t use it. Ok, I won’t buy it then.

But David, how will you get your sound effects? Where is the ‘fun’ in this exercise? By jimmy by jove, that is indeed a splendid question. Have a badge.

Actually, it is not that inventive. It is damn practical though, and I am fairly certain that practical is just as sexy as inventive. Right? (Sighing voice in my own head – Yes David. Practical is very sexy).Huzzah! I thought so. So, when sound effects are beyond a budget, break out the trusty mobile phone (a modern day version of a swiss army knife) and find the record button. Sound effects ahoy! I am considering (with a fairly unprofessional part of my brain) writing certain scenes just so I can have fun creating the sound effects for them. Might give it a bit of practise first.

Drum roll…

Here is something that might prove useful to the reader. I found out that you can use itunes to convert audio files from one format to another. I recorded a 30 secs of background bar noise on Valentines day (I know, I am a romantic soul) and when I went to edit it, it would not go into Audacity (awesome free editing software) as it was. A quick internet search (Google is my friend) and I found out you can convert a wave4 file to an mp3 via itunes. Imagine that! itunes is actually useful for something. I am going to play around more with how sound effects and dialogue work when put together, but I think I can work it out.

With the script, I am on more familiar ground. I have written quite a few plays and with some thought and imagination, I believe I can transfer what I know about stage plays to a radio play. I am by dint of my situation, going to keep the story as simple as I can in terms of not giving myself sweeping battle scenes to try and convey through sound alone. I am thinking about a radio play about the therapist/client relationship (write what you know and all that). I think it will fit well with what I have in mind. There will be more to it than that obviously. As soon as I have written it, I will let you know. Well, not too much. Spoilers need to be avoided.

Apart from all that, I just need to find some actors who will work for free, or at the most tea and biscuits (you will need to provide your own biscuits) and then pray that all the hard work that goes into it doesn’t get ruined by me in the editing process. Or that people actually like the radio play once it is aired. Meh, one step at a time.

That is about it for phase 1. It is a fairly general phase I grant you. I will get into the specifics when I know what they are. Until then…

Take care buddies,

David.

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Back to the blog.

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Back to the blog.

Dear blog. I am sorry for neglecting you. No, no, honestly, I was thinking about you the whole time I was doing the radio show. No, you haven’t gained weight. It isn’t that I would rather spend time on radio plays than writing my blog. I just got busy is all.

Sorry about that. I was getting the cold shoulder from my blog for neglecting it, so I thought I had best explain. Life has been interesting of late. Since the start of the year, I have lucky enough to have several opportunities presented to me. I say opportunities because they will take a lot of hard work to make anything of, but I do gladly thank the universe for at least giving me a chance to have a go and see what I can do.

First off, the radio show is a lot of fun. There is a beauty to being on a small community radio station with no experience as it has forced me to learn new things. I think my brain has missed that challenge of learning. Doing the radio show has indirectly taught me about a ton of things that seem to fit together like a succession of jigsaw pieces that initially do not appear to connect, or even be part of the same puzzle, but when viewed from afar, make up a new interconnected jigsaw of all the things I needed to know before I knew I needed to know them.

I think an example is deserved to make sense of that last sentence. So, I was learning how to go about doing my first recorded interview for the show. I spoke with a member of staff from Combat Stress and afterwards, I needed to edit out my awkward pauses, strange combination of words, overuse of the words ‘excellent, fantastic and ok’ and the bizarre and sudden desire for my voice to rehash it’s ‘going through puberty’ vocal range. In my defense, it was my first interview and I was terrified I would fail to record it, or delete it when editing or save it to the wrong type of audio file. To give a indicator of my level of ineptitude, it came to me as a surprise that there were different types of audio files.

Aside – If you are going to try your hand at editing audio, try out Audacity. It is excellent and free!

So, once I had figured how to use the software and the interview was fit to air, I thought no more about Audacity and editing audio for a few days. Then, it was suggested that I might like to write and produce a radio play for the station. Hold on a second I thought. I know how to edit audio now, so can I use my new found knowledge to make a radio play? After a bit of research and experimentation, it seems that I can. In theory anyway, it might turn out differently in practise.

I do find it interesting that sometimes things just fit together. I hadn’t thought of doing a radio play for ages and then I knew how to potentially make one before I knew I was going to make one. The knowledge was already there ready for use. Spooky!

The other thing I have been doing is researching how to turn a book into an ebook. I followed an excellent string of posts on http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2015/02/09/formatting-your-own-ebook-q-a-with-david-cronin/ and learnt a lot. It seems a bit daunting at first but if you take in each part and then digest, it makes sense as a whole at the end. I followed the advice and used the Calibre ebook manager to see what my book would look like as an ebook. It was mostly good. That is the thing about DIY, it can take a few attempts before the door stops coming off the hinges.

Once I have tested and retested the ebook format, I need to get going with the marketing thing. As you can probably tell, marketing is next on my list to research and it looks more confusing than the ebook process. Still, one step at a time. I know I need to work on my social media presence. Sadly, I have learnt through doing the radio show that being on twitter/Facebook lots is just a pain in the bum. At least I know what a # and @ sign are meant to be used for now. That and favoriting something on twitter is not the same as liking something on Facebook.

It seems to me that I am being taught the things I need to know for what I am going to do next without clearly knowing what I am doing next. Or not having planned things as my next course of action. I think it has been a while since I went with the flow and simply saw what happens from trying something. I like being back in that frame of mind.

Take care buddies,

David.

What next?

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What next?

What next? This is the question I am asking myself at the moment. As I feel this is going to be a post that that is therapeutic for me rather than something I think people will be desperate to read (but hoping a few people do anyway) I figure I might as well be honest.

I thought I would have an agent for my book by now. Call it what you will; overly optimistic, using a positive mental attitude, misguided, arrogant or plain stupid, it all boils down to this feeling of ‘Dammit. Why don’t I have an agent yet?’ Now, I know it takes time and even the best writers get rejected etc etc etc but it feels like when you are single and people say ‘Don’t worry. You will find someone. The right person for you is out there.’ Now this is great advice, but it doesn’t stop the loneliness of being single and the thoughts of ‘Screw that. I want someone now!’

Yet I also know it is out of my hands now. I have made the book as good as I can and the rest lies in the whims of capricious fate/agents. It is much like chucking your baby out into the world alone and saying ‘Good luck buddy.’ You hope it will be fine, but once you have let go, it is out of your hands.

Now I face an almost daily challenge between trying to remain positive and influence the universe with my willpower (much like a modern day Sauron but of a more benevolent nature) and thinking ‘Well, this isn’t working, so I need to try something else or something different.

What is that pull to do something else when your current project doesn’t seem to working? Actually, scratch that, what is that push to do something different? A pull feels like an attraction. A push feels like fear. I feel more pushed than pulled at present.

I think fear is a good word. Terrified is better. What if I can’t make one of my dreams in life come true through my own inability to do so? Wow, I have hit a new level of power in being able to bum myself out. Self-doubt is a real bugger. Self-doubt influenced by others is worse.

So, what to do next? My brain, helpful as ever is currently playing the lyrics to ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ in my head.

(The cursor is blinking at me waiting for a conclusion).

Well tough luck Mr Cursor. If don’t get a conclusion then you certainly don’t.

(Blink, blink, blink.)

It is hard to trust the universe when it has been unkind to you. It is hard to trust karma when you try to do good things and it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated. It is hard to have faith in the future when you know the future is a place of surprising twists (both good and bad) that you can never see coming.

All that we have left is ourselves. Our belief, our courage, our hope and our strength to carry on when it all seems impossible. Aside from giving up, what else is there?

And that Mr Cursor is all the conclusion you are going to get.

Take care buddies,

David.

Daves of the Week – First Show.

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Daves of the Week – First Show.

We did our first show on Friday 16th Jan and I must say I had a fantastic time.

Let me set the scene for you. I walked to the station an hour before the show started as we wanted to get ready and try and calm down before the show at 9.00pm. This only partially worked. Nothing was going to allay our nerves completely. I arrived. The lights were on and the foyer looked busy. ‘Ooh,’ I thought. ‘They are throwing us a party to celebrate.’ Have I mentioned before I have a slightly overactive imagination?

In fact, it was more awesome than a party. A group of local Scouts were on the show before us taking turns to talk to the presenter about all things Scouty. How cool is that? Seriously, what a great experience to be given. I even heard how to make a fire, which is good as it has been a very long time since I was a Scout so I have no chance of remembering.

Then before we knew it was time to go on air. Our very kindly, patient and helpful Phil reminded us how to operate the controls. I was the pilot for the evening so I was in charge of the little beauty below. I am a bit of a geek at heart but look at the technological wonder of it. So many lights and switches. Oooh!

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Fun story. Five minutes before we went live, the computer decided to be funny and re-boot the system. This entailed it having to reload the 28,000 songs on the system. We were told ‘This virtually never happens.’ So I just laughed and thought ‘Lucky us.’ Seriously, it was fine. I am a little bit impressed it didn’t throw us off our game, well, if we had any game to begin with, but I think we managed with admirable English resolve. Stiff upper lip and all that.

I managed not to break the controls or have dead air (Yay me!) and I think I ran the controls smoothly enough. I am being gentle on myself as it was my first time. (That sounds a bit dodgy right?) Anyways, we had a very kind person mention that they could hear us rubbing our hands together when on air. The microphones are very sensitive and this combined with my excessive palm sweat due to nerves (yes, I know, I am a sexy beast) meant that people could hear it. I apologised and sat on my hands.

I also had a very bad back (I still do) so I was kindly given some painkillers. I did feel a bit rock and roll as within twenty minutes of being on air I was popping pills. Paracetamols for a bad back is not exactly Keith Moon drug use, but still…a tiny bit rock and roll? Surely?

The first hour was a bit bitty, but we relaxed more in the second half and things went more smoothly. We even got some people to message us with song requests and comments for our discussion topic, which is not bad for a first show. The time flew by and we were into the last ten minutes of the show.

After the show we even got to record a quick voice over to advertise our show on the station. It took thirty seconds. Seriously, I have said it once and I will say it again. Technology is awesome.

Feeling slightly dehydrated through nervous sweat and excited/relieved the first show being done, we went to a pub across the road for a celebratory pint. Which I think is altogether the correct thing to do.

Our second show is Friday 23rd Jan. Things will really start to ramp up in Feb as we have a few new things for the show and other exciting shenanigans.

You can find out more on our FB page

https://www.facebook.com/davesoftheweek

and while you are there, please feel free to like, share, tell your friends etc.

Take care buddies,

David.

Hitting the Airwaves Radio Stylie.

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Hitting the Airwaves Radio Stylie.

Exciting news! I am going to be co-hosting a radio show (with another David) on Surrey Hills Community Radio. We have been given the 9.00pm – 11.00pm slot on a Friday night, so I think that is pretty rock n’ roll.

I am possibly way too excited to be on a local community radio show. The reason I am excited is that I love it on car journeys when the London radio stations lose signal and a lovely local radio station comes on and tells me all about the news that is happening in the area. It feels like a welcome to town. Now, I get to be that person. We have a cool show lined up and it feels nice to be doing something that is centered on the area I live. I mean, Leatherhead has an annual Duck Race, and how many places can say the same?

The other really cool thing I have found (I know I am using the word cool a lot, but I am in a good mood, so go with it) is that because the radio show is broadcast through an online app, people can listen to it in other countries too. I am just saying, and I am in no way hinting that people I know abroad should listen to the show. But you should. Seriously.

On a side note, it is an interesting notion that I have spent six months getting to know some very awesome music types and I had no intention of being on the radio. It is serendipitous that I know some really good up and coming bands and musicians so I can play them on air.

I am going to the studio tonight (which is five minutes from where I live, so that was very nice of them to be so considerate) to be shown the ropes, which is odd as I would imagine there would be more buttons and headphones involved, yet, I am the novice here, so I am remaining open minded. I will post pictures tomorrow and let you know how it went. I will also post when the first show is coming out and what will be on it.

There will be a website going up soon (created by the lovely Gauri) and I will link it when it is up.

Until then, you can listen to the show online on the link below or get the app for your phone and listen to it on the go. I have been listening to it while I have written this post. So far, The Eagles and Elton John. Good tunes so a good sign.

http://www.surreyhillsradio.co.uk/

I am off to practise my radio voice. Eeeeeeeeeee!

Take care buddies,

David.

David’s Guide to House Husbandry.

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David’s Guide to House Husbandry.

(Probably best if this is not taken too seriously).

As I lay in bed this morning, it occurred to me that I have done the same thing for the past three mornings. I have woken up before Gauri and laid there contentedly for a while. Waking up before Gauri is not an unusual thing. There are a few reasons for this. One is that my bowels run like clockwork. Seriously, you could set your watch by them. Although why you would want to, seeing as we live in age of technical wonder, is completely beyond me. The second reason is that Gauri sets her alarm an hour before she has to get up and it goes off every ten minutes. This is no problem for her as she falls back asleep instantly. I have actually seen her fall asleep as she turns off the alarm. In her defence, she works crazy hard. It is not a problem for me either as I like laying there next to her.So, as I lay there I realised a few things. One, the lyrics to ‘Don’t want to miss a thing’ are spot on in terms of me and what I think first thing in the morning. I do actually lay there and listen to her breathe. It is also peaceful and quiet in the morning and it gives me a chance to think before the ear worm songs kick in and I am left with the same lyrics ticking over in my brain.

The second thing I was thinking about what I was going to do with my day. As the post title suggests, I am a house husband now, so my planning involved things like, laundry, cleaning and cooking. Planning the cooking was the easiest as we have a fridge full of leftovers, so I am already ahead of the game. Sweet! I didn’t know I was a househusband until a while ago when I got called a ‘new age husband.’ I had to look it up and I can’t say I am fond of the name. I always imagine ‘new age’ as something to do with druids, stonehenge, cauldrons and potions; possibly made out of eye of newt. A house husband sounds better, but I am not married yet, so I am not sure if I am allowed to use it. As the word police have not yet broken down my door and told me not to, I will carry on using it for a bit.

So, I best get back to the point of this. I don’t know why I say that. I rarely have a point, and if I do, it is one that I hope people only take vague notice of. It is too much responsibility otherwise. Nonetheless, on the off chance you are new to house husbanding, I offer these tidbits of advice to use at your own peril.

Toilet Cleaning. 

Forget anything you have seen from any advert for any toilet cleaning product. It is all lies I tell ya. Use shop’s own brand toilet cleaner, otherwise known as coke. Seriously, 0.22p for two litres of the stuff. It will clean your toilet in a way you would not have conceived of. It will also cure you of any desire to drink coke ever again. Once you have seen how it cleans a toilet, it is impossible not to wonder what it is doing to your poor tummy.

Laundry. 

This is the part where my disclaimers kick in. I am at best, a poor laundry type person. Yes, I don’t know what a person who does laundry is called. At least I am owning up to it. I should know as I am one. Ah, the existential angst of not knowing what to call myself when I do laundry. Lord of the laundry? Speaking of laundry, I have to go and put it on ‘drain and spin’. Be right back.

Back.

Dammit. I just realised that if I were doing a doctorate like Gauri, I could call myself a ‘spin doctor’. Sadly, I am not doing one. If a great name occurs to you, please let me know. So, all I can really tell you about laundry is this. Do not mix whites with colours. Somethings can be washed, but not tumble dried. What marks the difference is a mystery to me. There are symbols on the clothes that are meant to tell me, but at my best guess, they are some form or ancient hieroglyphics. So, my advice is…wait. Yup. That’s it. I wait until Gauri comes back to check what I can safely wash and dry. She has an innate knowledge of how every single item of clothes she has should be laundered. This system is better than hoping for the best and running the risk of ruining a favoured item of clothing. One final idea. If you are ever making your own bread, wait until the dryer has finished. It is a great place to let bread rise.

Cooking.

I am not going to give out recipes. Unless someone really wants me to. In which case, mention what you are looking for in the comments and I will rustle up something. My main advice here is, get yourself a slow cooker. They are just the best. Cut up everything you need in the morning, bung it in the slow cooker and walk away. This leaves you with ample time to get other jobs done, and if you are lucky, the time to write and post on your blog. Six hours later, return and see what magic has taken place. Yes, my cookery show was cancelled due to it being very short and not that informative. It also means less things to wash up. Which is a blessing.

Washing Up. 

Sorry. No advice here. This job plain sucks. Ooh, wait, I do have one. Leave things to soak. This works for virtually everything, except scrambled egg. I think they could have used it cement the bricks to build the Great Wall of China the stuff is so ridiculously sticky.

Cleaning.

The eternal struggle. I try and look on the bright side of things. So, rather than think of it as an unwinnable war, I look at it as a chance for clearing my mind. It is a peaceful experience for me and I like to use it to ponder ideas for whatever I am writing. So, just Zen out and enjoy it. Advice? Oh yes. Er…old socks make for excellent dusters and, you can pretend they are little glove puppets when you get bored.

Hoovering. 

Now, this is not a job I am normally enthusiastic about, but since I have got little pet Degus, it has become more fun. They have a weird fear of the hoover and they squeak as aggressively as they can at it. The reason this is funny is that their squeaks are so damned cute that I can’t take it seriously. It would be like me threatening Mike Tyson. Does anyone know what the smell after hoovering is?

So, that is my advice for the moment. If you have any burning questions, then I will do my best to answer them.

Take care buddies,

David.

What Next?

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What Next?

Does anyone else find it really hard to write about themselves? I can write about other people and promote the hell out of them, but when it comes to me doing the same thing for myself, I have the same level of aversion that Vampires have to garlic. Still, I know that I am going to have to become better at selling myself (not in a whorish way, but then again, if agents don’t pick up my book soon…) so I am forcing myself to write this rather than running away and hiding. (I can’t tell you my hiding place, it is super special and defeats the point of hiding in the first place).

Now, I know this is not a stellar way to invite a reader to carry on going, but I figure that I have no idea what other people will like or not and I can’t try and please the whole world, so I will just write and if anyone cares to read it then it is an added bonus.

So, now therapy has been completed, I am thinking about what next for little ol’ me now I have more free time. It turns out, I have quite a lot going on. I sometimes get carried away (or enthusiastic as I prefer to think of it) and say yes to a lot of ideas. This is a good thing in that I get to work with cool people on a variety of different things. It is true, my head may have been a little scatty this week, but that really isn’t anything new.

So, these are my current projects. When they all turn into global successes, you can say you knew about them before anyone else and that you are irrefutably cool. Just don’t turn on me when I do make it by saying ‘Man, I knew all this before he got popular. Everyone else is joining the bandwagon). I don’t deserve that. I am good people.

My lovely little book ‘The Time Keepers’ Union’ is about to go off on another journey to agents. I have made it easy for agents this time by sending it a month before Christmas, so they can give me an awesome pressie by signing me up. That really is very kind of me I think.

‘Alien Nation’ – a one man play set in space is almost at completed first draft stage. It is completely different to anything I have written before, so thanks to Stewart Matthews for pushing me in new and exciting directions. Only downside, the films Gravity and Interstellar are killing me with their timings. I try and avoid anything similar to what I am working on for fear of anyone saying I am copying. I read a review of Interstellar where it mentions a certain scene and I literally shouted ‘Godammit.’ on a train as it was too similar to an idea I had and I knew I could no longer use it.

I am in the research phase of my next book idea. I can’t say too much, not because I am trying to build a sense of suspense, but because I do not know what it is going to be yet.

I have started working on a sitcom with someone. I won’t say who it is at the moment because I am trying to build a sense of suspense here. I am loving it so far and really looking forward to getting into it. On a side note, it is the first time in over ten years that I have written with anyone else. So long control freak side of me.

I am also working on a video blogging idea with another someone else. Please see the previous paragraph re: suspense building. I am not certain where it will go, but half the fun of things is finding out.

The songs for ‘The Orphic Blues’ musical are being written to go along with the script I wrote, so I am insanely excited about that and can’t wait to hear the songs. Why the excitement? Well, I have written plays before, but plays with music? That is an extra cherry on top situation.

Lastly, but certainly not leastly, I have an idea for a podcast type thing with my beloved other half. I need to do it soon before she gets her doctorate and becomes above all the silliness. Although, in my head I can hear her shout in her silly voice ‘I will never become above all the silliness.’ I did walk in the other day to find her singing ‘1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive.’ To her credit, and it is one of the many reasons I love her, she carried on when I walked in and finished the song. Atta girl.

I have one or two other possibilities in the pipeline and I will see how they go. I might tell you in due course. If you are nice that is. I can be easily bribed with cakes.

On that note, I best stop writing about what I write and get on with the actual writing.

Take care buddies,

David.