Writers Can’t Hide from the Mic – Not Even in Second Life!

by Joan Kremer on May 14, 2009 · 4 comments

in Adventures,Benefits of SL,Opportunities

I’m trying very hard to develop at least a minimal amount of affection for the sound of my voice.  It’s tough, youth health when I’ve hated hearing it for nearly half a century!  After all, I’m a writer!  You know — one of those people who can think as they type, but not as they talk

But thanks (I guess) to Second Life, I’m no longer hiding behind my written words alone. First, there was that scary thing called an “open mic.”

audio-meatmicOnly a few weeks after joining SL, I dragged myself onto a stage (hiding behind my avatar Alas Zerbino, of course!) and read some of my poetry and flash fiction stories aloud to an audience.  I actually did that several times!  Enough to learn the tricks of hiding most of the shakiness in my voice, anyway.

Then I was arm-twisted volunteered to facilitate a weekly open mic/feedback group for writers at The Learning Experience‘s Creative Showcase for Writers.  What I overlooked was the fact that, for writers who couldn’t use voice in SL, I’d have to read their writing for them.  And it’s amazing how many people don’t use voice in SL!  (Thankfully for me, the writing is really good and fun to read.)

Eventually I reached the point where my real-life dog Elvis did not run and hide when I plugged my headset into my computer.  (Some say he’s neurotic, but I think he was making a credible point.)  I actually grew somewhat comfortable — as long as there were no echoes of my voice that I had to listen to.

But one thing I’ve learned — the universe does not like it when you’re comfortable!  And sure enough, the next challenge came very quickly: a live radio show.

Holy crapola!!! This is where my writing gets me?  Straight to yet another microphone?  Yup.


Two awesome people who go by the avatar names of Kghia Gherardi and Simeon Beresford in Second Life run the fabulous Bookstacks Island for readers and writers in Second Life.  They also host an every-other-week radio show called Off The Shelf, which covers the literary scene in Second Life.  I love the show — I always learn new things about the SL writing community and other writers.  If you haven’t tuned in yet, do check it out.  It airs live on Radio Riel, the Internet radio station that’s based in Second Life, and you can listen to past broadcasts here.

But when they asked me to be a guest on one of the shows, I was so overwhelmed by the offer, I forgot to tell them one small detail:  My voice SUCKS!! All I could think of to say was, “I’ve never been on radio before.”  Well, they were very kind and made me comfortable enough that I survived the show — despite the fact that I used my more expensive headset for talking, only to discover later that my cheaper headset has a much better mic.  So while I had a terrific time being on Off The Shelf, I’m almost reluctant to link to the archived show that includes my muffled speech.  I don’t think I would add the link, except for the fact that the other guest on that show, Persephone Phoenix, is not only an awesome poet, but a wonderful speaker.

(By the way, one of the fun things about Off The Shelf is that it’s taped in a studio in front of a live audiencesee photo above–and anyone in Second Life is invited to be part of that audience.)


Well, I swore never to make that mistake again — and then promptly forgot about it when the awesome Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn blog, asked if she could interview me for her weekly podcast.  Joanna has written several nonfiction books and offers excellent advice to writers on writing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, Internet sales and marketing books.  I knew she wanted to talk about Second Life’s resources for writers — a topic that is near and dear to my heart — so I immediately said yes.  And only after the fact remembered my earlier vow.

This time, I used the cheaper, but better quality, headset (go figure).  And having learned a few things not to do from my previous experience, I think I managed to pull it off with a minimum of “nervous-wreck-shaky-voice” disorder and at least a lessening of the “um-ah-yeah” syndrome.  It also helped that Joanna is an extremely friendly, interesting person who makes you forget you’re talking to “the world” and more like you’re just having a phone conversation with a good friend.

So even though I still don’t like the way my voice sounds, I’m developing a bit more acceptance of it — especially when given the chance to talk about one of my favorite topics:  all that Second Life has to offer writers.

In the short space of time between those two audio interviews, I was also asked to give a live reading at the Bookworm Cafe on Da Vinci Isle in Second Life.  Da Vinci Isle’s mission is to showcase the creative talents of Second Life.  A few weeks ago, they started a weekly series at the literary-themed Bookworm Cafe where short story authors read their fiction.  I was honored and delighted to be asked to read at the first one, and despite my fear and trepidation, managed to read several short stories without collapsing from nervous anxiety (evidenced by the photo below in which I’m still sitting).


The next week, author Mark Worthen was the guest reader, and graced us with some beautifully read, spell-binding stories of his.  I encourage all fiction writers and other story-lovers to come listen to these published authors every Thursday evening at 5 p.m. SLT (Pacific time).

So, while I still don’t like the sound of my voice, at least I’m getting used to hearing it!  And the bottom line:  here’s yet one more way in which Second Life has made it possible for me to grow as a writer.

Key links and SLURLs:

Is there anyone else out there who grimaces when they hear their own voice?  If you’re a writer, are you more comfortable with a keyboard than a mic?  If so, how have you gotten used to talking and reading to audiences?  Any tips or tricks to share?  Please add a comment to this post — I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Claudia from Denver Cereal (1 comments.) May 14, 2009 at 2:05 pm

How wonderful! I’m so glad that you are ‘getting out there’ with your writing. Well done Joan!

Claudia from Denver Cereals last blog post..Chapter Forty-Nine : Warm (part four)

2 Joanna Penn (1 comments.) May 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Hi Joan – Thanks for being on my podcast – I really enjoyed it. You have a lovely voice! As a Brit in Australia, it’s great to hear a US accent! I don’t like mine either – I think it’s a common thing. I guess the best thing is to realise others hear it differently, embrace it and don’t think about it! Have a great day! Joanna

Joanna Penns last blog post..Podcast: Joan Kremer on Writing and Authors in Second Life

3 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) May 15, 2009 at 9:04 am

Hi Claudia! Thanks so much for the comment, and I highly recommend people check out your great serial fiction website, Denver Cereal. I love reading your weekly installments. Hope to see you in Second Life sometime.

4 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) May 15, 2009 at 10:49 am

Oh, Joanna, thanks for the reassurance. If you don’t like your lovely voice, then I’ll stop complaining about mine. And you’re so right — we all hear sounds quite differently, including our voices. Thanks for the pleasure of talking with you, and best wishes for the launch of Author 2.0. Joan

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