This piece appeared on my blog one year ago. I repost it today in honor of beloved teacher and friend, Debbie Kelly, on the one-year anniversary of her passing on Aug. 9, 2015.
Our daughters’ brave and beautiful kindergarten teacher, Debbie Kelly, passed away tonight after several months of tremendous suffering from her second occurrence of cancer. Both cancer fights came during the years our daughters had her, and although she had to go on medical leave both years, Debbie bonded strongly with our girls in a short time and nourished them with great care and a foundation of learning and love we will always cherish. We are so grateful we had the chance to tell her how much she meant to us, in our final conversations and communications.
Debbie had the same kind of impact on the countless students blessed to have had her as a teacher. The hundreds and hundreds of notes, letters, drawings, gifts, and poems written to her, delivered to her, and read to her during her final days are priceless, and I can only hope and pray they bring her courageous husband and two young children comfort in the months and years to come.
This week is the first anniversary of my blog, Musings from a Writer, Director & Encourager.
Like with most meaningful things in life, I can’t believe it went so fast and yet it seemed like forever ago when I started. Perhaps that’s because I learned so much, grew so much and found my view of the writing life expanded so much – just when I thought I had it down.
For years I was an audiobook abridger for several major publishing houses. Titles I worked on won Audie Awards (the Oscars of the audiobook industry), and many others were nominated. It was a great gig that taught me a lot as a writer.
Before the popularity of digital audiobook downloads, podcasts and the like, audiobooks were primarily released on CD and, even longer ago, cassette tape. A whole cottage industry, known as abridging, thrived during that time because most books (fiction or nonfiction) were abridged (shortened) before recorded as audiobooks.
Why? Because listening to a book is an entirely different experience than reading a book: the product is different; the audience is perhaps listening while doing something else, or in smaller snippets of time (perhaps driving or exercising with headphones, short distances). And a few years back, people didn’t want to have to lug 12 cassettes or 6 CD’s around if they bought an audiobook of Roots or Gone with the Wind.
So I would be hired to cut anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of the book. Usually 30-40%. I’ve abridged many great titles: award-winning novels and novelists, bestselling nonfiction titles from worldwide CEO’s and championship-winning coaches, sex manuals, you name it.
Abridging was definitely a craft that helped me as a writer. How?