Tag: writing

Pillow forts and talking to myself

Hopefully, you were able to dust off that resume of yours and find where your professional and creative sides merge. Just in case, here’s the last ENTRY.

After receiving some feedback from my ex-wife on adding hobbies to resumes, she told me that she only puts down the ones that are relevant for the job she’s applying for. See, I don’t list my hobbies on my resume. To each their own I guess.

I would be lying if I told you I looked up the ‘Basics’ of Voice Over.


I spent most of my time scrolling through all the different types of microphones to choose from and what the differences were between USB microphones and microphones that required Phantom Power.

If you are serious about trying your hand at VO, do your research and invest within your means—my Disclaimer and personal opinion.

The only problem I had was, “Where the hell was I going to put it?!

Refocusing on the “less-interesting yet vital parts”, I came across a YouTube video from a full-time narrator who has done this for years. To sum it up, if it was something I was serious about, then I needed to practice first before committing.

He recommended two things:

  1. Find a quiet place in your house/apartment and
  2. Read “Out Loud” for an hour or two

By doing this and gradually increasing the time you read, you will get a sense of what it’s like. Pretty sound advice—pun initiated!

I didn’t have to invest anything, yet, and there was still so much to learn. A ‘Win, Win’ situation if you ask me. According to most articles, for those of us just starting out, not only did the area have to be “Quiet” but also “Sound-dampened”. They each recommended starting out in a closet. So, for the next few weekends, I was reading more articles out loud in my closet.

It was the last weekend of January when I decided that reading in a closet really sucked. I have a tendency to move around when I talk. My arms kept bumping into the wall and closet door. It was so cramped that I couldn’t stretch out. And due to the small space, I would be winded from reading in the first 30 minutes. This situation was a hurdle I needed to figure out.

The area had to be quiet, sort of sound-treated, and big enough for me to move around to continue practicing. I never would’ve thought my “Pillow Fort” building skills would come in handy!

Kai and I love building pillow forts for movie nights and watching anime (Japanese Animation)

After making some adjustments, my makeshift ‘Sound booth’ was ready! I was comfortable. I was able to move around. The best part was being able to read for 2 hours straight before getting winded!

One of my favorite quotes, “The problem isn’t the problem. It’s your attitude towards the problem”—or something like that. It goes back to the point of making something work. Especially when it comes to something we would like to accomplish.

As soon as I resolved that issue, another one quickly took its place—

the way I sounded when I spoke.

Not only am I nasally, my voice cracks like I’m still a teenager going through puberty.

(You don’t know how many times I’ve used this to my advantage when bill collectors or telemarketers would call me—shh, it’s our little secret.)

I never gave it that much thought on how I sounded before. If I didn’t like the way I sounded, then I wondered what others thought when I spoke.

My job as a delivery driver involved speaking with customers. Some were straight to the point while others were more talkative. I’m normally a listener but if I felt the conversation was going to draw itself out, then I had to take the initiative to politely wrap it up.

They didn’t care what I sounded like. We would conversationally relate on a business and personal level. Being able to hold my own in a conversation was an element I had to practice on myself when I read in my pillow fort.

I’m not going to lie, I felt ridiculous the first few times. There I was, with a mirror in my pillow fort, reading to myself!

Gradually, I started feeling more comfortable talking to my reflection. The noticeable difference was how natural the words came out. I wasn’t tense anymore. Using conversational judgement while speaking gave me an idea of how my speech rhythm, vocal cadence, was. All I had to do from there was adjust accordingly to what I was saying or reading.

Since I was in my “Sound booth”, it made sense to talk to myself—recreating what it’s like recording.

It’s crazy how the ‘obvious’ can be overlooked. The “Basics” were right there! We tend to listen to someone who is relatable, knowledgeable, and comfortable when they speak. By having these characteristics, it doesn’t matter what they sound like—just my opinion. Another way of practicing is through phone conversations. Think about it. It’s casual and everyone does it. You can tell by someone’s tone if they are actively engaged in the conversation, simply ignoring you, or are upset. 

And that is how pillow fort building and talking to myself helped me get a step closer into Voice Over. Just like exercise, I keep to this regiment when I don’t have any ongoing projects. Only this time, I have a sound booth I built from closet doors and a desk instead of sitting on the ground in a closet.

I hope you’re excited for the next entry!

We will be fast-forwarding to May (2019)—the month I began recording. Just to warn you, the audio will not be edited and there will be some swearing involved. I consider them to be fumbles and common occurrences when I record. So, until then, take care my friends!

Creatively altering my Resume

If I haven’t told you yet, “Happy New Year!”

I hope that you’re doing well and that you’re off to a great start with your resolutions! I’m awful at keeping these…

To recap from the last post, I revealed some secrets behind Jar of Poetry. Here’s the last entry.

Having just dipped my toes into the world of Voice Over, I thought it would be cool to share the experience and what I learn along the way as I step further into this line of work. Today’s entry is how I started looking into VO with little to no experience.

Before I get started, I’d like to send my ‘Well-wishes’ and ‘Positive Vibes’ to those job hunting and those going in for their interviews.

Johnny Boy is rooting for you!

It has officially been a year ago since I questioned what I was going to do with my then 33-year-old self. I spent most of New Year’s Day (2019) preparing for work the next day.

  • Trying to predict how busy we were going to be after the holiday
  • Who’s route I was going to cover because of ‘Call-offs’
  • How sore my body was going to be after moving thirty 50 lb bags of rice
  • What the traffic and weather conditions were and
  • Doing it all over again when my shift ended

The hardest part was staying positive for my son after a day of dealing with difficult customers and muscle aches. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I can complain about it, there were some fun and challenging times. Plus, it was a steady paycheck and a set routine…However, this bothered me—more than you know.

I see the world as a ‘Creative’ but when I looked in the mirror, all that stared back was a person lining himself up for regret. The reality of “Normality” didn’t sit well.

There are two things that help distract me from this:

  1. Looking up articles to read on Google and
  2. Snacking

Since I didn’t want to get off my hammock chair, I went with reading. I typed in, “Creative Careers.” After sifting through some of the options, curiosity led me to look more into Voice Over. Not only were you able to work from home but there were so many options to choose from! I always thought it was just voicing a cartoon character or doing commercials. NOPE! There’s also audiobook narration, E-learning modules, and voicing for phone prompts! I was staring at my dream job! But there was a catch, I didn’t have experience. At least, that’s what I thought.

As creatives, we are pretty resourceful people—using what we have to make something work.

Taking this into consideration, there is one thing we can turn to for this—our resumes. A simple document that holds a list of all our qualifications and achievements we’ve acquired from years in the work force for potential employers to review.

Have you ever read your resume as your own employer?

If you have or have not, is there a noticeable theme behind each job position you’ve had?

Since you’re the employer reading your own resume, what if you added your hobbies into it? Better yet, what if some of the things you’re good at come from what you do in your spare time? To make this clear, here are some examples. Again, I’m an example kind of guy

  • Your skills at organization and management may come from being a squad leader in an online game. My former supervisor is totally guilty of this!
  • The ability to handle yourself in stressful situations has come from waiting in lines to purchase concert tickets at the door
  • Or perhaps you have a knack for winning over clients at luncheons due to your skills at socializing from meals with family and friends

Crazy when you think about it this way, huh?!

After looking over my resume, I noticed a theme.

Each job had me interacting with people on a Sales level and in an educational/instructional way. I was also comfortable behind a microphone when I used to read at church as a kid and giving lectures when I was in the military and the medical/dental fields.

What I had, as a creative, was enough to work with. Since I had experience in these situations, I felt that the ‘Self Development’ or ‘Self Help’ genre was a good place to start. That’s when I had my heart set on becoming an Audiobook Narrator. From then on, I spent the next four months researching all I can about being a Voice Over—the dream job I had to have!

I’ll stop it here for now. I’d rather not go into how many hours were spent on weekends with my nose in articles and YouTube videos. To save you the trouble, the next entry will be about building pillow forts and how talking to yourself works out in the end.

To end this entry, I would like to share something my dad told me when I was back home. By the way, I still haven’t told him about my new job yet…oops.

 “Boy, if you can see that the opportunity is there, then chance it! It’s better to live knowing you tried than waiting and regretting for another chance to come around.”

Remembering Jar of Poetry

I still can’t believe we will be entering a new decade! So, to close out the final entry of 2019, let’s look back on 10 entries that impacted Jar of Poetry!

  1. Jar of Fireflies
    This is the first entry and the premise behind the site. Like fireflies, poetry is meant to be shared and admired by those who share the same fascination.

  1. Synthetically-Laced Puppet
    This last decade was filled with many things I never thought I’d face. Stepping away from the medication to combat PTSD, the experience helped inspire this piece.

  1. Locket
    Taking a chance at revealing something personal, the words from this poem naturally flowed. I was shocked at how many people related to it!

  1. Just not ready
    Originally meant to be a song, I never completed it. With a new blog and no material at the time, this led me to some old notebooks. After refining it to be a poem, I finally finished it, 3 years later.

  1. A Table with Friends
    Struggling with hunger pains, I went out to get some food. I ran into an old friend and ended up with a free meal from him. On my way back to the house, the idea to compare friends and food came to mind.

  1. How I tell time
    One of many ideas that kept me up at night. Despite the tired eyes and body fatigue, this poem was worth every second put into it.

  1. Come and Chill with Me
    A personal entry and my first personal Top 10 list. The only part that I didn’t like was having to listen to myself while trying to transcribe what I said. Oh well…it was still fun though.

  1. Her Vows
    This entry was the first time I gender-swapped. Writing from that point of view was new and I honestly found it interesting!

  1. Paper Airplanes
    Okay…stay with me here. This was inspired by Antony, who was inspired by Uncharted Course, to write this. This poem is the first time I did a poetry “Ping-back

  1. Nothing more beautiful
    The lines that inspired this whole thing was, “How does one payback a lost angel? With a pocket full of sin, a man can still be grateful.” This motivated—well…agitated me—to finish writing this to get some sleep. I bet you didn’t know that?!

It has been a wonderful time sharing these posts, along with some of the others, with you and having fun doing so. I look forward to keeping this up for 2020. The one thing I want will change is adding more audio to the posts.

And that my friends does it for JOP 2019. So until next Sunday (EST), I’m John-Anthony and this is our Jar of Poetry. I wish you a prosperous, wondrous, and most mischievous New Year! Take care!

It's time you knew…

Jar of Poetry (JOP) is a place where I share poetry, respond to your comments, and conduct experiments in this ‘Literary Laboratory’ of mine. However, I have been using it to prepare myself for something bigger.

In October 2019, a month after JOP began, I took my first step into the field of Voice Over. On December 16, 2019 and after countless hours of reading out loud and editing the vulgarity out of the audio, I can say with a sincere and humble heart—I am an Audiobook Narrator.

Now that I have that out of the way, it’s time to get to what you came here for.

What’s this secret I’ve kept from you this whole time?

You played a crucial role in this whole ordeal.

For as small as it is, our interactions together have a deeper meaning. You gave me confidence, despite my light-hearted demeanor, that I feel I lacked to move forward. All of you have shared personal stories, thoughts, and ideas from your own experiences. I have also had the chance to send and receive emails from some of you as well.

What I needed were honest opinions of my work. It was more than just the poetry. I wanted to know if my message was able to meet three requirements. Let me explain—I’m more of an example kind of guy.

(I’ll get to [x3] in a moment)

This is what my mind works out when we incorporate other factors before deciding to write or post:
Did Post solve [x3]?

To me, Voice Over (VO) is similar:
PurposeScript(Format)(Interpretation)(Creativity)⇒VO Product[x3]?
Did VO Product solve [x3]?

The variable [x3] represents three questions:

  1. Was it clear and understandable?
  2. Did it reach the right person?
  3. Has it left an impact?

If the results can answer the variable, [x3], then not only have you accomplished your goal but you achieved something greater than you realized.

That’s why I had to keep it a secret—you were the variable I was trying to answer! 

If my message wasn’t clear, then I had to go back and see what I can do to fix it. Along with that, troubleshooting and calibrating my equipment to make it somewhat bearable. I can’t tell you how many times I hit “Record” for some of the audio entries only to redo them because I didn’t turn my microphone on. 😛

Thank You” isn’t even close to how much it means to me. I don’t think I will ever find the words to express how grateful I am to you. Whatever you’re going through in life, the one thing you should know is that you made an impact on me. I mean this with all my being.

And since we’re on the topic, time for the final reveal!

I never took acting or business classes.
I didn’t hire a voice coach—yet.
I knew nothing about recording/editing software or audio engineering.

In short,
I had no damn clue what I was doing!

The only thing I “did” know was that it was something I wanted to do. And when I set out to do something, I keep these three things in mind:

  1. “Hold my sanity, shit’s gonna get interesting!”
  2. “The ‘Impossible’ is only true to the fool who believes it” and
  3. “I don’t want someone’s Reality to only be my Imagination”

I hope that by sharing this mindset, it ignites something in you to take on whatever you think is impossible to achieve.

I will be disabling the Comments section and Ping-Backs for a few reasons.

First of all, I respect everyone’s privacy. I don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed if Voice Over is something they’re interested in or would like to know more about—via email. By directing it through email, it also prevents unsolicited comments from people trying to sell their services without your consent or telling you that I’m full of crap—let me take care of that.

Yes, I am still new to this line of work and I don’t have all the answers. What I can offer are bits of information I’ve accumulated to at least take that first step into something completely new.

I was afraid.
I didn’t have experience.

But that desire to do something completely new, outweighed those factors. I will make it work, one way or another—I’m a Taurus…I pride myself in being stubborn.

When someone documents their journey, especially when it’s something they really want to do, I sort of feel like I’m not contributing except by reading about what they dream of doing and not learning something along the way. That’s not what I signed up for. Give me something where I can follow and support you while learning something new along the way. That’s what I set out to do—refer to what I keep in mind when I decide to do something.

So, what do you think? Now that you know I’ve just started my Voice Over path, things are only going to get more interesting from here—and you know I can promise that.