7 Quick Takes about speaking for fourteen hours straight and trying to pronounce “listlessly” at the end of it

March 7, 2014 | 26 comments

— 1 —


I survived recording the audiobook for my book, and I’m back home in Austin! Or, at least I think I survived. I’m still in a half-delirious state where I half suspect I may have died somewhere around chapter 26, and this is the afterlife.

…In which case, Purgatory is a lot noisier than I thought it would be.

— 2 —

We recorded the book with a brand new setup, and while the experts were figuring out how to get it done, I jumped in to offer my own expertise (cue Jaws soundtrack). I did some experiments with a digital recorder at home, and based on those results sent them a confident estimate of how long it should take to record the book. I would soon find out the hard way that my estimate was off…by 50%.


We recorded for a few hours on Monday, and only got 25% of the way through the book. On Tuesday I gave an hour-long talk to the staff in the morning, and then I absolutely had to finish the book by the end of the day, since my flight left the next day.

(By “absolutely had to” I mean: I didn’t absolutely have to, since the folks at Ignatius and Lighthouse are so understanding and gracious that they would have happily found another solution if I had said that I was too worn out to finish it on this trip, but I got into this mode where I said to myself, “BY GRABTHAR’S HAMMER, WE SHALL HAVE A COMPLETED AUDIOBOOK BEFORE I STEP ONTO THAT PLANE BACK TO AUSTIN, ” and I decided that I was going to get it done or die trying.)

Long story short: I read for the audiobook from 11:00 AM until 11:45 PM on Tuesday, after giving the talk to the staff in the morning. So I spoke for about 14 hours straight, with only two short breaks to eat.

Like I said. I’m still not sure that I did survive.

— 3 —

One of the biggest sources of delays was looking up pronunciation. Some of the words we had to stop and look up:

Ahaziah, abiogenesis, Bacharach, cumulonimbus, imbroglio, Manichaean, prothrombin, Tolkien, ulnar

…And a bunch more. If you had asked me last week if I know how to pronounce these things, I would have shrugged and said sure. But when this was going to be recorded for all posterity, in a format that allows people to jump back and listen to a stupid and wrong pronunciation over and over again, I suddenly had a whole lot less confidence in my verbal skills.

There is this one passage where I talk about my initial impressions of the Bible. It’s a passage I wrote straight from the heart about how charmed I was by Paul’s letters. It brought tears to my eyes all the other times I read it, as it drew me back into fond memories of my first encounters with the Scriptures. And then I came across it again at 10:00 at night, after eleven straight hours of reading.

This time my reaction was utter despair as I scanned the paragraph, which says:

I smiled as I read Paul’s warm greetings from prison to his friends Philemon and Apphia…I loved all the shoutouts throughout his letters, to men and women like Aquila and Prisca, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, with the occasional interjection about how fondly he regarded their friendships.

ALL THE NAMES. Each one having to be pronounced EXACTLY RIGHT. I briefly wondered if it would freak out the sweet audio engineer if I started banging my head on my desk and screaming, “I HATE WORDS!!!!”

If I ever write another book and I think there’s even a slight possibility there will be an audiobook, the entire thing will only have about 25 different words in it.

— 4 —

I read the book verbatim…except for one word. At around 11:00 PM, I came to a line in Chapter 33 where I wrote that I did something “listlessly.” Have you ever tried to say listlessly when you’re extremely tired? It’s the perfect exhaustion / sobriety test, because you cannot say the word listlessly unless you can bring your A-game.

And at that point in the evening, I could not. I tried over and over again, the engineer and I stifling laughs every time something like “LITH-liss-lee” came out, and finally we admitted defeat.

So the audiobook is an exact match of the printed book…minus one word. You will not hear “listlessly” in the audiobook.

— 5 —


With Steve and Jake from Lighthouse. Jake is the poor soul who had the misfortune to have to sit through the entire recording with me.

It was so great to meet everyone at Lighthouse, the company that did the recording. The staff was as friendly and welcoming as they could be, and it was inspiring to see a company that does great work and is centered on prayer.

I’ve given them a plug before, but I just have to say again: If you have questions about any tough theological subject — why would a loving God allow suffering? what proof is there for God’s existence? — Lighthouse has a CD that addresses it, and they’re all inexpensive. Take a look at the list of subjects their CDs cover. I highly recommend picking up a couple for Lenten listening.

— 6 —

One of the things I gave up for Lent is skipping songs on my iPod. I can choose the playlist, but I can’t move to another song if I’m not in the mood for one that’s playing.

When I told Joe, he was like, “Don’t wear yourself out there, St. John of the Cross!” But I defend this as a good Lenten sacrifice. I was inspired by a post Betty Duffy wrote way back in 2009 that has stuck with me ever since. She said:

Now I go for walks and listen to the ipod which is filled with a lot of classical music, a lot of folk, a lot of rock, and a bit of country. I set it on “shuffle” and skip song after song that appears on the screen. “No. Not that. Can’t tolerate this one right now. Does not match my mood.” Music must serve me by sustaining desired feelings or changing undesirable ones. And it had better not challenge me, because my life is challenging enough.

It’s sad.

It’s sad because it is yet another sign of my insistence on making everything I touch, see, hear, taste, or smell reflect my emotions and my experience. And it is another sign of how almost all technological gadgetry has the ability to foster narcissism.

I think of those last two sentences almost every time I skip through song after song on my iPod, not giving them a chance because they aren’t a perfect reflection of my current state of mind. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong…but I do think that it’ll be a surprisingly good exercise to force myself to seek inspiration in what I am given, rather than trying to force it on my own.

— 7 —

I’m speaking at Ignited by Truth in Raleigh, NC in a few weeks! Anyone want to take bets on whether my suitcase from this trip will be unpacked before then?



  1. Jessica Snell

    Grabthar’s Hammer! Hee, hee. That makes me very happy. 🙂

    (Which is probably *both* because I’m a nerd *and* because I really am too tired to be awake right now.)

    The audiobook recording sounds like a really intense and awesome experience. Congrats! 🙂

  2. bridgit

    ” . . . to seek inspiration in what I am given, rather than try and force it on my own.”

    Love that. Thanks!

  3. Laura Pearl

    I can’t imagine trying to read a whole book aloud in–and in one sitting! I would never be able to do it without about a million takes. I’m impressed!

    I look forward to reading your book (and I will be sure to take note the word “listlessly” when I do).

    • Laura Pearl

      Take note OF the word “listlessly”…man, I can’t even write a short comment without typos! Imagine if I was trying to record an entire book without making mistakes!

  4. Dennis Erford (@ErfordD)

    Grabthar’s Hammer? Ok, you just got even more awesome.

  5. Mandi @ Messy Wife, Blessed Life

    I’ll see you in Raleigh! My husband and I are so excited – we get to see you and Scott Hahn – and a day without our daughter. Regardless of what you talk about, it will be seen as a very romantic activity to us! I do hope I’ll get a chance to meet you as well – maybe that will temper my disappointment a not being able to attend Edel.

    And I don’t have an iPod but there is no way I could listen to my music on the computer in shuffle because I CANNOT handle Christmas music right now and there is a lot there. I love Christmas music and I will listen to it past the Christmas season – but not all the way in March. That is probably a penance to great for me to bear even for Lent!

  6. Kate

    My husband and I can’t wait to hear you in Raleigh, too (we’ll be coming from Charlotte). Thank you for your willingness to make that trip! My husband and I started dating on our drive back from attending the very first Ignited By Truth, and it’s neat that here they are at their 12th annual one. I’ve never commented before, but I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for writing! I’m always grateful for a good laugh or good inspiration.

  7. Emily B

    I’m with you on #6. I think it is a wonderful thing to do for Lent.
    I love sacrifices that are small but have big impact. I think those are the ones that we are most likely to keep even after Lent.

    A few years back I decided to say a short prayer to myself when ever I heard the Lord’s name used in vain. “Lord I pray in reparation for the offenses to your name”.
    It stopped me from using His name in vain and I have continued to pray for reparation whenever I hear someone else use His name even vain.

  8. Amy

    Congratulations on finishing! I would have never thought that recording an audiobook could be such an arduous task. and I just got my suitcase put away yesterday from a trip we took two weeks ago 🙂

  9. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    Love those thoughts on your Lenten sacrifice. I have never thought about it that way before. Heck, I take it one step further and just banish songs from my ipod if they don’t serve me well. To the trash you go!

  10. Rose

    Haha, “By Grabthar’s Hammer”! Love it! My siblings and I quote from that movie all the time – so many great lines! I’m due to have my first baby any day now, and was trying to line up some good funny movies to distract me through the early hours of labor. Thanks for the reminder to put this on the list!

  11. Annie

    Congratulations on finishing your audiobook! I remember well the tired-tongue phenomenon from my days recording audiobooks for the visually impaired…but I only did that for an hour at a time! I can’t believe you hung in there speaking for 14 hours straight!
    This is my first time commenting, by the way, but I’ve been following your blog for a while now. Your writing is so enjoyable and inspiring; I’m looking forward to reading your book!

  12. Anna

    “Ahaziah, abiogenesis, Bacharach, cumulonimbus, imbroglio, Manichaean, prothrombin, Tolkien, ulnar”

    Can I just say how excited I am to read a book that contains all these words? Way to go on all that hard work 🙂

  13. JaninNoVA

    Raleigh–yay! I hope I can get away that weekend. Anticipating that road trip will boost me from the winter doldrums!

  14. Kayla

    That’s a great idea for Lent! I’m a serial song skipper myself.

    Can’t wait to hear the audiobook!

  15. Sarah

    I very excited for your book! and your audiobook too….. glad you survived.

    I will be on my way down south when you’re in NC. I am missing your talk. too bad.

  16. Monica

    You did it again, Jennifer! A thoroughly enjoyable Quick Takes to start off my weekend with a laugh and a deep thought.

    Loved the one about word pronunciations and your resolve to not use more than 25 different words in your next book. I want to read that next book of yours using only 25 different words and don’t make it a children’s story, that would be cheating. Also, now I want to purchase the audio version of Something Other Than God to hear the one mispronounced word.

    Love the deep thought in #6. Technology makes it so easy to be in control, get what we want when we want it and I agree with you that all of this can foster a narcissistic attitude. I still have not made a Lenten sacrifice, but I think it will be along the lines of not trying to change or control what comes my way, but use it as an opportunity to grow in a way I think God may be leading me. I like iPod idea, it’s a small but powerful way to grow in dependence and trust in God. Tell Joe I said that St. Therese would approve.

  17. Lynne

    Oh Jennifer, you are so funny. Maybe we can ALL hope that this *is* purgatory. If all this is taking years off my life, maybe it’s taking years off my afterlife as well.

    I also must know: do you, or do you not, take all those supplements the PHD recommends?

    Congrats on getting the job done. That sounds purely exhausting. And I’m sure you came home to a spotless house and a tidy line of loving children who welcomed you with cherubic smiles and homemade crafts. Right?

  18. BettyDuffy

    That is a brutal penance!

    But it always makes me happy to know that something I wrote helped someone. Thanks for the nod.

  19. Rakhi @ The Pitter Patter Diaries

    That is a LONG day! I hope they kept those beverages a-coming. 😉 (I for one would not unpack unless there were serious temperature differences or I happened to spill a few of those beverages that I would need to speak for that long!) As for purgatory, I fear mine will be filled with meowing cats. Loud, meowing cats.

  20. Karen

    I LOVE the last bit, about the “deeper meaning” of skipping songs. I’m going to meditate on that tonight since I can’t make it to Stations.

  21. Maia

    I can’t wait to hear (AND read!) your book! Also, I think that first picture of you reading is just gorgeous and wonderful.

  22. Joanne

    My hubby will be at IBT. The jury is still out as to whether or not I’ll go because I kind of take a teeny tiny issue with the child policy. My mom might watch the girls but it is the principle of it, you know!

  23. Michelle

    Jake’s smile though. It really shows on his look how tired he’s been (or he was going to be. lol)


  24. Michelle

    #6 I will be mindful of this reflection when I am tempted to buy more food before using up what is there. Thanks.

  25. Ouiz

    “Don’t strain yourself there, St. John of the Cross.” Oh.My.Goodness. I will be laughing at that for the rest of the day. That is hysterical!!!

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