Emotional History

AUDIO REPORT: Georgia Nelson
EMOTION: Happiness (also some sense of fear/doubt)

In: “It was something I didn’t really think about…”
Out: “…glistening in the sunlight, and herself on a chestnut mare…”
Duration: 2.00


Pamela Cook is an Australian author of rural fiction, based around her experiences of travelling and living between the city and country. Starting out as a teacher, she had no idea that her passion for writing would one day become her reality. Her debut novel “Blackwattle Lake” was just the beginning of what would become a rollercoaster journey, leading to four published novels over four years.

Music: ‘Solo Acoustic Guitar’, Jason Shaw http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jason_Shaw/Audionautix_Acoustic/SOLO_ACOUSTIC_GUITAR_3-11


It took me a while to find the perfect material and talent for my emotional history assignment. I focused on trying to find the right balance between a story that would evoke and display emotions, yet not be overly emotional for the amount of time we were allocated for this task. My first idea to interview my mother about the illness suffered by her best friend was too serious and I decided I would not be able to do this story justice in a two-minute audio piece. So I chose to interview her instead about her experience of being a published author, one that I know has had many ups and downs for her. My final edits were made to focus the story around one moment in particular; the publishing of her first novel.

In a podcast from “Ideas at the House”, Ira Glass says that ‘all narrative is, is a sequence of actions… its not a smart structure its entirely about emotion’ (2016). I think the emotion aspect of this is especially important in audio because in order to empathise with or share the emotions of the interviewee, the emotions have to come through strongly in their voice. This helps the listener to visualise the situation and go on a journey purely through audio. Initially, my main concern was that this story would not provide an evocative narrative, however I believe my questions covered a range of matters surrounding my chosen topic, so through the editing process I was able to achieve a relevant narrative arc. The narrative tells my mother’s story from the moment she found out she would be published, to her experiences of self doubt and her challenges faced. Her happiness and excitement is demonstrated throughout with upward inflections – almost like you can hear a smile – and laughs, whilst the more challenging aspects of her career are highlighted through more reflective pauses.

I found that achieving a clear recording in my house was more challenging than I expected, as the sounds were echoing and I had to re-record some sections of the interview. My mother is quite an articulate and emotive speaker, and I think this shows throughout the audio, with the upward and downward inflections reflective of her emotions and the laughs also highlighting her spoken words. To enhance the interview, I added ambient sounds reflective of the writing process. Keyboard clicks are faded in and out at the beginning and end of the audio, and the sound of a page turning is used throughout as a breath or to represent a change in the narrative; for example, from narration to reflection. To add a more personal touch to the story, I incorporated my mother reading the opening of her novel at the beginning of the audio, and a reading of the final scene of the novel at the end of the audio.

As quoted in a lecture, to achieve a narrative with a lasting impact, audio needs to be filleted, distilled and re-sequenced (McHugh, 2016). This entails cutting out irrelevant information, refining edits, and re-sequencing audio clips. The original audio I recorded underwent this process, and the opening sequence was actually taken from the middle of the recording, however I chose this to begin the audio because it acts as a blurb would on a book – it frames the story and sets up an expectation of emotions for the listener.

After reading John Biewen’s essay, I incorporated his idea of ‘the combo’ pause (Biewen, 6), incorporating a breathing moment in my audio to both emphasise a part in the audio and also indicate a ‘transition from one scene to another’ (Biewen, 6). The balance between narrative and and letting the story “breathe” was what I struggled most with, and I incorporated both Biewen’s idea and critiques from the tutorial into the final edits of my emotional history audio.

Ultimately, my aim is to evoke a sense of shared joy and anticipation in the listener through my audio story. I think that my mother’s story of achieving a dream and the ups and downs that come with this are easily relatable to anyone, in many aspects of life.



Biewen, J 2011, “Be Quiet: In Praise of the Pause”, Transom, weblog post, 13 September, viewed 25 August 2016

Ira Glass on Journalism 2016, podcast, 11 August, Sydney Opera House, viewed 26 August 2016

McHugh, S 2016, ‘Week 3 JRNL102: The Art and Craft of Editing’, powerpoint lecture slides, JRNL102, University of Wollongong, 8 August 2016

‘Solo Acoustic Guitar’, Jason Shaw,  2011 (copyright-free) http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jason_Shaw/Audionautix_Acoustic/SOLO_ACOUSTIC_GUITAR_3-11



0.00 G. Was being an author a life long dream of yours?  




P. “Umm, no it probably wasn’t a lifelong dream…” – background of writing career
“I guess it only started to become a dream when I started writing – when I was in my 40s”


*** – good for narrative

2.42 P. “There were about 300 entries into that program and they took 9 people, and from those 9 people only 2 were actually published and I was one of them”

“It was pretty exciting that I was going to be published”





*** – good for narrative, also reflective, emotionally evocative

3.18 P. “Umm no [laughs] I didn’t think I’d be on my 4th novel 4 years later… this one I saw as a fluke t be honest… right place at the right ime… its been a bit of a rollercoaster *** – laugh evokes emotion, good reflection
5.12 P. “So at the time… I was sitting in my kombi… and I’d submitted the manuscript to the publisher 6 weeks before hand… I got the phonecall… and she said we really want to publish it!” *** – good clear voice, upward inflection, good narrative
6.13 P. “It was a whole range of different things… I was really surprise, I was really happy, umm, probably shocked more than anything” *** – good for narrative
6.44 P. “Ahh that’s really hard to remember… actually it was quite funny… the character drives a kombi and I was actually sitting in my kombi.. oh how appropriate!” * – funny anecdote, will use if time allows
7.51 P. “Its really strange because you think when you write a book, obviously that’s a good thing and really excited/thrilled/proud of yourself… achieving a dream, but also a lot of self-doubt and criticism… you are plagued by doubts… and it doesn’t change for each book – Im now on my fourth book and still have the same fears” *** – range of emotions, shows challenges, excellent for narrative
9.11 P. “Well a couple of things… write what you know and one of those things is horses… an image of someone standing at property – it was a familiar place… and it payed off!” descriptive but not really relevant




10.08 P. “Good question… self discipline for me… having people read your work and judge it I guess, that fear that keeps coming up around it is always there” Also descriptive, but not relevant

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