Robot Reading Bedtime Stories: Or, How I Re-Discovered Excitement For Novels

A couple weeks ago I sampled (and then bought) a text-to-voice app for my iPad called NaturalReader. I have auditory/sensory issues that make it difficult to listen to audio-only read by people unless I’m in a headspace to be able to parse what is being said. But what I found is that a robot reading to me, with a very predictable cadence and tone, is incredibly soothing and I can focus on the words without a lot of trouble. So nice!

So after listening to classics from Gutenberg Project (and “The Eye of Argon” just for kicks–damn, it is even funnier read by a robot!) I decided to stick some short stories on the app for helping me focus on line-editing.

The short version: after I listened to this lovely robot voice read me some stories, I got curious and cautiously pulled out an old novel I’d written and locked in a trunk.

And the weirdest thing happened. I did not hate the novel! It was…not terrible? Oh yes, it needs work and is too short right now. But. It was actually okay? And I like it? And I want to revise it? O.o

It might have been a fluke, so I went scrounging and found a different novel I’d actually forgotten about entirely, and listened to that and…it was also not as awful as I thought it should be?

This is so weird, you guys.

For the longest time, I was convinced I had zero idea how long form work. I’d actually forgotten I’d written a bunch of novels at all. And the thing is, if I’d been reading it myself, I probably would have not been overly…charitable. Having a robot, who is just reading the words without any agenda, narrate these words gained me an entirely new perspective for my work.

Old stuff needs work, yes. But it’s not un-salvageable, and that just boggles my brain right now.

I’ve heard advice to read your stuff aloud, but I dislike reading aloud, hate my voice, and do not have a lot of stamina for extended vocal exercise. So I never did this.

But my little robot app, with that charmingly monotone voice, is exactly the buddy I needed to revitalize my interest in revision and long form, and boost my confidence that yes, I can do this.

7 thoughts on “Robot Reading Bedtime Stories: Or, How I Re-Discovered Excitement For Novels

  1. This is highly awesome! I give you the Inky Stamp of Approval! And remind myself that I need to try this again next time I’m at editing point >.< I've done this for one of my novels and it was awesome 🙂

  2. My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.

    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.

    I have heard great things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts
    into it? Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

    1. I’m afraid I’m not knowledgable about that — sorry! Perhaps googling on how to transfer posts from one domain to another; there may be discussion boards that could offer help. 🙂 Good luck!

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