Audio Story – What I Sound Like When I’m Not Speaking

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to read a 1,500 word short story? Apparently, 8 minutes and 19 seconds. Below is a radio station’s reading of one of my short stories, the one that was short-listed for the CBC’s short story prize last year. It’s called Saad Steps Out. If you have a 8 minutes or so, have a listen. I think the reader got the tone pretty much right. I don’t think I could have read it better.

Just don't look down  1



The other day, I posted fragments of a story ( They are basically random paragraphs from a story that’s almost written. It’s fairly long, and a little bit off the beaten path for me. I thought I’d post the first entire segment of the story, to show what I’m thinking (or, you know, if I’m actually thinking at all):

            How I came to know that Drew Ramos regularly went to other worlds was nothing more than a bookmark nestled in a Harry Potter book (the sixth one, I think) that came spinning out when I happened to knock it off an end table. Drew was the type who would re-read Harry Potter every six months, almost as though he missed the characters so much that he couldn’t bear to be too far away from them. I often wondered if, given the chance, he wouldn’t give up his life to snuggle into the pages and join the wizarding world, even if that meant he only had a bit part as a background character. 

            The bookmark fell from the knocked-over book, merely confirming things I had suspected about Drew for a long time. “Where do you go, Drew?” I’d often asked him, for Drew simply disappeared. There were times when I could have sworn that he was in his dorm room, only to find the room empty, the window firmly jammed shut and too much ice crusted on the ledge in any case to let him out that way. He just went. Drew just went. 

            In the earliest moments of our existence at St. Ives, Drew found me. “Can I have your mushy peas?” he’d asked. I’d given them to him and watched as he’d sat next to me, steel tray clattering with the effort of securing his cutlery while dealing with a glass over-filled with milk. The peas had been gobbled: not eaten, but truly gobbled, four heaping spoons that he’d slurped between his lips and swallowed down without a hint of exertion from his teeth. 

            “No one likes mushy peas,” I’d told him. “My name’s Jane.” 

            “Old-fashioned name coming back in style,” he’d said. I think that was when he’d finally looked at me, and I’d discovered that Drew could lift his eyebrows one at a time: the left one first, the right one joining it, until there was a Roman archway of ginger hair spread across his face. “Come to my room later, 2312.” 

            “Why would I do that?” 

            He’d fixed his glasses and sipped the bubbles off the milk. He was the most serious boy I’d ever met, and thinking on him now, I wonder if that’s because he was aimed at something beyond me, something I couldn’t understand or quite grasp, as though not only did he want to vanish into a book, but that possibly he’d come out of one too. 

            “Simple,” he’d shrugged.”It’s really simple. I owe you for the mushy peas.”

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Dream hard, rage hard.

43 thoughts on “Audio Story – What I Sound Like When I’m Not Speaking

  1. It typically takes me more than 8 minutes and 19 seconds to read a 1500 word post. Especially one of your posts, Trent. Not because I’m a particularly slow reader, although I am that, but because I have to read your 1500 word posts multiple times to try to fully appreciate what you wrote. I can rarely get through one of your pieces of short fiction with just one read. There’s too much to grasp, too much to consider, too much to think about. One read won’t do. That’s a good think, by the way.

    1. I agree with you Doobster. I rarely want or enjoy reading short stories more than once. Trent’s work are those rare ones where not only do I want to read it again, I have to read it again. To see what I missed the first time because there always will be something.

      I look forward to what Trent does with this.

      1. Thank you Mark. I have it mostly finished, just need some minutes. I feel this horrible need to experiment these days, like anything written normally is just not worth the time.

        1. You and I may have been twins separated at birth. This is Reason 43 on the list of 3,639 reasons why I struggle with writing these days. I”m interested in exploring different ways to tell stories. Different means … more difficult. But, once I start down a different path, I don’t want to give up. I want to make it work. All of my half completed novels fit this category. K Street Stories — a collection of inter-connected short stories that tell a larger story. Terror in a Small Town — told in the present tense, from the perspective of a range of characters. Northville Five and Dime — told in first person, alternating between three key characters. And The Irrepairable Past — a poetic, lyrical story that I want to have meaning beyond anything I’ve ever written.

          It’s all such a challenge and I just don’t know if I’m up to it. Another blogger just posted about how he seems to hit a wall right around 25,000 words. That’s exactly what I am experiencing. I can get to there, but then the weight of what I’m trying to do just becomes so oppressive, I don’t know how to continue.

          But, I haven’t given up. I’m still thinking, still trying to figure out how to solve the many riddles that writing throws at me.

            1. I am. I’ve had a couple of epiphanies over the last few days about writing and a few other things. Not necessarily leading to more writing at the moment, but leading to more clarity about the struggles I have had lately.

              1. At the moment I’d say it comes down to having greater acceptance for the limitations I face, greater patience for things to happen in their own time, and also a couple of new friends I’ve made who have helped me focus on some things. I hate to say it, but a lot of it is just about trying for more positive thinking. I’ve started meditating regularly for the first time in my life, although still not as much as I should. And some days, some moments I just consciously try to slow my breathing down, which helps slow my mind down. It’s about getting out of my office at those moments of high stress and going for a short walk in the park across the street. It’s about recognizing my stressors (which I think meditation really helps with) and tossing them to the wind whenever I can. It’s about smiling more. Laughing more. Trying to find moments of enjoyment more. It’s about not wallowing like I have for the last couple of years and getting out and doing things for me. Only I can do that, I can’t wait any longer for those around me to want to join me on my journey.

                Long, rambling answer.

              2. but a good answer nonetheless… recognizing stressors is so key, often they seem to sneak up on us and modify our behaviour and attitude, and then we wonder why we can’t write or be creative… I figure it’s down to self-awareness and realization… love the idea of meditating. occasionally i’ll hang out in the steam room at the gym and force myself to think of nothing. i come out of that so level that i don’t recognize myself… love that feeling.

              3. Yep … if I have a successful meditation session and “successful” is the key, I always come out of it feeling better than before.

  2. Splendid Trent – excellent writing (actually, excellent reading – I’m not qualified to guage writing ability). Thank you for sharing this. My old lap top doesn’t see any audio files (i can’t access Sound Clouds either) in this post. I wnet back to the Canada Writes site and read your award wimming story – I enjoyed it very much. I could not find an audio file of it that I could listen to. Sorry. Oh, as an asdie, who’s that hadsome lad that looks like an engineer that is pictured on your entry?

    Great post – thank you.

    1. Thank you Paul. Don’t imagine too many people will listen to it anyway, seems like a lot of time to spend on something like that… but it did feel good having someone recite the story, it really did. Sooooo… the handsome lad is a type of engineer, but also a likely friendly doppelganger who is happy to do a shy guy a favour or two…

  3. I just love this, Trent! It’s really excellent. Right away I’m sucked into these characters and their relationship. Your writing flows so well. I want to write like you someday.

  4. I’m saving the reading for my commute home. It’ll make an insufferable hour less so. Did they offer to let you read it or was that never on the table?

    One of my best ‘hanging out in the city’ pals is Jane. I put her in here as soon as her name came up. Then I went back to the top and reread it with that newly acquired twist. It’s funny how you can take what’s real in your life and seamlessly insert it into a work of fiction.

        1. I am awesome at slurring right after that four-drink mark. It’s a bit like darts. Play sober and you kind of stink, too rigid and all. A couple of drinks to loosen you up and the flights seem to fly; but go beyond that and your skills start to decline. I figure it’s important to maintain a certain alcohol level if you’re going to play well. Sigh. On these topics do I dwell these days, researching thoroughly. But it does make me laugh.

  5. Wonderful — although I had to read it myself as I am at work and my computer is ancient ….

    I’m identifying with Drew. How can there possibly be another Potterhead who likes mushy peas?

  6. I love, love, love this excerpt. And I’m not using the word “love” in the over-inflated, hyperbolic way. I truly love it, well, as much as you can love words on a screen. Is it going to be a short story? Novel?

        1. Not sure… I finished it but it needs some editting. Probably will submit to a lit journal here and there. It’s decent, different, reasonably well-written, kind of funny but deeply mysterious (this is another way of saying that it may not make sense).

  7. Jeez Trent. The stars were aligned when you wrote this story. It’s brilliant and flawless. And I like the way the guy reads it, (much better than the way I read it to myself) and even though his Canadian accent was quite thick, I could still understand him!! I like your other story too. Absorbing right off the bat. How weird that I woke up this morning thinking about my mother’s name and I tried to imagine how my grandmother viewed it when she named her Jane . . .

    1. Thanks much, Linda. I wrote that story in a coffee shop in an hour… it was a toss-away but stuck in my mind. I think I’ve done better, and know I’ve done worse. Oh well! By the way, what Canadian accent???

      1. It’s amazing what’s in that mind of yours Trent. It’s like Trent Concentrate. All you do is just add coffee!

        Oh yes. There’s an accent. I should know, I speak Canadian as a second language.

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