Today I took on a little task that I've wanted to do for ages. I sat down and made a recording of myself reading the dialogue. (I got as far as the floor series before I had to take off; will finish tonight.) I want to have a recording of myself delivering it verbatim, so that I can play it in the car and basically "sing along" to myself - get it rolling off my tongue like second nature, so I don't even have to think about it. I've done pretty well at learning the words off the page, so now I want to get used to saying them!
The obvious side-effect of this exercise is that I have to actually listen to a recording of my own voice! AUGH! It sounds so weird!! This is true for almost everybody, right? You hear a recording of yourself on a voicemail and go, "Whoa, my voice sounds like that?!" Well, now I'll have to start getting used to it. I played some of it back, and started really noticing how I pronounce different words. Like "mirror." Oh man, that word is in the dialogue about 4 billion times (1 Sagan), and now that I'm paying attention, I don't even know how to say it anymore! I really do not en-nun-ci-ate on that word. When I'm talking fast, it practically turns into one syllable: "Look in the MIRRR." Or else it's just a little dying fall at the end of the word: "Look in the MIRRRur." Now that I think about it, I doubt I've ever actually said "MIRR-OR" in my life. (Should I start now?!)
Yes, this is the kind of thing that occupies my mind these days. Yes, my life is pretty easy. I know.
But I do have another observation to make here...
I've been noticing lately how many new people have an incredibly hard time just looking at themselves in the mirror. (OR in the MIRRR.) Their eyes dart around the room to land on anything except their own reflection. And today it occurred to me that for many people, watching your body while you move it must feel just as foreign as listening to your voice while you say something. I never had this problem because I came from years of ballet training, so I was used to studying my own movements in the mirror for hours on end. I never quite realized just how weird it must be to observe yourself doing something - standing, sitting, speaking - that you normally do without self-observation.
I guess that looking at yourself - like listening to yourself - must be something that always feels bizarre the first time. And then over time it become natural, because your brain starts to build connections. "Aha!" it says. "If I want to put my body in that shape, I just have to move myself this way. If I want to make a word sound a certain way, I have to do this with my lips and breath." In other words, the mechanisms of cause and effect slowly become transparent. Instead of acting mindlessly, guided only by habit, you start to understand the technique. And once you have techniques, you can apply them to create a very precise outcome. You can direct every part of your body, down to your fingertips and toes, down to the motion of your lungs. You can modulate your voice, its pitch and dynamic and inflection. And it all starts with observation. Looking in the mirror. Listening to yourself, as you say, "Look in the mirror."
And this process is always so weird at first! But it seems to work...