A few days ago, I announced that I was pulling the plug on my blog. As soon as the news started to spread, all kinds of reactions poured in.
Narrator Jeffrey Kafer wrote:
“If this is an April Fools joke, it’s the most narcissistic one I’ve ever seen. Hope you got all the attention you were after, Paul.”
He was probably just kidding, but in a way, Jeffrey was right and he was wrong.
My April 1st post about me quitting blogging was indeed a prank, but was it narcissistic?
LOOK AT ME
Narcissism is characterized by egotism, vanity, and selfishness. At worst, it is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration.
If I were to have an inner need to be admired and an inflated sense of self, I have definitely chosen the wrong career. Voice-over artists are the invisibles of the industry. We are servants of our scripts. If we’re doing our job right, people pay more attention to the message than to the messenger.
Unlike on-camera actors, we don’t get recognized when we’re walking down the street, and our craft doesn’t get much recognition either. No network will ever think of broadcasting the Audie Awards to a global audience.
There’s no Academy Award for the best voice-over performance in a motion picture. Name one narrator who’s made millions pimping his pipes… I just did my taxes and I can tell you with utmost certainty that it’s not me.
Contrary to popular perception, our work isn’t glamorous either. We voluntarily lock ourselves up in a padded box, dressed in sloppy clothes that won’t make any noise, and we talk to people who aren’t even there. Normally, that sort of behavior would warrant a psychiatric evaluation.
Are voice-over people self-centered? Well, if you and I don’t take good care of ourselves, it becomes hard to take good care of others. Since we personify our product, it’s in our best commercial interest to stay healthy. That doesn’t make us egotistical, does it?
If anything, our small community is the most selfless group of professionals I’ve ever been part of. It is a caring community and a sharing community. There are no industry secrets. Go ahead and try it out. Go to a Facebook or LinkdIn group and ask a VO-related question. Within the hour you’ll get a number of responses from people who know what they’re talking about, free of charge.
Every week there is a plethora of blogs, podcasts, articles and webcasts to choose from, packed with valuable industry insights and practical tips. Again, you don’t have to spend a penny to receive priceless information.
Here’s another remarkable thing.
As voice actors, we often compete against one another for the same jobs, yet we manage to remain friends. If there is a cutthroat mentality in voiceoverland, I haven’t encountered it. Sometimes we tease one another, but we don’t badmouth colleagues. If anything, we’re “goodmouthing” each other. We recommend and refer colleagues to clients and agents. And if one of us lands the gig of the century, we celebrate!
A CHARITABLE BUNCH
Not only are we generous with our advice and support, we give freely to worthy causes and to those in need. With one month left, I’ve already reached 86% of my fundraising goal for my annual MS Walk, thanks to readers like you. One audio book narrator wrote to me:
“I just received a nice royalty check from my last four books. I’m glad to donate part of it to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.”
I almost cried when I read those words!
Now, if you’ve followed my train of thought closely, you’ve no doubt noticed that I addressed Jeffrey Kafer’s comment by focusing on our community. But as you know, Kafer wasn’t talking about our community. He was talking about me. This put me in an interesting bind.
If I were to respond to his characterization, I’d be forced to talk about myself, thus running the risk of coming across as a narcissist.
If I were to let it rest, I’d be evading the issue.
What happened after I published my made-up story on April 1st, blew me away. It took no time for this blog post to gain traction. People read my sad story, they shared it and they started commenting on it. I received thank you messages. People emailed me and said they understood why I had decided to quit. Some wanted to know if I was okay, because I didn’t respond to the comments that were posted on my website.
There were a few skeptics among the commentators, but the majority of readers seemed to buy it and wished me well. By the end of the day, almost 700 people had read my farewell-article. An all-time record. What did that tell me?
If we trust the source, a story doesn’t necessarily have to be true to be believed, as long as it is plausible. Apparently, lots of people see this blog as a reliable source of opinion and information. That’s the best a blogger could hope for!
I was also overwhelmed by the unexpected outpour of appreciation. Reading all the comments almost felt like listening to a eulogy. I also felt a bit guilty because I knew I was pulling people’s legs.
KING OF THE HILL
Most narcissists are interpersonally exploitative. They take advantage of others to achieve their own ends. If you know me well enough (and I think you do), you know that that’s not me. I blog because I enjoy sharing my experiences with whomever is willing to listen. To me, it’s a way of giving back to a community that is giving so much to me.
Narcissists wish to be recognized as superior and they’re preoccupied with fantasies of success and power. I don’t see myself as superior. I’m proud of my achievements and I know what I’m capable of. I’m also very much aware of my limitations and my weaknesses.
I don’t need power, but I strive to empower.
And what about success?
I measure my success by the number of people who tell me they have benefited from something I wrote. Here are two examples:
“Paul, I not only read your blog, but like a lot of the readers, I await the blog, which should be appearing in 41 minutes, with great anticipation. Why, because it’s (A) loaded with content (B) stimulates me to action, changes my thought processing or introduces me to things I didn’t know existed (C) it is directly relevant to me and most of my friends.”
“Paul, in my 50 years of voice work, this is the best and most practical advice I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Thank you many times over for the wonderful insight.”
I didn’t add these quotes to give myself a public pat on the back. You’ve already done that by the way you responded to me supposedly pulling the plug on this blog.
My point is this:
If something I wrote somehow contributed to someone’s success, I feel successful.
If you believe that makes me a narcissist, so be it.
I much prefer tulips over narcissus flowers.
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
Jeffrey Kafer says
Clearly, Jeffrey Kafer is just a big fat jerk.
Hugs and kisses,
Paul Strikwerda says
People who pull a prank (like the writer of this blog) can expect all kinds of reactions. They ask for it and they deserve whatever comes their way. Some of my readers were startled. Others were not amused. Some are just happy that I’m okay.
As I wrote in this story, Jeffrey was probably kidding when he casually commented on my April Fools’ stunt. I don’t think he’s a BFJ. In fact, I respect him highly. I admire his professionalism and his candor. He’s not a frequent blogger, but when he speaks, the VO community listens. You can find Jeffrey’s blog by clicking on this link.
Jodi Krangle says
lol! Glad it was a joke, Paul. Your blog (obviously) would definitely be missed by a great many people – myself included. I’m also glad you’re ok. 🙂
Paul Strikwerda says
I’m doing really well, Jodi, but we’ll see what happens after I leaver the dentist’s office, tomorrow afternoon…
Lori Furth says
I’m glad all is well in Nethervoiceland. I look forward to your insights, find myself nodding when I read your notes, saying “that’s so true”. Glad to know you’ll be continuing, and glad for Jeffrey Kafer, too, who always entertains as well.
Kevin Scheuller says
I was one of the skeptics who, having enjoyed reading your blog for a little over a year now, knew you wouldn’t let April Fool’s Day go by without attempting some kind of a prank. The whole time I read this more recent April Fool’s Day blog, last year’s blog about microphones working better if they are heated was sitting in my memory bank. After reading other comments, I knew I wasn’t the only one who was skeptical. I also learned that Terry Daniel’s term of endearment for himself and others these days seems to be “jackass.”
I have to admit, Jeffrey Kafer’s “narcissist” comment made me laugh. Many of his Facebook comments make me laugh. He’s a funny guy. I think you handled it well, Paul. All of the points you made about voice-over being more selfless than narcissistic are on point as well. As a clergyman, I’ve been blessed to work in another “industry” comprised of selfless people. I guess I must be drawn to work with and among selfless people.
Ultimately, though, I knew you couldn’t give up blogging because it is a creative outlet for you that you just must do. Often, in your blog comments, you remind us that the messages you share with us are also reminders to yourself. Developing and cultivating professional acumen requires a bit of reminding/remembering. Anyway, reading your blog is a blast for me. Thanks for each and every one of them. Continued blessings to you and your family!
Ted Mcaleer says
I was one of the ones who had one of those…”Paul has written this blog for so well for so long… Maybe he really is pulling the plug.” The song “You’re so Vain” came to mind about me. “…You probably think this (Blog) song is about you…” Well, I can say that most of the stuff you blog about is about or applicable to me. So I built a model based on your strategy and advice and lo and behold, it’s a solid as a rock. Last but not least I’m reminded by a quote from a freshman when he learns of “Ferris Buller’s” Demise… “Oh man, I hope he pulls through… I can’t handle summer school.” I’m glad all around. 😉
Send me Kafer’s address and I’ll send him one of my 6 extra dictionaries.
Jaap Pleit Zappey says
As a guy born on April’s Fool Day I have 60 years of joke experience. I did not believe at all that you would be pulling the plug at once. First you would have written about your writers blog.
To say that you attitude is narcissistic is far beyond common sense. Your arguments against it are all valid and I recognize that also in the dutch voice over world.
Being narcissistic to some extend is not a bad thing. Many industry captains that are so admired by many show some narcissistic behaviour. It has brought them where they are now.
In my experience I have encountered many times that it is just those people that are incompetentent themselves in many ways that put the label narcissistic on somebody.
Just get on Paul. Like your writings so much. They are always to the point and share great knowledge.
Best regards from the Netherlands.
Jaap Pleit Zappey
Uncle Roy says
Paul – you had me at ‘pull’. How sad it would have been to lose the ‘voice of our community of voices’. Thank goodness the well really hadn’t run dry – but the thought of that should have been the giveaway. We’ll all kick Jeff’s ass when we see him at the NAudie Party. Carry on, Paul – Now: Pull THIS! – Uncle Roy – Antland Productions
Reuven Miller says
Paula Leinweber says
Whew! and Yippee! I am pretty new to your blog, as well as voiceovers in general, but already love to read every word you write, Paul. You have such a gift of writing clearly and intentionally. I learn from every blog I read from you. Thank you!
Roxanne Coyne says
I got a huge kick out of reading the reactions to your April Fool’s blog the other day, Paul. I was 99% sure it was a joke, but that remaining 1% was niggling at me. It’s really nice to read your follow up. And as for Jeffrey……sharpest wit in voiceover land, I think.
Rick Lance says
Narcissist! Nah! I’d rather just call you my clever friend, Paul.
Silvia McClure says
Glad you’re back! I didn’t comment on your what I now know was an “April Fool’s blog” because I was hoping it was one… 🙂
Andy Boyns says
When I read, “I had to say what I wanted to say, so why risk repeating myself?” I knew it was a joke… admire the way you held your fingers from responding publicly during the day. Welcome back!!
But hang on a minute! You never left!
Paul Strikwerda says
Thank you all for distrusting every word I penned on April 1st. It was the second most insincere story I ever wrote for this blog. My Mic Warmer article was the first. Do you know that I still get emails asking when it will be on the shelves?
Kevin Scheuller says
Paul, maybe you should drop a line to Harlan Hogan to see if he might put a Mic Warmer the VO Essentials web page. 😉
Paul Strikwerda says
There is one design flaw, Kevin. The mic warmer doesn’t work for cold reads. I have a team of specialists working on that right now. Expect an announcement at the beginning of April 2014!
Sloan Garrett says
This reminds me of a story I read years ago about a psychologist who had written a book about narcissists and was interviewed about it in The New York Times. Shortly after the article appeared, a number of people called him saying they recognized symptoms of narcissism in themselves and wanted him to become their therapist. He told them he was too busy but would be happy to refer them to a colleague in his practice. None of the callers accepted this. If they couldn’t have the famous doctor who was interviewed in the The New York Times, they couldn’t be bothered.
Paul Strikwerda says
That’s a great story, Sloan. Of course there’s always a different side to any disorder. Roy Baumeister wrote:
Psychology Today writes: