by Debby Irving

Last June, when I learned through my publicist that Audiobooks had inquired about obtaining the international audiobooks rights for Waking Up White, I braced myself to share with them one non-negotiable: I wanted to self narrate. After all, it’s such a personal story. I couldn’t imagine anyone else’s voice revealing my personal humiliations and awakenings. To my delight, in Audiobooks’ first correspondence, they had one hope in particular: That I would narrate my own story. Thus began a beautiful partnership.

When I learned that Audiobooks would be shipping me the technology necessary to create a home studio, I was a little skeptical. Did they understand how un-tech-savvy I was? With humor and patience, the Audiobooks team coached me through the process of choosing a quiet spot in my home to create a studio and together we tested and tested until that quiet spot became an acoustic dream. The spot? My closet. Rather, I should say, the closet I share with my husband. Our little 6’ x 4’ space crammed with shoes and clothes became further crammed with every extra pillow and blanket in the house

In this padded and darkened space, I slipped on the headphones and began to read aloud. There were times I had to pause to wipe my eyes and take a deep breath. Revisiting poignant conversations with my parents, breakthrough moments in my awakening process, how naïve I’d once been, and the times my ignorance had negatively impacted people of color stirred me all over again. It’s a powerful thing to read aloud. The pace and intention demands lingering on each and every syllable in ways silent reading does not. My story is an emotional one and I couldn’t help but feel my way through it.

The day we dismantled the “studio” and reallocated various blankets and pillows to other parts of the house, I felt an immense sense of closure. Of course it was nice to put my house back in order, but the real exhale came from having relived my story, start to finish, alone in that womb-like space. Thank you Audiobooks for the opportunity to tell my story all over again.