How I recorded an audiobook in a closet

Ariel Meadow Stallings
15 min readSep 14, 2023
My home recording studio, essentially a blanket fort in a closet.

Generally speaking, I’m pro-surrender. When I notice myself feeling gritty and anxious and miserable, usually it’s because there’s something I’m resisting. Usually, there’s something I need to just let go of and surrender to, accepting what’s actually happening instead of what I wish was happening.

During the early days of the pandemic, we ALL got a lot of surrender practice — the canceled plans, the called-off gigs, the postponed weddings, the missing paychecks, the visions we had of that month, or that season, or that whole year.

Generally speaking, I felt best when I could just let my expectations go, and settle into what was happening in the now.

Despite these pro-surrender leanings, I recognize that it’s not really about surrendering to everything. My brain tells me that the hard part is knowing what to surrender to, and what to push back on… But when I’m able to be present in the moment, it’s not hard at all.

You just know. There are times when something happens and, without thinking, there’s immediate clarity about what to do. There’s no debating whether to surrender or to take action — you just take action.

In late March 2020, that action was my closet.

February 2020: planning for my audiobook

I spent the winter of 2019/2020 preparing to narrate the audiobook for my third book, From Shitshow To Afterglow. Part of this process was working with a Hachette Book Group producer in New York named Tom.

Tom came to our conversations well-prepared — it turns out he and his partner had recently gotten engaged, and his fiancé had been using my website Offbeat Wed extensively. She found their photographer in the Offbeat Wed Vendor Guide, even!

Furthermore, not only was Tom familiar with my previous work, he made it clear that he’d even read From Shitshow To Afterglow, too!

Now, if you know the publishing industry, you know how remarkable this is. As an author, your book editor will definitely read your book, but in my experience, the editor is one of the few folks you’ll work with who has the time to read the manuscript.

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Ariel Meadow Stallings

I'm a product manager at Medium, but I'm also a whole-ass person living life: author, publisher, devotional dancer, Seattleite, mom, and just a human humanning.