Dragon Update

Okay, so my keyboard gets a little sticky, who really cares? Bailey’s Farmer’s Market is next door to Sacred Heart Rehab Center where I am spending an hour twice a week to get my shoulder ready for next year’s baseball season (ha). I could eat this breakfast every day for the rest of my life. It’s nonfat Fage Greek Yogurt (soft and almost fluffy), Bare Naked Vanilla Almond Granola, walnuts, and cinnamon topped with berries and peaches.

Back when I agreed to type and edit Buck’s manuscript for him, I didn’t know he planned on writing Gone with the Wind reduxYesterday morning at physical therapy when I mumbled something about typing 10,000 words on Sunday, Don the PT guru said, “I thought you were using Dragon.” Duh. Well, I had planned to, but it just seemed like too much sugar for a dime, and I was continuing to do it the same old manual way.

Yesterday, though, when Buck cheerfully delivered two more full legal pads to my desk, just as I had come to the awful realization that one of my own characters has to die, I rapped my knuckles on my hard head, and decided to give it another try.

Here’s the answer:  I talked through an entire legal pad in about one-fourth the time it would have taken me to type. Was it perfect? No, but close. Really close. It only took a few minutes to go back through and clean it up.  I was so excited I called Buck in to see the magic for himself. He was astonished. After listening to me reading his words and watching them appear on the screen with paragraphs in perfect order, he finally said. “Maybe I could learn how to do that.”

Oh, he fell into my clever trap big-time. I smiled sweetly and said, “And for your second book, my love, you will.”

I know you’re probably thinking, “Why doesn’t Buck type his own damn manuscript?”  Simple, practical answer to that one. Buck can perform many feats of derring do and has, all his life, including being a marksman and athlete. But he was born with a congenital amputation of most of the left hand which makes rapid typing a challenge. As a working journalist years ago, he could hunt and peck with the best of them on an old Royal typewriter, but just as he does all sorts of things for me every day, as in any great partnership, this is one good turn I can do for him.


Woman at the Counter, Versions 2 and 1

Note: Version #2 is first.

2. There was only one customer, a woman,  at the counter in the post office when I walked in today to mail a couple of books to a friend in California. I never did see her face, but judging from her jeans, t-shirt and dishwater blond hair pulled back into a pony tail, and other physical clues, I am guessing she was somewhere between 28 and 35.

The main thing I noticed at first was that her voice was soft, quavery. She seemed to be asking the clerk, (a calm, straight-arrow, professional but friendly guy who has been there a long time), how she could rent a post office box and how much they cost. I zoned out while he gave her all the fine print details.  I thought of my virtual friend, a new blogging buddy, a fine young writer who is just about to give birth to her second child. I thought about the serendipity of how birds of like feather seem to find one another to give and receive encouragement and to meet each other wherever we are on the pilgrim path of writing.

Sometimes I think everyone on the planet is a writer, that we are all celebrating the joy of the struggle of expressing ourselves with pen, ink, paper, keyboard, and voice. Tells you what a lovely bubble I live in, no?

The woman’s voice penetrated the vapor barrier of my thoughts. She had come to a decision. “I’ll take the year — no, if I do he’ll get on me — I’ll take six months.”

If I do he’ll get on me.

My spine straightened. I felt a miniature electric drill twisting its way up into the base of my skull.

Note: Version 1 is what showed up as type on the page when I used the Plantronics Calisto Bluetooth headset to speak this post for Dragon to turn into words. It’s painfully obvious that I have a lot of work to do to learn how to frame my thoughts into type-ready speech, and clearly, Dragon and I are at the beginning of the learning curve. The gibberish that resulted is somewhat amusing and undeniably weird.

1. There was only one person in the post office when I walked in today to mail a package for a friend. She was a petite woman somewhere between 28 and 35 years old I never did see her face. I was there to mail the book to a friend that California does not have the baby at night I wanted to share with her what my favorite children’s that had for children of all ages.

She wore a pair of jeans and T-shirts, had newtons medium length blondish sort of hair and the main thing I noticed that her voice had kind of a quaver to it she was she was asking Kerry about the cost of opening a PO Box. In his usual gentle friendly way he was explaining the options. Space it seemed that she was looking at the possibility of six months or a year the cost for the year as it is. Pointed out was more reasonable the risk of the discount at least I think that’s what I heard , and she was weighing whether to buy open a box and pay the fee for six months or to pay for a full year. I could hear the tension in her voice and I could see it in her body language she kind of shifted from one site to the next. FnallyR she said well I think I’ll take the year and no he’ll get on the inside. Let’s make the 669. I felt the kind of an electric Jerrell feeling up my spine a tiny little electric drill, she’s this is that this is really bad for women she went off to the side to fill out paperwork I came to Canada sent a letter to indicate and actually two books and I thought how lucky KVS how lucky I am to be in loving relationships relationships with our partners and and also am reason you are comfortable comfortable financially to the extent that we can could make that decision of whether to rent the box for a year or rectify for six months and certainly not fear going home and having someone get FACT that some mountain biking I talked about this and he he thinks it probably had more to do with justify family finances and her her thanks anxiety about that O

Flying Women, A Dragon, and a Bunch of Antsy Characters

Tuesday morning. I should have gotten up at 2:30, when it was clear the itch in my brain had escaped and was running down my legs and out into my arms so that it was impossible to keep still in bed. I twitched and sighed all night.

I got this idea that I needed a Dragon. Doesn’t every woman? My inner voice harps, “Be your own dragon.” Well, yes, sure, but this dragon is different. It’s a Nuance Naturally Speaking Bluetooth Dragon. I am not ready to create voice-to-type blog posts or novel chapters yet, but have sent out several Dragon-assisted emails that passed muster (not perfect, but close).  I’m thinking ahead for the future, which in my experience arrives a lot quicker than you planned. Now that I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up, I plan to become adept at voice-to-type before the osteoarthritis that has already made writing by hand uncomfortable stakes a claim on elbows and shoulders. Right now, writing to a keyboard is a joy, but when I’m cranking out stories at 95, maybe not so much. Of course, by then, the technological miracle of voice-to type will probably be like a Stone Age tool. Who knows? Maybe I’ll speak to a holographic image — let’s make him a hunky stud muffin while we’re theorizing — who will sit adoringly at my wrinkled knee and listen with perfect recall, processing words into strung pearls while we sip morning-glory tea or some other honeyed delight.  Ah, the future. I want high-tech and high touch.

This morning, though, there’s a bunch of frustrated characters laid out on the dining room table, flat as flitters on their index cards, waiting to jump up into their dimensional selves if only I would quit screwing around: Bree, Jess, Rory, Bo, P.J., Lilla, Ellie, Grace, Mary Alice, Troy, Ryan, and especially Evangeline are ready to boogie.

But they’re just going to have to wait a bit while I explore the sublime, which I found this morning. A new, much anticipated, book arrived at the post office yesterday, and I opened it for the first time while brushing my teeth early this morning.  I discovered this new gem by Terry Tempest Williams from writer/editor Lanie Tankard’s guest review on writer/teacher Richard Gilbert’s wonderful blog, Narrative.

It is the province of mothers to preserve the myth that we are unburdened with our own problems. Placed in a circle of immunity, we carry only the crises of those we love. We mask our needs as the needs of others. If ever there was a story without a shadow, it would be this: that we as women exist in direct sunlight only.

When women were birds, we knew otherwise. We knew our greatest freedom was in taking flight at night, when we could steal the heavenly darkness for ourselves, navigating through the intelligence of stars and the constellations of our own making in the delight and terror of our uncertainty.

What my mother wanted to do and what she was able to do remains her secret.

from When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams

Of course, I have dropped everything else to read. Wouldn’t you?