Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Writing by Mouth

I find myself returning to something I originally tried many many years ago: using speech recognition software.  I can't tell you exactly what it was a dead product for the first time; I do know that it was sometime in the 90s.  I still got the software package over on my shelf where old software goes to die; if it was really important, I suppose I could look up to date from that.  It's not worth it to me, though, because that would involve moving to lots of stuff around, closing drawers, and probably falling into the cat box.

The way it started  originally,  was an attempt to record some of the stories I was telling my children at the time.  For Mickey the Moose, my youngest, I told him a series of McGinty stories.  Those were about the illustrious McGinty family, all of whom had unusual names.  There was Tow Truck McGinty, Crowbar McGinty,  Tweety Bird McGinty,  and Phillip McGinty.  Now, each of these people had real names like Wilbur and George and Martin,  but nobody called them that.  Nobody, that is, except their grandmother.  She said the nicknames were just foolishness.  She wasn't a McGinty, she was a McGillicuddy.

But, what was originally begun just as an exercise to record stories has now become an attempt to stay in contact with the world in spite of fingers that ache.  I've got this chronic pain issue, and it flares up from time to time.  Changes in weather, and particularly changes in weather that include cold weather, seem to set it off.  I used to be able to take anti inflammatory meds, and that was great. That's no longer an option, because they make me bleed inside.

The biggest difficulty I'm having is not making myself understood to the speech recognition software.  The biggest problem I'm having is learning to think differently.  I started composing using a word processing package, on a daily basis, around 1984 or 1985.  I don't remember what year it was when I last tried to compose writing longhand on a legal pad, it was sometime in the 1990s, but I do remember being very dissatisfied with the results.  And I'm finding, in this bright new year of 2016, that I'm just not as fluent in my thinking when composing while I'm speaking as I was when composing through my fingers onto a keyboard.

I have had some great support and encouragement as I undertake applying this technology.  Some folks have suggested new ways of reducing inflammation in my hands.  Others have suggested speech recognition programs, including some great dictation software which will delete pauses and other conversational hiccups.

But this is all experimental right now.  As I look at what I've gotten written down on paper (actually it's not written down on paper, it written down with pixels on the screen) it's almost repugnant to me.  That's NOT the way I write!  And it's not the way I think, either.  Even little items, like the insertion of a comma, disrupt my flow.  And then I have to go back and make the corrections.  I'm telling you, this is a real pain!

Only time will tell whether this will work out or not.  So far though it's not working.  I look at what I've written, and it seems like I've had my sense of humor cut away in surgery.  (OK, that's what I wanted to say.  Here's what the first draft said: )


If I can stand it, I'm going to keep trying to write using the speech recognition software.  I think that's the best thing for me; however, I doubt very seriously that is the best thing for you, the paltry few who actually read my posts.  It may just be that things are going to be awful for a while.  But, if I don't keep posting, I am going to get out of the habit of doing it.  And, if I get out of the habit of doing it, I'll probably just become a parasitic reader, my only contribution being the $9.99 per month that my Kindle Unlimited subscription costs.  That's discouraging to me.

So, I guess I'm going back to school.  The school of learning how to write while speaking.

Is this gonna be on the final?


  1. I think it's amazing and inspiring how you keep running into these obstacles and you keep doing your best to overcome them, or at least find your way around them.

  2. I agree with Cedar. You rock, Pat, and the way you keep going reminds me to quit feeling sorry for myself when things get tough.

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pukq_XJmM-k