Friday, February 18, 2011

Bathed In The Sweetness That Is Indian Summer

Last month ago, I posted a rather incomplete piece of prose, which was basically done to show everyone what happens when you become sidetracked by the ultimate minutia that is called "work". Today's post will be another example of becoming sidetracked by another type of minutia called "why am I writing this blog post using my Dragon Software?"

Back in mid-October of 2010, I decided to make another attempt at writing a piece of something using my Dragon Software. For those of you may not remember this litttle tidbit about me, I seemed to be deathly afraid of writing with my voice. Brain to hands, not a problem (well, physical yes, mental, piece o' cake). Brain to mouth, unless I'm telling a funny story or having a chit chat with a friend, major malfuction.

Anyways, I opened up a Word document and started up my voice app. While I was waiting for it to open, I tried to find a naturally comfortable position order to "write" my post. I should tell you that the previous times were spent with the hands placed on the keyboard like I was going to type, then I started speaking (and doing the ocassional typing).

I finally found a comfortable position to sit in and began to write. It really was a struggle trying to write while speaking because I kept wanting to type everything out. Eventually, I was able to write about a page's worth of text before the well dried up (thus the abrupt ending). However, I did discover that there may be hope for me yet. I think that the only way that I can make this work out to my satisfaction is if I start treating writing by voice like I was having a conversation with a friend/co-worker or just extending one of my hourly five minute tangents that I do at work.

In any event, here is the post in question. The topic of choice was one of my bi-weekly/monthly drives to the Hemlock Hills campground up in Litchfield CT. Not sure on where I wanted to go with this, but perhaps this could give you a little peek into what my frame of mind was in around the early fall of 2010. I originally had no title for this post, so the title of today's post should suffice.


As I previously stated in my post of October 10th, I went out for a drive. Well, not really a drive, but more like a long road trip, at least for me anyways. As most of you know, I don't do long road trips anymore, simply because my decaying body can't handle being cooped up in a car for anything longer than twenty minutes at a clip. But, in this case, it was a necessary evil, because I had to pick up my wife and daughter at the campsite and bring them back home so that the daughter could go to a birthday party later in the afternoon.

So I got my tired ass out the door and on the road by nine thirty, and after stopping at the gas station to take care of some personal business, I was truly on my way at nine forty-four. Now normally on drives like this, I usually have the radio blasting, but since my radio was broken I had nothing to keep myself entertained beyond the thoughts that were rambling around in my head.

At the start of my drive about the only thing I really thought about as I was making my way through the suburban jungle and out into the country, was my short story Dandelion Tears, which I had started working on again this weekend. I was trying to figure out how best to advance a particular scene without throwing in a moment of gratuitous sex, but not having much luck.

I eventually stopped at McDonald's for a pit stop and coffee. Once I did and got those particular items done I was back on the road again, this time traveling through the suburban countryside (or rather, what passed for countryside in the Farmington Valley) towards Litchfield.

Once I got setting into a comfortable driving position, which for me was one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand holding the cup of coffee, I allowed my mind to start wandering again. However, unlike the first part of the trip where I was thinking about my story, this time I was letting my mind be influenced by the mountains and the rural countryside.

About fifteen minutes or so in to the second part of my trip, I had a peculiar feeling come over me. Driving through state routes 4 and 118, and observing the scenery passing me by, I suddenly felt like I was traveling back in time, or rather through a hybrid mix of two distinctly different views of America: Disney's version of America and Norman Rockwell's version of America.

It really is kind of hard to explain what I was going through during that one hour drive, beyond the fact that for the first time in a very long while, I felt completely calm and relaxed. I didn't feel like I was simply getting in touch with my spiritual side...


  1. I can't imagine speaking aloud to "write". My writing voice and my speaking voice are quite distinct. I can see how it would be a big challenge. You have succeeded in this piece!

  2. It's not surprising that you find you have difficulty with the brain functions between speaking a story, and typing a story. They really do come from different parts of the brain. When you are typing, you're always editing as you type (though, no one does this 100%). Maybe if you also try either walking around, as if pacing and speaking out your thoughts, or standing/sitting in a way where you are not constantly monitoring the computer as it types through with the voice program. I'm pretty sure that this is the major area in which your concentration breaks.

  3. I've never tried any voice software but I love to tell a story so perhaps I should.

  4. That sounds like a lovely drive - sometimes it takes something like to have a sense of renewal.

  5. Sorry if this sounds like a stupid question, but i guess dragon software is some sort of speaking device that translate spoken words onto a word document ? I've never head about the software but heard of the technology before.

  6. S.R.: Thanks.

    For the most part, I usually use the software for dictating stuff that I've written out by hand. Just wanted to do a little expirementation with it 'cause I know that some day my hands will get to that point of no return.

    Carla: I've done that every once in a while, but I'm limited on just how far I can walk away from the computer.

    Because I don't use the software on a consistant basis, it hasn't completely gotten all the nuances of my speech patterns and voice, so I often have to make corrections to what I write and manually put in special formatting (i.e. italics).

    Travis: For someone like you, who enjoys telling a story, this type of software could really be an excellent addition to your writing reportoire. It just might give your stories that certain natural rythym that can often get lose when you go from voice to paper.

    Lynn: For all of the griping I do whenever I have to go up to the campground, the drive up and back is the only thing I really enjoy about the trip.

    Driving through the Farmington valley and up through the northwestern part of the state often does give me that sense of renewal and sometimes just a little bit of inspiration for writing.

    Sam: Many thanks for stopping by to comment. There is no such thing as a stupid question.

    Dragon is the trade name of Nuance Communications, and they make a variety of voice recognition software products for both the personal and business markets, domestic and abroad.

    Its the one software product that a lot of people and organizations recommend and I first read about it in Quest magazine (MDA).

    It really is a good product to use, but I have this thing about speaking for writing. So from time to time I will often publicly flog myself over the fact that I'm such a head case about it.

  7. Sounds like an interesting drive. I spend a great deal of my time behind the wheel, as we live in the country every trip I do is at least an hour or more, and I often find I get into this slightly surreal situation you've described so well.

  8. Joe: It's kind of fun in a way, although without a functioning radio, I often find myself really not on the trip in spirit. The body is there, but the spirit is definitely someplace else.

    I can see where having an hour commute could be somewhat deadly without something to occupy your mind in the process.

    Surreal or not, you can often find solice when you're spending that much time behind the wheel in an area that gives off positive vibes 99% of the time.

  9. I like it. I can't imagine being able to do that, though, since I'm so used to typing. I actually wrote in a journal last night and it felt so foreign. These days I only seem to write out cards, notes, and my signature.

  10. R: Unless you're always using it, it's very difficult to get comfortable with it. I do have other blogger friends who use it and they absolutely love it.

    This software is great to use if you have physical limitations that prevent you from writing the normal way.

    That being said, it seems like I'm in the same boat in that the only thing that I've really managed to write in the past week was business correspondence at work and maybe a few paragraphs to my WiP.

  11. I sometimes speak poetry into my little tape recorder, or individual lines of prose but I would find it hard to do more than that. I'm sure it's a matter of getting used to it though. LIke anything else.

  12. Charles: Exactly. It is the matter of getting used to it, but the problem is that how do you get used to using something when you're afraid to use it in the first place?

  13. Everyone needs that kind of drive once in a while. Hope all is well G :)

  14. Kelly: It's going. We all hit those down periods where we just need to find a long moment alone to decompress.


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