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FOWC with Fandango

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I followed Fandango’s link here to Christine’s post. She asks the questions many of us have been asking for years. I think it is important to be vocal. To take a stand and use that as momentum when we go to the polls. Our legislators have ‘normalized’ these horrors so much, I can always see the responses before they are spewed all over the news. I knew after Sandy Hook how little we as a whole disregard the lives our children. No parent or child should face these kinds of fears. We must take ownership of our part when we vote for people who do not care about the future of our children.

Thank you Christine, for giving voice to the questions all Americans should be asking.

Stine Writing

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Can you believe that there was another shooting? Can you believe there have been 44 school shootings just this year? Can you even try to find a reason as to why this continues to happen? Can you imagine what these people are going through? Can you feel the pain they feel? Can you feel how scared they are? Can you think of a way to stop this? Can you make any sense of this? Can you find a way to keep others safe? Can our kids go to school and be safe? Can we go to work and be safe? Can we find a way to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people? Can we work together to find a solution? Can we try to help the people who are so sick? Can we just stop this violence? Can I do something? Can you do…

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Blog, Writing

Dictation and Transcription

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I worked as a secretary for many years early in my career. Other than a high school typing class, it was not a conscious career choice or one that I prepared for. My first job, a waitress. My second job, the Air Force. I have done factory work and taken any opportunity I could. Working as a secretary, however, was the first step toward my career in IT.

I once held a position as a secretary for a pulp and paper mill construction company. We purchased a state-of-the-art word processor. (Yes, word processors started as specialized software in specialized equipment). Our company purchased a CPT 8000. It was the first time I remember being able to see a document on the screen before it was printed. Pretty snazzy.

This is where I first learned (but never fully mastered) how to use a dictaphone. This device allowed someone (our engineers and inspectors) to dictate construction reports to a micro-cassette. When ready for transcribing, the tape was put into a machine with foot pedals that allowed the person typing to rewind, fast-forward or erase (which I did inadvertently one day) the tape, all hands-free.

I never took shorthand, although I did teach myself some shorthand our of pure curiosity. If I had a formal shorthand class, I think I would have been really good at it. Transcribing was never my thing, although I did it and did an accurate job. I never enjoyed it, though.

Where the heck is this rabbit hole story going you ask? Excellent question!

A few nights ago, I found myself behind in my NaNoWriMo word count. I was tired and my typing accuracy was waning. Then I remembered this feature in MS Word for dictation and I thought I would give it a whirl. Well, let me tell you what I learned.

  • I must have a bit of an accent because the transcription of my dictation had a few problems. Perhaps I was tired and my enunciation was poor. Once I could see where it was not working, I was quickly able to readjust and move on.
  • It was also a learning curve to add punctuation. I still have not mastered using quotations for dialogue.
  • Writing for me is a very tactile experience. Moving thoughts, through my fingers and onto paper or computer allows me to slow my thought process a little. My English brain kicks in. Spelling and punctuation are part of the writing process. I can think ahead about what is coming before it reaches the paper.
  • Dictation is quite a different animal. Speaking dialogue adds the sense of hearing to the process. I found myself adding emotional emphasis in my voice that does not translate well to the end result. I also found the process unfurling faster and messier. The time it takes to move from the brain though the hands is valuable for me as a writer.
  • No one wants to hear me talking to my computer for any extended period of time.
  • These few sections of my novel will require much more editing time. This is DEFINITELY the ‘messy middle’.

I discovered that dictating has as many complexities as transcribing. The tools are much more advanced, but these tools are not always a writer’s best friend. But what a great boon for the writers that need the accommodations that these tools provide. Hooray!

For me, though, it is back to the keyboard. I am at a major turning point in the story and having the extra time for thoughts to move through these brain connections will be important.

I am feeling very nostalgic about writing on an IBM Selectric typewriter, though. There was something comforting about that constant whirrrr. I wonder how many people write on an electric typewriter these days? I do not think my hands could handle a completely manual typewriter.

Lots of editing ahead. Lots and lots of editing. At least I am on target with my word count now!