Dragon, Salvage, and Austin
Continuing with my Dragon dictation updates from last week, things are progressing well. Aside from a couple of days of initial set up delays, this round of dictation and transcription has gone very smoothly. This blog post, for example, is fully dictated.
Last week I told you that I had a delay and other frustrations involving getting set up and microphone issues, plus a Dragon profile that I was pretty sure was corrupted. It last Wednesday I created an entirely new profile, and performed the training reading again. I did not see a marked improvement over what the first profile had transcribed, so I think there's a chance the first profile was not so much corrupted but confused by some of the different inputs I was using for my audio. The same day, I ordered a new lavalier microphone, with more noise canceling power, and so I didn't invest a lot of time in the new training. However, I did continue to record while walking every morning, even knowing I was going to create a new profile. I simply skipped the training and correction in Dragon afterward.
I have noticed, both with the old microphone and the new one, that occasionally Dragon seems to skip entire portions of my audio file. This can be anything from the beginning of a sentence to an entire sentence. This is as troubling as you can imagine. Since it has happened over multiple profiles and multiple microphones, I wonder if it has something to do with the zoom H1 recorder that I'm using. I have considered switching to one of the Sony recorders that I see people using, but the best ones cost twice as much as the zoom H1 and I'm not ready to make that change, yet.
I've really been enjoying the walks every morning, which I take just after the sun comes up. Right now, that's about 6:30 AM. I walk for half an hour, up and down the same stretch of flat road which allows my voice to remain even and my energy untaxed. I have seen the same group of wild turkeys almost every morning, and it amuses me to no end the way they watch me poking their heads out over the brush at the edge of the road like the comps and that like the compies in Jurassic park lost world.
There are deer, squirrels, crows, and a hickory tree that threatens me every time I walk but beneath it, so far nothing has hit me in the head, yet, but there's a squirrel up there who's got to get better with all this practice.
As far as the quality of what I'm dictating, I haven't rediscovered my voice yet. I am reassured that Joanna Penn recently said in an interview that she also sounds ridiculous in her dictated files, and though she's creating first drafts very quickly, they require more work afterward to turn into pleasant narrative. Time will tell whether this trade-off of invested time will be worth it. I tend to go into a story with so much planning, that merely recounting my detailed outline in sentence and paragraph doesn't feel like I'm effectively using the time. But my fit bit has never been more proud of me, except maybe when I walked 23,000 steps a day through Disney World. So I'll keep at it, and hope that my voice finds me.
I'm going to run up against a few obstacles after not too long. Public schools start up again this week, and while I will be traveling on the first day of school, when I get back I will have to deal with walking past the bus stop near my house, and either the noise from background chatter or the self-confidence issues of talking in front of a bunch of teenagers. Of course, the teenagers are included in my audience so maybe I can get them interested in this author that they live near. Of course due to our age gap, I will probably be labeled a crazy lady first.
In other news, I met with my editor last night to discuss SALVAGE's current state.
He has challenged me to identify the theme for Salvage and to make small adjustments as necessary to support that theme throughout the story. FLOTSAM's theme appeared organically and, I'm told, was the typical First Novel Theme that almost every new author employs. For some reason that's embarrassing to me, but who do I think I am to get to skip the first step that everyone else experiences as well? In martial arts I wasn't embarrassed to have to learn the first form, it was a step to getting better and learning the next.
Still, intentionally focusing on theme feels kind of like putting on my shirt before my bra. The themes identified by reviewers often make me say to myself, "okay well, yeah sure, but that's just what the story's about." So I guess I think of 'theme' as something more precious than what it really needs to be.
Anyway, the editor assured me it's getting close. The items that he gave me to work on are not major, but will require another thorough pass or two. There's not even really a huge amount of "what should I do?" that I have to worry about. I will let the theme question simmer. I will keep working on the Costco Cup Sample this week, maybe touch it up on the plane ride, and then dive back into Salvage when that's done.
I don't consider myself bad at short stories, per se. But I definitely don't involve this much plot in them. And I'm not sure whether to try and make this a short piece of prose, or allow it to feel more like an excerpt from a novel. I imagine my authorial voice would change depending on the intention with which I write. So it's probably best to keep it sounding as close to flotsam's voice as possible, rather than approach it like the introspective thoughtful and poetic lyricism that I might apply to a short piece of fiction. Maybe it comes down to theme, and I should practice approaching this piece with theme in mind before I tackle it in Salvage.
There won't be a creative writing snippet this Thursday because I will be traveling. I probably will not bring my voice recorder with me on my trip just to have fewer things to keep track of. Anyway I suspect I won't have as much free time, or quiet moments, as I would need to get anywhere in my writing. So I will edit if I find myself bored without anything to do, but I really don't anticipate that happening.
I will be traveling home next Tuesday when it will be time for another author update. I imagine I'll get something done either before I go or on the planes that I can report on, even if it's just a blog post composed on my phone from the airport.