By David Crabtree
Baseball, basketball, hockey, piano, guitar, woodworking, wrenching on airplanes, all the other stuff you do with your hands, and finally age. I figured out why my fingers ache after working on the computer for a few hours. I now take salmon oil supplements, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM to help the old joints, and it seems to be working. Or is it the fact that I'm not actually typing as much as I used to. The bulk of my daily keyboarding, which is not an Olympic sport for some reason, had been during my afternoon writing time. My usual routine would be to review the previous days typing, clearing obvious errors, and then set off, not tickling the keyboard, but coming very close to assaulting it.
I remember the day as if it was, oh, back in 2010, when I first saw the ad for Dragon Naturally Speaking. I checked it out, saved my pennies, and ordered it. It has been one of the best things I have ever done for my writing. Yes, there is a learning curve, but there always is with anything new. This curve is rather short. Installation is easy and there are a few basic commands that you need to know. The most important thing is learning to speak distinctly. Having been trained at broadcasting school gave me a bit of an edge, but the old adage “use it or lose it” applies to announcers as well as singers. Once you train the program to recognize the way you speak, you will learn to “talk” the words that are in your head rather than write them. Describing a room or the weather becomes much easier without the mechanics of typing. It will seem odd at first to speak punctuation, or have to provide an instruction to start a new sentence but “new line,” “open quote”, and “undo” will soon become second nature and roll off your tongue as easily as the title to your favorite song.
Now for the disclaimer. No voice recognition software will ever totally replace your connection to a keyboard of some kind. At least not in my lifetime. I find editing much faster with the mouse and keyboard when it comes to correcting minor problems or even adding new thoughts. But while editing I have the program active, and my microphone ready just in case I want to add a larger thought. There are also quirks. For example, if you are telling about a sailor that is getting some “new line” you get….a new line on your page. You cannot say “new rope” because there is no rope on a ship. So there are some things to get used to, and to laugh about.
Whatever we can do to make our passion to write more enjoyable, we should seek out. I liked my ole’ Smith Corona portable typewriter, but I wouldn’t think of using it to write with when so many better options are available. I can speak into my phone or my tape recorder when I have an idea or a scene that comes to mind when I’m out and about, then download those recordings directly to text. There are just so many ways for us to write and I sometimes wonder what is on the horizon.
I am the youngest of three sons and was born in upstate New York. My mother, an immigrant whose family escaped from Germany in the mid-1930s, became a registered nurse. My father, a Mainer and noted architect, moved to the young family to a suburban town outside of Boston, Massachusetts. While taking night classes at Boston University in order to get into their School of Communications I was advised that my draft number was about to come up. So, including a year in Vietnam, I spent 10 years in the Air Force before going to work for a number of commercial airlines in the production and materials management areas. Later, as the airline business waned, I moved into technical writing. Currently I work as a consultant in the security field and write. I have been married for over 40 years and have one married daughter.
Writing seems to have been a part of my life. From an early age, I would make up stories or write songs, but rarely keep them. The urge finally got to me and I have actively written since the early 70s. I also have been a writer and editor on numerous organizational publications, newsletters and technical manuals. “Destiny and Decision” was my first full-length novel written for publication and is the first in the “Wands of Merlin” series. I also expound on some daily topics at www.dkcrabtree.wordpress.com
I enjoy a wide variety of leisure activities including riding my motorcycle, leather work, and photography. Some of my photographs can be seen in the Gallery section of my website www.dcrabtree.com or at my blog www.krabtree.blogspot.com
Books by David K. Crabtree currently available in print or Kindle.