Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Dragon, an Arm, and a Hammer

I've received a few requests to bring you up to date on my attempts to use the voice-control software Dragon Naturally Speaking, which many authors write with whether able-bodied or not.

Last winter I bought a copy of Dragon when I was having trouble with my dominant arm, possibly facing shoulder surgery with a long period of immobility during recovery. Seemed like a prudent thing to do. I blogged about my orientation and early uses of it, and I felt good about having Dragon as an option to help me write with a bum wing. Doing the whole pre-use protocol, where you read sample passages into your microphone so the software can get a sense of your accent and cadences, was a big help in accuracy.

Moreover, though, I was very much into the possibility of using the software as a regular way to get words down on the page (or the screen). Think of the ease, think of the sheer volume you could achieve!

I feel like a crouton, but I just haven't taken to it. It's a great program, and I have a feeling I'll give it another concerted try soon, but I just feel more comfortable with my old system of writing longhand, then typing it into a Word document, editing and rewriting as I go. I get such pleasure from putting words on the page using real pen and paper. Good old tools.

As it turns out, all alternative therapies for the shoulder—physical therapy, acupuncture, deep-tissue massage, even herbal supplements and this new-agey thing called biopuncture—have failed to make any improvement. Instead, things have gotten worse, including, as I'm sure you can imagine, my bank balance.

I'm scheduled for arthroscopic surgery next Tuesday. The doc has a disconcertingly long list of stuff to do in there, but he's supposed to be the best at wielding those tiny hammers and tongs. (Among other creds, he's the doctor for a MLB team and has all these framed jerseys lining his walls with inscriptions like, "Thanks for giving me my arm back.")  If all goes well, I'll have a very quick recovery, with few restrictions on movement and effort.

So YES, I'll probably give Dragon another try next week.

Tell us what you think! To post your ideas / comments, all of which I read and try to respond to, click below where it says, 'No Comments,' or '2 Comments,' or whatever.
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[Photo of good old tools by ES] 


  1. Elizabeth, well, just plain crud. And yet, those guys and gals who hide behind the blue masks can do great things. Dragon came up at my crit group and was universally thumbed down as nothing like reading/having your work read out loud. (Which I had happen for the first time the week before. Talk about hearing your own rhythms.) Still, not a one of the thumb downers are facing what you are. Own that puppy. Make it yours. After all, you do know they come with instructions. (How to Train Your Dragon) Will email the image can not attach.

    1. Thanks, Cordia. I'm sure all will go well! Thanks for the good wishes.


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