When I attended The Writer’s Studio nearly a decade ago, I was working full-time on my writing. For the next couple of years I continued to write almost daily, until I began to get severe cramps — first in my elbow, and then my shoulder. When the pain got so severe that I could no longer raise my right arm, I went to the doctor who sent me to a specialist who suggested that I have a condition known as Frozen Shoulder. This disorder is common to diabetics and he recommended cortisone treatments to reduce the pain. He also suggested that my elbow pain was likely tennis elbow and that the cortisone injections would help them as well.
Surprisingly, the treatments worked almost immediately and I went back to my usual pace of 8 to 10 hours a day of typing on my computer keyboard. In less than a month the pain returned, worse than before. A few months later, I went back for a 2nd treatment, and once again my symptoms disappeared. When they soon returned again, I did some further research and found out the cortisone doesn’t solve the problem, merely masks the symptoms and that it’s quite possible to do more severe damage while the drug is in the system. Unfortunately, by this point, I had so severely strained my arm that the only course of action was to stop writing for nearly a year.
During that time I began to explore voice-recognition software as an alternative way of inputting text into the computer. In the old days, when I still used PCs, I had had some success with the program called Dragon Dictate, but once I switched to the Mac I needed to find a similar program. Fortunately Dragon had released a Mac version of their program, and I began to experiment using it on my laptop to some success. One thing that had changed dramatically in a few years was the speed at which dictation could be translated into computer text. I found that I could now speak in at normal speed, and as long as I remembered to speak correct punctuation (COMMA), the program could capture 95% of what I said without mistakes (PERIOD).
I’m not sure why I stopped using the program; perhaps it was because I quit writing soon after I completed my 2nd go round at The Writer Studio’s in 2009. I had spent close to 2 years editing and redrafting my memoir, had gone through sessions at Banff, did some online UBC Booming Ground sessions with Catherine Bush and Gail Anderson-Dargatz, a manuscript intensive with Betsy Warland, then spent another year as an adjunct writer at SFU with Wayde Compton. I had finally gotten to the point where I had submitted a draft of my manuscript to a couple of publishers. After close to a year I received my first rejections and decided it was time to give the manuscript a rest for a while. Seems like I’m still giving it a rest, but lately the manuiscript has begun to intrude on my consciousness and I find myself ready to go and attack it once more.
Last week I got an offer from the Dragon Dictate people for a new version so I placed an order and the software arrived yesterday. I installed it, did the five-minute training exercise, donned the headset that came with the package, and here I am sitting at the computer dictating this post. I’ve had to make about 10 corrections since I started, but my words are flowing into my blog like magic. Ah, writing at last — the easier way.