Okay, I’m going to try something a little different today.
This morning, I finally got around to taking a bunch of electronic gear down to the depot, which I feel very virtuous about and pleased at the empty spaces that have opened up in my apartment.
One was a Brother Word Processor – a somewhat queer device like an electronic typewriter with an LCD screen and a 3.5″ floppy disk drive. The drive would only work with drives that had been formatted with some proprietary format that no other 3.5″ disk drive could ever make sense of. It served me well from when my parents got it in 1992 or ’93, (so that I could actually do homework instead of distracting myself with games on the family PC,) all through my York University years, until I finally bought my first full laptop computer, the Windows 98 Compaq. But I haven’t really used it since. Nine or ten years ago I found out that the printing attachment no longer worked even after I procured a fresh new ink ribbon, so the only way to get anything from the floppy is by reading it off the screen.
Before I got rid of the Brother, I had to search around the floppy disk still in the drive to see if I wanted to keep it. There were four files full of indexes of home VHS tapes, which I scanned through and typed quite a lot of search terms into the Alphasmart, to see if I can find some of those movies or TV shows online, or on DVD. (I also took my broken VHS player down to the dump.) There was a personal note from a friend that I think he’ll get a kick out of hearing about again.
And there was this passage from a ‘Star Patrol’ file that I must have written sometime between 1996 and 1998, as a sort of coda tacked on to the end of the really old chapter 1. It involves a flashback where my four intrepid space cadets share their darkest secrets, including Melissa Dempsey’s bombshell about living a lie.
I read this off the screen into the Voice Recorder app on my LG Eclypse android, and then converted the .3gp file to MP3 format. There’s a few places where I stumble, or where I’m deliberately correcting a typo from the original text. I hope you enjoy listening.
There was some great conversation between the four of us who showed up to Chester’s Beers of the World for the Hamilton Writers meeting last night – once they turned down the music enough that we could hear each other speak, that is. 😉
One interesting topic that came up was our choice of writing process – specifically between three very different experiences – typing on a keyboard, scribbling with a pen or pencil on paper, and speaking into a voice recorder. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to the different options.
I’m a typer; I have been since I was very young; taught myself how to go beyond two-finger hunt and peck typing, though it took proper typing lessons to cure myself of looking at the screen. I have handwriting so horrible that I can’t read it myself, and I get very nervous about the sound of my voice and my ums and uhs if I try talking into a voice recorder. But I’ve never really needed an alternative to typing – it’s a process that works very well for me.
The new gentleman who brought up this topic for conversation said that he found that a voice recorder and Dragon Naturally Speaking work very well for him – especially after he’s reached the halfway point in a story, which is where the tough part usually begins for him. He can usually cruise through the first half on a keyboard, he said, but then gets blocked if he can’t talk it through. Another writer that I’ve known for many years mentioned that she associates keyboards as a tool for a day job, not a part of her writing process, so she writes her first drafts out in longhand.
Have you found the process that works for you? Is there some special subprocess within those big three that you write best with, (a particular keyboard device, that perfect notebook paper, or whatever?) Do you ever wish that you could find a better process than the one you’re writing with now?