Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Using Speech-to-Text




The subject for this posting was to be a continued sharing of the books on the American Revolution to which I've listened in the past four months. Specifically, I was going to tell you about two novels that humanize those men who fought the war, won the independence, and secured the republic. So often these leaders are presented as demigods. Jeff Shaara’s historical fiction portrays their flaws as well as their virtues. Thus, they become approachable human beings. 

That sharing, however, is going to have to wait because I want to tell you what’s happening with my writing.

Since December, I’ve struggled with a second memoir. Two questions kept giving me pause: What part of my life shall I write about? And, what thematic thread will weave all the stories together? That thread is important for it determines which life stories I’ll tell.

During the weeks I could work at the computer, I began the memoir a number of times, arriving each time at a cul-de-sac that led to yet another beginning. Ultimately, I decided to write a memoir that would serve as both prequel and sequel to Prayer Wasn’t Enough, the convent memoir I published in 2018. That experience will be only a chapter, or possibly two in this second memoir. 

Eye issues have been part of my struggle. I have the energy to write 2 ½ hours a day, but with my vision/focus regimen that means 5 hours. It’s ½ hour writing, followed by ½ hour resting my eyes. I would need to do that 5 times to get in the writing. With that schedule I might have a first draft completed sometime next year. Then I’d need to do a second and possibly a third draft. Given the time it always takes me to get to a final manuscript, the memoir would probably be published in mid-to-late 2022.



Giving 5 hours a day to writing seems formidable to me because I also want to blog, exercise, meditate—and of course, listen to books, prepare and eat meals, visit friends on the phone, sit on the screened-in porch and chill out, and . . . sleep. 

Last week, one of my nieces suggested that I use the speech-to-text function of my Mac/Microsoft Word. That is, I would sit with my eyes closed so I wouldn't be focusing and having to do that 5-hour regimen.  I could simply talk. My words would become text. After trying that function, we both realized it would require a great deal of editing because of all the misunderstood words. 

A friend then described his experience with “speech-to-text.” He thought the difference between his experience and mine was the Mac system I was using. With his help, I downloaded and then installed Catalina 10.15—an upgrade from El Capitan 10.6.  


However, my Microsoft Word program wouldn’t work with the new system. Thus, I’ve had to purchase the most recent Word for Macs and am learning how to use it. For someone as technologically inept as myself, this has been challenging. It’s why I didn’t post Sunday. 
Today, I’m using “speech-to-text” and liking it. This will mean that I can keep my eyes closed/unfocused and thus not need 5 hours to do 2 ½ hours of writing. 

O joy in the morning!
Peace.

PS: The five books pictured here are among the memoirs I've read and enjoyed in the past years. Of course, Educated by Tara Westover is a favorite now. 

Covers from Amazon.

22 comments:

  1. I have never used any of the programs you have listed here. I have, though, used the mic in texting and have left a few odd messages for people. One has to be careful when enunciating as the computer can interpret what you say differently. Last year, when my daughter texted me to ask if I needed any of her pans for a family dinner, my reply came out, “No thanks, I do not need any of your lady parts as I have enough of my own.” I really should check before I hit send. Needless to say, it has become a good family story.

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    1. Dear Arleen, I so enjoyed your story of the "lady parts." Thanks for sharing. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who make embarrassing slip-ups. I tend not to read the comments I leave on blogs. There's only so much time to be at the computer and so I type a response and just publish it. I've probably made a lot of real faux-pas! Hope all is well. Keeping our spirits positive right now demands a resolution that is sometimes hard for me. Peace.

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  2. The speech to text program sounds ideal for you and a great solution. I think Joan Didion's memoir is captivating reading.

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    1. Dear Terra, I think the program will help me greatly, making me much more aware of my enunciation and also my pronunciation. I hope it helps me get the book done sooner.

      As to Didion'r memoir, I think your word truly captures the book; it's "captivating." I read it in one sitting shortly after it was published. Peace.

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  3. Wow, that is a great idea and one I would never have thought of. So glad you have found a way to make it work. Kind of an amazing world we live in with all the helpful gadgets. Hope this gives you less misunderstood words. I know autocorrect can get creative with what we meant.

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    1. Dear Patti, I frequently feel that we are living the first line of Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities." That is, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." The technology is so helpful in many ways. (I'm sure the speech to text will help me. And yet it other ways this technology (witness the lies and misrepresentations on Facebook and the Russian hacking of the last election) is dark and destruction. I guess every coin has two sides. Take care. Peace.

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  4. When I started reading this, dictating popped into my mind and one paragraph later, there you were — already ahead of me! I am so glad you found a way to write another memoir to share your experiences and wisdom. Sign me up!
    Peace & Love.

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    1. Dear Cynthia, thanks for the vote of confidence. As I age, I just can't spend as much time as I used to working on my writing. So I have to accept that writing this second memoir--and getting it right!--is going to take a lot of time. How much I'm not sure, but I'll simply come to the computer when I'm not having a Meniere's day and hope that the words give themselves to me. Peace.

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  5. Educated by Tara Westover was a remarkable book and story, wasn't it.

    Keep working on the voice-to-text process. You'll work it out and be an old pro in no time. The challenge is good brain exercise and the promise of how it will speed up your writing is exciting.

    Looking forward to your next memoir.

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    1. Dear Jean, Westover's book truly is remarkable. She went to the marrow of her life and her honesty enriches every scene.

      I will keep working on the voice-to-text process. thanks for believing that I'll work it out. I do so want to continue writing.

      And thanks, too, for believing that the memoir will come to be. Peace.

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  6. I just finished re-reading a couple of Russell Baker's books. I wonder if I ever could read Angela's Ashes again. Ah, well.
    I use the speech to text function whenever I can. Best thing since pockets!
    I will have your next book, when published.

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    1. Dear Joanne, I'm also not sure about reading McCourt's book again. I remember it--especially maybe the first 100 pages as being harrowing. If you haven't read "The Color of Water" by McBride, I highly recommend it. He's a fine writer and his mother's story is unforgettable. Peace.

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  7. I have read all those books except Russell Baker. Now I need to find and enjoy one. I am so glad to hear that the speech to text system is coming along. You are certainly determined, in spite of everything, Dee! Thanks for this update.

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    1. Dear DJan, I never think of myself as "determined." But then for all of the years of my being an editor and curriculum developer and teacher, I never thought of myself as being a "workaholic," yet all my friends used the word when trying to convince me that I needed to let go and relax! So, I accept "determined"! Peace.

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  8. You sound like a real advanced tech person to me. I know you would never believe that. I'm writing my memoir or at least what appears as I look back on my life, on my blog.I would not be able to try for a book at this time in my life. So, as always, I admire you so much, you love to write and you find ways to do it. Take care my friend.

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    1. Dear Inger, no, I truly am a neophyte with regard to technology. However, I'm fortunate in that I have a niece and a friends who are real masters at all this and they have the ability to explain in such a way that I can get a measure of their meaning! I'm so glad that you are sharing your life on the blog. Now I have to get myself organized enough to return to reading blogs on a regular basis. Take care; stay safe. Peace.

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  9. I hope the speech to text works well for you, Dee. It seems to be a good solution if all the kinks have been worked out. I have to say that you seem very organized in your planning. I listened to "Angela's Ashes" years ago. Loved hearing the Irish accents... And I read "The year of Magical Thinking" also, but have not read "Growing up". Working my way through "Educated" but having a difficult time with it. Everyone says to just keep reading.

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    1. Dear Rian, like you, I got a little bogged down in "Educated," and also like you, others encouraged me to go on, and I'm glad I did.Her triumph is mixed with great sorrow and, yes, tragedy. She arrived, I think, at a ferocious awareness of her ability to survive.

      I suspect you might find both "Wave" and "The Color of Water" as mesmerizing as I did. Take care. I hope the cats are well. Peace.

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  10. I had similar experience with text to speech function, is Catalina 10.15 any good?

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    1. Dear Kim, I'm so technologically inept that I'm not at all sure what a system like Catalina 10.15 does as opposed to Microsoft Word. My niece--who's been raised with computers and all the technology--helps me with everything. I just know that the speech to text is going fairly well except I need to enunciate better. Peace.

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  11. I have essential tremors which means I cannot word process on my desktop. So my solution is something called the Dragon it's talk to type and works quite well but you are correct it needs serious editing with occasional wrong words in the mix. I do my own editing now as my recently deceased English teaching wife did that. So what I do is read the text the next day where I'm more alert or notice mistakes I'm very pleased with the system otherwise I would able to blog. Ray

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    1. Dear Ray, what I'm learning is that as we age, all of us are dealing with something that demands we find new ways of doing things. I've never heard of "essential tremors," but I would think that with any tremors it would be hard to word process. I'm so glad that you've worked out a way to blog because your postings are always so interesting to me. I'm really enjoying the Canadian trip you did a number of years ago.

      As you've indicated, I've found also that I must do an editing the next day when what I said is still somewhat fresh in my mind so I can correct the words that I must not have enunciated well. There are always some words--that I don't remember saying!!!!--that just make me chuckle when taken in context with the other words. Take care. Stay safe. Peace. And thanks so much for visiting my blog.

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