In this post I talked about my childhood nickname, Chatterbox, and how my dad tried to train me to tell a story succinctly.
In this post I talked about the repetitive strain injury I get in my wrists, and the dictation software (a.k.a. Dragon) that Andy bought me to help relieve/avoid the pain.
A week before Christmas, I attended a work holiday party with Andy. I was nervous for a variety of reasons. (We would be the youngest couple there, people were going to ask about my writing, etc.) But one person managed to put me completely at ease: Andy’s boss’s wife. I’ll call her C.
Only a few years older than us, C made the best first impression of anyone I’ve met in a long, long time. Born and raised in Spain, educated in America, the daughter of a pilot, and an avid reader, she was worldly, warm, and well-spoken. When I told her that I write “books for teens,” she said, “Oh, you mean Young Adult?” I think my girl crush started right then and there. We talked at length about books, culture, and travel, and by the end of the night I pretty much wanted to be C when I grew up.
(This is all related and going somewhere, I promise.)
Part of what I admired in C was her eloquence. She didn’t hurry to speak, she didn’t add unnecessary thoughts, she didn’t stumble over her words. I’m kind of the opposite. I speak before I think, my jokes and anecdotes come out all jumbled, and sometimes I even forget what I’m trying to say in the middle of saying it. Because it’s fueled by enthusiasm, sometimes it can come off as cute. But I’m 26 now and (unfortunately) only getting older. Cute won’t work forever.
Part of what my dad was trying to get me to do — besides just not annoying him — was to arrange my thoughts ahead of time. Figure out how to say what I wanted to say in an interesting and effective manner. That was probably too much to ask of someone who still played with Polly Pockets, but it’s a skill I would very much like to have — or at least develop — now.
Enter the Dragon.
Dictating e-mails, blog posts and comments, etc. isn’t so weird. I just kind of pretend that I’m talking to whoever is on the receiving end, as opposed to my shiny MacBook. But stories are, well, a different story. I don’t naturally think out loud. Or rather, when I do, my thoughts come out rather clunky and rambling. Not exactly the words you want applied to your manuscript.
But maybe this is a good thing. Maybe using my Dragon more will not only prevent my RSI, but also teach me to think before I speak. To be able to edit my words in my head as well as on the page. Maybe I too can seem as worldly, warm, and well-spoken as C.
Or maybe I’ll just look like a crazy person talking to myself. Only time will tell.