Let it Rain

If he builds it, they will come? is this for real?
If he builds it, they will come? is this for real?

I resorted to looking in my images archives for inspiration this morning, and this is the picture I found. I have no idea how it ended up on my hard drive or where it came from, but will take it as an omen. Of something. (There were a few other pix apparently from the same web location, showing a giraffe inside this massive ship–made, I suppose of gopher wood and the correct number of cubits long, high and wide.)

Perhaps the image is appropriate, since I am already feeling quite at sea. Today, for the first time, I made a brief attempt to add words to the novel started in November using MacSpeech Dictate. This is not going to be an easy transition.

The way your mind works with your fingers is quite different from the way your mind works with your lips and vocal cords. The rhythms are different, the vocabulary seems more restricted and stilted, and there is a sense of unforgiveness associated with dictation that I don’t feel when I type without thinking. Dictation so far seems all about thinking one word at a time in a very linear fashion. It’s okay for e-mail, but for creative writing — we will see.

This is the first morning in at least a month that the wood stove was not the first thing I thought about. It was 20° warmer this morning than yesterday, and 23 doesn’t feel so bad at all. Tomorrow and Thursday may be our brief January thaw before the Arctic oscillation sends us more polar air to enjoy.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. This could have been made for the movie, Evan Almighty. They filmed it in the Charlottesville area. We will be thawing out in New Orleans too, highs in the 50’s and 60’s. The tropicals here have been mostly destryoyed but they managed to save most of the strawberry and citrus crop. Enjoy the warm respite.

  2. Good luck with the transition from writing a story to speaking a story. Let me know how it turns out. I don’t know if I could wrap my mind around that concept or not. Been at the key board for waaaaay to many years but I’m willing to try anything. I will let you be the guinea pig, so to speak. Nice of me, isn’t it.


  3. I used Dragon Dictate several years ago to dictate my patient paperwork and it saved me oodles of keystrokes until: I got an office mate making noises picked up on my microphone and 2) I switched to Mac where the comparable program two years ago was much inferior to the PC version, but it has since caught up. I need to remember, when jotting short pieces like this, to put on the mic. Forgot to this time. Rats!

  4. Most writers become accustomed to writing in certain ways and changing is not easy. John O’Hara could only write at a desk while sitting in front of a typewriter in an office. He maintained an office in Manhattan and rode the train in from Connecticut each day, wrote for five or six hours, and then went home at night and didn’t think about it again until the next day.

    Truman Capote wrote in bed, using a pen and legal pad. William Manchester also wrote his books in longhand.

    Isaac Asimov wrote on a typewriter, never proofread a page and always sent his first draft to his publisher.

    O’Hara once sold movie rights to a novel before it was finished and sent his daily output to the film’s producer. At one point the producer called and said: “This is great! What happens next?”

    “I don’t know,” O’Hara said. “Damn typewriter broke.”

    Good luck.