For the first time since shortly before my bypass surgery two-plus months ago, I have written a new short story--completely new, from concept to final word.
Late yesterday afternoon an editor posted an "urgent call" for a story "4000-8000 words with a solid plot, realistic and gripping dialog, and a suspenseful conclusion," and she wanted it before 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
I saw the call around 4:00 yesterday afternoon. I spent the next few hours trying to imagine a story that would meet her needs and that I could draft in one non-stop block of time that evening.
At 6:30 I booted up my new laptop, started MacSpeech Dictate, and began talking. When I finally stopped at 11:10 that evening I had a complete, reasonably clean, 3,679-word draft. That's a dictation speed in the neighborhood of 13 words-per-minute, though I certainly didn't talk the entire time. I walked the dogs twice, did a load of laundry, and made repeated trips to the kitchen to refill my lemonade glass.
At 8:00 this evening I began editing and revising the story, and by 8:45 I had a final draft of 4,060 words. After reformatting the story from the default format I get when I dictate to standard manuscript format, I e-mailed the story to the editor.
If the story sells, I'll have paid for the dictation software, but I'll need to sell four or five more stories to pay for the new laptop.
What I learned:
The dictation software worked, though I had to make a few word-choice concessions--either using alternate words when the software didn't understand what I said or spelling the words I wanted--and I had to watch the screen closely while I dictated to ensure that I was getting what I wanted.
Part of the reason for this is that I'm not a write-and-revise-through-multiple-drafts writer. I'm a get-it-right-the-first-time writer and dictation software only has value to me if I can dictate my drafts as cleanly as I can type them.
Apparently, I can.