Saturday, August 22, 2009

Missing in Action

I know I have been gone without any explanation and I am sorry. In the end the simple tweaking of A Cornish House turned far more onerous than I had anticipated. The family were initially quite tolerant, but as my computer time didn't lessen but grew a revolt of major proportions began........ So I went onto radio silence and pushed through until the damned thing was posted to RNA New Writers' Scheme.

I have been made to swear that I will not leave next year's submission to the summer or they will collectively divorce me. They are right. It was completely unfair of me to make them sit around while the sun actually shone in Cornwall just because I had a deadline. I will not do that again. I will find a waterproof/ sandproof laptop! No seriously I did bring a hard copy to the beach, but then spent the next day inputting the changes......

In this whole process I did have a meaningful moment. As most of you know I am dyslexic so I really struggle to proof anything. Even if I read alloud I don't find mistakes because my mind fills in the blanks and rearranges things to suit. I didn't have time to send ACH to be proof read (again leaving things to the last minute) so thanks to the advice of BubbleCow I downloaded a free text to voice programme and listened to ACH being read by the worst voice in history BUT wow........using a different part of my brain I found mistake after mistake. It was brilliant. Where as I have no confidence in my writing from a grammar/ spelling point of view - I do have confidence in 'my ear'. I just wish I had this dreaded man years ago...

So from here on awful man will read my story to me and I will trust my instincts with his help. Having said that it took ages to go through the whole book. Some paragraphs took five reworkings until 'my ear' was happy. My fingers and my brain work at very different speeds and sometimes totally independently. What my brain thinks my fingers have typed many times bears no correlation........The ghastly man only reads what is on the page not what i think is on the page.

Having said all that, a day after the script was in the post I was updating my web page with the revised first chapter and found two glaring typos on the first page........lesson - I still need a proof reader!

Have you tried the text to voice software? Does it help you?

25 comments:

Jan Jones said...

Sympathies, Liz, on how much longer it took than expected. In my experience it always does!

However... for your own self-respect, the family has to take on board that writing is what you do.

Perhaps what you could try is having Awful Man read chunks of your work to you as you go along throughout the year. Then colour the text red or something once it has been read-and-corrected so you know you don't have to do it again. Would that help the process?

You'll make it - and well done on getting the submission in with all the other stuff that's going on all around you.

Debs said...

Well done for getting your ms off, and best of luck with it.

I definately need to download the Awful Man as I also tend to see what I think is on the page rather than what actually is, although I don't have dyslexia.

Now you can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the rest of your summer.

JJ Beattie said...

Wow, that's brilliant. I haven't tried it but I've heard Cally extolling its virtues (maybe not the same programme) so I will definitely do it at some stage.

Which software is it that you use?

Fia said...

I think it is a dyslexic thing to leave things to the last minute Liz. It's certainly what I do.

I've been given a government allowance ot buy the dragon software becuase my dyslexia and Irwins Syndrome is quite bad. I'm scared of doing it though. The sat nav is bad enough. Do you trouble with directions, keeping time, organisation etc? They are all symtoms but we are often very creative which is some comfort non?

Glynis said...

I bought a software system many years ago that I thought would help me with my office work. I had a very hard time with it and gave up. I am sure the new versions are much improved.
I am lucky I have only DH to juggle in my life, the football season has arrived, so I am free to write all day!
I enjoyed my visit, Glynis @ http://www.glynissmy.com

Steve Malley said...

Hmmmmm, Awful Man, you say? Sounds... intriguing. I want one. :)


And, before I forget, congratulations on finishing and submitting! Good on ya!

ChrisH said...

It's really hard to proof read your own work. I pick up more mistakes if I read it out loud but that takes forever too. Well done, in the face of all the busy family/RNA stuff to keep going. You deserve to do well with the NWS after the hard work you've put in.

A Rutland Pen said...

My dyslexia friend was very interested to hear of your posting.
She uses a very good program which is both Mac & PC, called Text Help.
It has many voices (so you dont go crazy) , and highlighting and other add ons which are very helpful. She ran through it's merits and I was impressed.
It is over £100, but sounds worth it if one writes and reads what one has written. Hopefully!
I hope this will be useful. B has worked with dyslexia for decades, and knows her stuff.

Helen said...

Hi Liz, lovely to see you back. I use ywriter (well I do when I actually write my novel) which has a talking person on it. Is this what you're using?

Lori x said...

Congratulations on getting it sent off Liz - now it's just that horrid wait!Lol. Good luck x
lori x

Caroline Storer said...

Congrats on getting your ms off to the NWS. Now it's the dreaded waiting game.Take care. Caroline x

liz fenwick said...

Thanks all for the congrats on finishing in time. I am relieved and looking forward to having the feedback that comes with the report.

The software I used was TextAloud - their free dowload but now will look into buying it.

Rutland Pen - will check out Text Help and see what they offer.

Now for a change the sun is shining so may take the kids to the beach :-)

barbara said...

I have stumbled into this dialogue via my dear friend Theo. The software you need is called TextHelp which is infinitely better than Awful Man I am sure. If you want more help email me on barbara.yandell@dyslexia.uk.net

Flowerpot said...

I quite agree with Jan! I've never used the Awful Man but iot sounds a very good idea. Relax now!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I expect it's a great feeling to have the ms away. I guess it's always a good idea to have someone read your work before it's sent.

CJ xx

liz fenwick said...

Barbara - I checked out the TextHelp and it looks to be a superb program but the cost is prohibitive. I would have been tempted when ds1 was younger as it would have truly helped him (but now through GCSEs his need for it will be minimal). I will keep it in mind though:-)

Anita Burgh said...

Liz, lovely to have you back, I missed you dreadfully. Don't worry when you are rich and famous the family will tie you to the desk!!!

Didn't know you were dyslexic, me too. Many writers are, odd isn't it?

cs harris said...

The text to voice software sounds as if it was made for you. Congratulations on finishing.

And seriously: the writing will always be there. The kids grow up and go away all too soon. If I could go back and put my manuscripts aside to steal more days at the beach, more laughs at the park with my little ones, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

sheepish said...

So pleased you finished your ms, you work so hard you certainly deserve some time on the beach and I hope the weather is kind to you and your family. Good luck with the NWS.

liz fenwick said...

Annie, I have a post or even an article up my sleeve about dyslexia and writers - now I need the time!

CS - you are right and for most of the summer I worked before they woke up. I was that last week - unfortunately timed with decenet weather! Next year the sumer will be kept clear for kids and reading :-)

Thanks Sheepish. Really looking forward to the feedback :-)

The text to voice software update - I have actually bought a different one than the free download - Natural Voice. I have 4 different voices and I am really pleased as I can work straight from the document as opposed to cutting and pasting into a frame which I did last time. Bring on SEptember and writing again.

Barrie said...

I have never tried Awful Man. But I'd really like to!

Congrats on meeting your deadline. It is so very tough with a family. My own family doesn't know it yet, but they are in for a rough fall. I have a Dec. 1 deadline and a lot of writing ahead of me. Which means not a lot of cooking, cleaning, homework, etc. ;)

Lesley Cookman said...

Liz, so pleased to see you again, and congratulations. I don't think the deadline thing is necessarily dyslexia, though! I do EVERYTHING at the last minute, which often results in dyslexic typing, however.

Shame about spoilt family week, but yes, when you're A Famous Writer, as Annie says, they'll chain you to the desk.

L x

Rick said...

It's so good to have you gracing the blogosphere again! We missed you. And what a clever solution you created to help with your challenge. Beautiful and clever. Hard to get better than that.

Jan said...

Good luck now Liz with everything. It's very hard balancing all the different parts of your life but I hope you can always make time for your writing..

Judy Jarvie said...

Hi Liz
I've often lurked on your blog because it's fab but just had to come on and say a big THANK YOU. I was really intrigued by your comment about the voice software so ended up trying one out. Then purchasing. Absolutely priceless advice. Especially when you've reached the polished point of 'I can't take reading this anymore! Shoot me'. And huge congrats on a great report from the NWS. Sounds like you are making amazing progress and you are stacking up those books too so bravo!
Judy
Who is very pleased not to polish the book anymore thanks to you.