Keep Me Hangin’ On: Maintaining a Grip

Well, here I am again. I’m working hard to keep my updates as regular as possible, even though I’m in the middle of a very busy season at work right now. After some consideration, I realized that the answer was to try to find the tools necessary to transform these rantings of mine into text.

The problem is that, at the moment, I’m at the mercy of two schedules. Well, actually, three. One schedule is my work schedule, in which things have gotten very hectic. I have little control over this one, obviously. The second schedule is my writing schedule, in which I’m struggling to fit the time into my life. The third schedule is my schedule as an Amazon seller. I’ve stopped this for a little while, until I can squeeze some more time out of the stone.

I know I talked about it a little some last week, but this week has really reinforced to me just how much writing has to be a passion for you. I don’t see how anyone who is only mildly interested in writing would go to the lengths that I’ve gone to over the last few weeks. It’s been a never-ending trial of frustration. So yesterday I did some research to see if there was something that I had been missing about how to compress a schedule or make more time. I was surprised to find, instead, that most said you had to step back, assess the situation, and go with the flow.

I realize I’ve been engaging in some distorted thinking, to think that I could somehow squeeze more time out of a day. Or more energy out of my body. No amount of eating better will allow me to get much more out of my body, though I am trying. Instead, I need to step back and try to get perspective on the situation. While it may suck and I may be overwhelmed, in the grand scheme of my life the problem is likely passing – transitory – so I kept repeating to myself last night that it’s only for a few more days. Not even a week.

I couldn’t really see if thinking like that made much of a difference, but at least I tried, right?What really helped me was searching for a dictation transcription service. I do most of my writing while I’m on the road, with a recorder of some sort, so it made the most sense to dictate and find a way to automatically transcribe that text.

I found a few different solutions, including ones for the iPad, but none were quite as satisfactory as a website that would allow me to upload the raw audio files from my recorder. From there, real people listen to the file and type up what you’ve recorded. The problem is that at 1.25 cents for each word, it gets pricey very quickly. For instance, yesterday’s blog entry cost me about 14.45. Obviously that’s not a feasible long-term solution – think about how much a 70,000 word novel would cost. So I’m looking into alternate solutions.

The real problem is that I have time to write in the evening, but I don’t want to spend that time transcribing. I want to spend that time working with what I’ve already dictated. The idea of coming from home from a meeting and transcribing what I’ve dictated just drives me insane.

If you writers know any other tools that I could be using, please let me know. Dragon is not a very good option for me because obviously I’m in the car and it seems to be limited to sitting down in front of the computer. Oh and their iPad app is horrific, so no-go there. I found the technology to get me halfway there, and if I have to rely on the more expensive solution in a pinch, well, that’s what I’ll have to do.

I’m currently reading the Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell and discovering that there are a few small tricks that can help to transform a story from something that’s somewhat passing to something that’s a lot more interesting to something enduring. One of the biggest lessons has been about recognizing the difference between internal conflict and internal struggle:

An inner struggle is something the Lead brings with her into the story. It’s there before the narrative begins. It’s the struggle that is holding her back in life itself, not just in the plot.

The inner conflict is a product of the plot. It is the “argument” the character is having inside over pursuit of the objective.

I like those definitions a lot and I realized that I kind of use this intuitively without really understanding the difference between the two. They are really the crux of the difference between character-driven and plot-driven stories. Bell suggest that a plot-driven writer use a little more of the internal struggle to drive their story along, and vice-versa for the character driven writer. He goes on to talk about how the theme of redemption is a very loaded, powerful topic that a writer can use to his or her advantage to really take the step from something that’s not worthy to something that might be lasting.

It really makes me wonder about how I might do a similar thing. I’m not sure that there’s room for redemption in Entanglements, but the second book of the Corridors series could well have some room for it, especially with some characters that may have been less-than-good in the first book. It’s an idea to ponder, as the book has a very nebulous plot in my head.

But I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that when I have a little more time. For now, this will have to do. I’m hoping to get back to some deeper subjects next week. In the meantime at least I do have something to say.

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