I installed some speech-recognition software on my home computer that is supposed to turn spoken words into text. It almost does that. The word graduate comes out “gradually” and the word first comes out “fist,” depending on how Massachusetts-sounding I am that day
I installed some speech-recognition software on my home computer that is supposed to turn spoken words into text. It almost does that. The word graduate comes out “gradually,” and the word first comes out “fist,” depending on how Massachusetts-sounding I am that day.
I admit freely and without fear or favor that when the software works, it works beautifully and speeds the whole writing process. When it doesn’t work, I find myself cursing. I forget that I am still connected via the microphone and my curse words are typed perfectly on screen. (Why is that? I presume it is because curses are usually four-letter words.)
By the way, I am writing this column by hand just as scriveners did in the quill-pen days. I am writing in cursive and crafting the letter s to look like s and not like some colonial f.
There is something very satisfying about writing by hand. If the ink flows easily and the mind is focused, the experience is not only fun but also personal. I feel as if my writing is dedicated to one person who knows me well and can catch my connotative contours – and poke puns at my ardent alliteration. (I laughed when I wrote poked puns. That is truly a painful double entendre.)
Another advantage of hand writing is that it is quiet, uses no electricity and only kills a few trees. Of course, I will have to “keyboard” this text eventually because the guys running the presses only accept the digitized word. No more Gutenberg moveable blocks of type. No more type cast in lead that you can only read with a mirror before it is inked.
I have not yet been able to create a humor column by talking. I guess I would go straight to stand up if I could. “Take my keyboard, please,” would be my opening joke stolen from Henny Youngman and modified for the Information Age. No, I must remain a writing kind of guy. An agent I worked with used to call my genre, “the humorous essay.” I like the gravitas that bestows on me.
“Turn that TV down, I am writing a humorous essay,” I could scream at my family.
But with my luck, the mic would pick up my outburst and type it on the screen.
Wait a minute; what’s an SA?
Peter Costa is a senior editor with GateHouse Media New England and is the author of two books of humor. His latest, “Outrageous CostaLiving: Still Laughing Through Life,” is available at amazon.com