The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Friday, 13 June 2008

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.

Well here it is Friday the 13th and so far I've tripped over a black cat while walking under a stepladder in my living room with an open umbrella. I figure with the big Canadian lottery, Lotto 649, sitting at an interesting $22 million, I should really get all my bad luck of the way early.

Not that I have a lot of bad luck. I am in relatively good health - Considering some of my earlier lifestyle choices that in itself is a stroke of luck. I am married to a wonderful, beautiful, talented, intelligent and very patient wife-we should all be that lucky. And, with Father's Day coming up on Sunday, I am especially lucky that I have two precious children, who bring delight and meaning into my life.

As a bit of an early Father's Day present, I decided to push the voice recognition software envelope and purchase, what is considered the best in the field. Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking, according to most of the reviews, is the pinnacle of voice recognition software. If you visit their website they have some fairly outlandish claims, and they are exactly that - outlandish. They claim that the software is ready to use out-of-the-box - that there is no training required - that no dictation need be done for the program to learn your voice. This is not true. I tried talking to the computer immediately following installation of the software. The resulting gibberish was disheartening. The voice recognition software which comes with Windows Vista was a pain in the ass, but at least it understood approximately 85% of what I was saying. The NaturallySpeaking program seemed to lack the logic and the ability to note context that Microsoft had built into the Vista version. After spending a great deal of time reading some very entertaining bits of literature into the microphone, the NaturallySpeaking program started to get it. It began to understand the nuances of my speech, and my own particular accent. I have been dictating this blog entry with only a few instances where I've needed to correct the computer. There is also an auto punctuation feature that has yet to prove its usefulness to me – it wants to throw commas absolutely everywhere. I guess some things will always need to be done by hand. It remains to be seen if the change in software will be beneficial but I’m feeling lucky…

In the writing world, not so lucky-not just yet. So far no nibbles yet on the several short stories that are out in the world. There is also no word yet from DAW books, but that is hardly surprising considering the manuscript would have only just arrived last week. So far no positive feedback from agents yet, either. Again, that's hardly a surprise as most my queries are only a week old.

I am also beginning to realise that my Story a Week ambition was a little too... well, ambitious. I'm not complaining though. I still think it's a great target. Right now, however, the Mitchell's Crossing story about the witch has taken on a life of its own. It's very liberating for a writer when something like this happens. It's amazing to see characters that you thought were windowdressing suddenly contributing to the dialogue and action of a story. It's great when minor characters become pivotal to the progression of the plot. It's an interesting feeling when the story starts to tell itself. Waiters will understand what I'm talking about-it's something that I like to call, The Waiter's High. It is state of being that occurs when everything goes just right - when you can't make a mistake - it's just impossible for you to do something wrong. Most waiters, if they are any good at all, will, on at least one busy night in their lives, find such a state of near perfection. Your timing is flawless and everything is remembered in exactly the right order. At the end of the night the waiter finds himself physically exhausted but his mind is quicksilver until late in the night. As a sidebar - it is surprisingly easy to get laid in the wake of one of these Waiter's Highs. It's almost as if the universe is conspiring with you, instead of against you. In psychological terms, this is known as Flow. I understand that this state of total immersion occurs across a variety of fields and disciplines, athletic, academic and professional, but I can only speak to the two places were I've found it-waiting and writing.

The witch story is much more detailed than I had originally planned, and at this point, I have no idea how long the story will be, but my best guess is somewhere around 10,000 words. I suppose if I get the story done this week, then it would be the equivalent of three short stories... so I'm kinda on track with the whole Story a Week thing… kinda.

That's all for now, so until next time... be good to your fathers. After all, they only get the one day a year. Good luck.