Transcripts

 

Writing in Spite of It All! 9/11/03



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Hello, all!

 

Welcome to our Professional Connection Live Interview.

 

Our guest tonight is Page Fuller, a woman who has overcome a host of obstacles to keep writing. If you have a hard time writing, if Life gets in your way, this is the person to talk to!

Page Fuller

Hello Mary, and everyone.

Mary Rosenblum

I have known Page a long time, and I continue to be impressed with her ability to overcome obstacles and write.

 

Welcome, Page! We're delighted to visit with you!

Page Fuller

Thank you.

Mary Rosenblum

So let's start at the beginning, here. When did you actually begin writing?

Page Fuller

I started writing about ten years ago at the age of 43.

Mary Rosenblum

Well, right there, that's great encouragement for those students of mine who worry that they are 'too old' to start writing!

Page Fuller

Yes, you are never too young to start.

Mary Rosenblum

That was after you had the accident that caused you problems, right?

Page Fuller

Yes, my actual disability started after an auto

 

accident 16 years ago. Three surgeries later

 

it was clearly not going to get better.

 

Since we are talking about disabilities

 

and that word disability covers a wide range of conditions,

 

let me spell out mine as my answers mostly go to my problems.

 

Because of scar tissue forming concrete around my sciatic nerves, it is painful

 

each time I move as it scrapes and cuts the nerves.

 

Therefore, I learned to move as little

 

as possible. Then about six years ago I broke my wrist

 

and now a plate and three screws later it limits

 

the amount of time I can type. Then when I lost the vision in

 

my right eye last spring and was diagnosed with MS,

 

I decided it was time to learn to use voice actuated software to write. It's

 

all an adventure in technology!

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding. But Page, any ONE of these circumstance could have sent you to bed for an eternity of medication and self pity and certainly

 

writers block! The chronic pain problem alone is pretty daunting...I spent about three years there myself with back trouble. So how

 

have you managed to get past that temptation to just QUIT?

Page Fuller

In my case, I already had to quit my previous life

 

as I was an athlete when injured. I was working on the pipeline

 

in Alaska to make a stake to become a golf pro.

 

When that ended and I discovered that I can write lying down…

 

it was a great relief to find something else to define my life.

 

No chance of quitting.

Mary Rosenblum

That's a great attitude!

 

How do you actually go about writing, since sitting up for long periods of time isn't in the picture?

Page Fuller

I have a wonderfully supportive husband who created a command central for me.

 

I have an electric bed, so I can change positions as often as necessary

 

because you are correct, I can't sit up for long.

 

periods of time. My computer, is at my side

 

with a swing out monitor and now thanks to technology

 

I have a wireless, keyboard and mouse, so I

 

don't have to deal with cords, every time I change position.

bingocliff

How much schooling did you do to get where you are?

Page Fuller

If you mean writing schooling, just college freshman English

 

but I also attend conferences and writer's group to gain info.

sailor

Is editing your work with voice activated software time a slow process, or do you use it to create the first draft and manually edit from there on?

Page Fuller

Hi sailor, great question. I have been using

 

Dragon Speak for two months now and I do just what

 

you said. I create without looking at the screen, then edit

 

with the keyboard. Dragon Speak Pro also records as you

 

use it so if something doesn't make sense

 

I just hit transcribe, it plays it back over my

 

headphones and I can fix it.

paja

With Dragon, do you find it is fairly accurate?

Page Fuller

Paja, yes, I had about 90 percent accuracy

 

on the first attempt, I am now about 95. But

 

that last 5 percent is really important and

 

it is just like learning any new activity, you

 

have to put in the time and training. The software

 

'assures' me I will get faster speaking than

 

I can ever type.

Mary Rosenblum

If that happens, _I'm_ buying Dragon! We're going to have a race, remember!

Page Fuller

Yes, forget the railroad, this will be an important race.

janp

Welcome, Page. Have you ever been tempted to release sloppy work to an editor by saying, "hey, I'm disabled--have pity on me? I'll bet you have NOT

Mary Rosenblum

Ha. I'm laughing.

Page Fuller

Janp, I am laughing, no, this is one of the few

 

ways I can maintain my independence, I can edit!

paja

I've had trouble with my Dragon because my inflections change with my characters. That has not been a problem for you?

Page Fuller

Paja, yes, that can be a problem at first, but you

 

just need to continue with the correction training

 

and you will be surprised at how it learns.

 

I also found it very useful to run the program that reads a lot of

 

your previously written documents and thus

 

picks up your style and names and such.

 

I found it greatly improved my accuracy. Try it.

paulplqn

Dragon is also recommended for language disabled students who have difficulty translating their thoughts into written form.

Page Fuller

Paulpiqn, yes, that is how I came into the arena

 

of voice software. My nephew has severe dyslexia

 

and this allows him to write his college papers and

 

read stuff back to himself for corrections.

paja

Thanks. You've been a big encouragement for me with Dragon.

paulplqn

How close is your spoken work to the final edited written work? Or, do you find you have to edit your work a great deal?

Page Fuller

Paulpiqn, a tough question. I am still having to edit quite

 

a bit because of punctuation. When I get

 

on a roll, I still tend to forget to say 'period, question mark, new sentence".

 

I'm sure with time I will get better. (positive thinking)

paja

How do you separate your thoughts away from pain etc. and onto writing?

Page Fuller

Paja, pain is the hard part. In my case, it varies

 

greatly day to day, so if I am in a great

 

deal of pain, I take care of the pain,

 

then return to my writing. I will confess

 

however that I can tend to wipe out half the population

 

of a planet, when I'm hurting. <smile>

 

To add one more thought

 

to that question,

 

I don't beat myself up if I can't write when the pain is bad.

 

I know I'll get back to it later.

red2

Thank you for sharing your story with us tonight. You have inspired me to "de-wimp" myself. I've been down about having to go back to work and being tired and not feeling much like writing. I know I need to rethink my writing routine. Can you give me any pointers on getting started again?

Page Fuller

Red2; and there you have it --

 

writing is writing, whether disabled, tired, have children to feed, etc,

 

we all get stopped by life occasionally and

 

must learn how to restart.

 

I have found that what works for me is this --

 

being a techy person I have a spread sheet and I keep a log of

 

words written each day. I keep a goal of at least

 

writing one sentence before I go to bed, even if

 

that sentence is just. "Ouch." said Tommy.

 

Also, it I have been away from any production for a while and can't

 

get my fiction going, I am writing my autobiogrphy.

 

It is never hard to write about your life, it is just like

 

'taking dictation. It gets you back to putting words on paper,

 

then eventually back to your fiction. Not that

 

I plan on publishing it, it's just a writers' technique. You

 

can also try a daily journal, or funny stuff you heard at work

 

or jot ideas for future writing. Experiment, something will work.

paulplqn

Page, you are an inspiration. To writers and the world in general.

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding!

 

And the idea of the autobiography is great...it says right there "I matter' even if you never publish it!

Page Fuller

Paulpiqn, Thank you, you are very kind. Trust me, I'm just like everyone else

 

trying to get published. We have our ups and downs.

janp

What topics or genres do you prefer?

Page Fuller

Janp, I am head over heels in love with science fiction

 

but I also write mysteries, both adult and YA.

senicynt

Hi, My understanding about voice activated software is that there is a learning curve where the software needs to learn how to understand the users enunciation, elisions and regional pronunciations. How does it handle homonyms and common misuses? there-their-they're, than-then, to-too-two?

Page Fuller

Senicynt, yes back to details. It is important to know

 

that there is a learning curve and it will learn, even with a lisp

 

or strange pronunciations. The program lets you adjust these

 

by spelling them out and training it. for to,too, two, you just say' spell it' and the program

 

lets you spell. For awkward things like your email

 

address, you can create a word like amail and it will print you long

 

address when it hears that word or phrase. Very helpful

 

for words you have difficulty with.

paja

Do you feel a need to relax from writing or is writing your relaxation?

Page Fuller

Paja, YES.

 

This is one of the good sides

 

of being disabled, you have the time

 

to spend both writing and resting from writing as needed.

 

You know writing is work, not magic and

 

sometimes it is fun and other times, whew!

 

Will it ever get finished?

Mary Rosenblum

Gee, that sounds AWFULLY familiar!!!!

Page Fuller

And there you have it... we are all bozo's on this bus.

 

Gee, I've always wanted to say that.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm laughing. Me, too. Score for you!

paulplqn

I tell my kids to do what they like and everything else will take care of itself. My problem is liking a few too many things that take up lots of my time. I end up writing, then not then back.

Page Fuller

Paulpiqn, you and me both. Budgeting time is the bane of all

 

writers, ask 'em, they'll tell you how

 

exciting and necessary washing the dishes

 

can become it you don't feel like writing.

 

Just don't beat yourself up over it. Sometimes we are our

 

own worst critic... Just go back to the writing when you are done.

 

For kids, you might try a contract. " I will write for an hour for every hour I play

 

nintendo. It works for me. I love Zelda!!!

Mary Rosenblum

Vacuuming...I MUST vacuum even

 

though I SHOULD be working on that stuck plot point! I NEED to vacuum.

 

I'm laughing, but it's true. And I will work on that plot later tonight....after I vacuum.

Page Fuller

Can you come over to my house?

Mary Rosenblum

If you'll fix my plot!

Page Fuller

There's always a catch.

paja

I'm trying to deal with a lot of stress right now. How do you de-stress?

Page Fuller

Paja, stress is another big issue. Here is how I

 

handle mine. I meditate, have been for thirty years. Just recently

 

I started learning Chi Gong, which is sort of like

 

Tai Chi lite. It helps energize and heal and can be done

 

by anyone, lying down sitting up doesn't matter.

 

If that doesn't work and I simply must shut

 

down my brain, there is TV. Alpha waves are wonderfully

 

relaxing for me. <smile> I'm not kidding.

Mary Rosenblum

Well, there's ONE good use for TV!

Page Fuller

I learned early on

 

with my disability, that even reading keeps the brain engaged and I would

 

think of all the things I could no

 

longer do, but that TV shut me off for a period and relaxed me

 

to get me past that point, without having to

 

resort to drugs to stop the pain.

paja

Thanks, Page. I'm heading in the right direction then. I'm learning yoga.

Page Fuller

Paja, perfect, and you'll be amazed at how it helps writing energy

 

and creativity

 

when the mind is relaxed.

info

Page, do you or have you ever thought that you could be

 

inspiring to people with writing problems or your disability?

Mary Rosenblum

As in your autobiography, perhaps?

Page Fuller

No, I really don't think of myself

 

as inspiring, after this maybe I will be encouraged

 

to do so. This MS thing can be quite a challenge that

 

could be addressed. I know that I am

 

encouraged when I hear others talk about

 

how they handle their life. Thanks for kind thought.

Mary Rosenblum

Page, we will talk! Definitely!

senicynt

You stated that SciFi is your fav. What type of SciFi do you write? High-tech,- Psycho-social, human interest, near/far future?

Page Fuller

senicynt; again the answer is yes. That's the great thing

 

about SF, you can experiment with all of it. I don't

 

have a strong science background, but love

 

all things techie. My strong point is characterization more

 

than science plotting. As a kid, I thought I would

 

never be able to write SF since I was terrible in math!!.. But

 

then Harlan Ellison came out with all his psychologically

 

driven fiction and I felt saved. Hey, I can do that!

Mary Rosenblum

Bless Harlan Ellison.

red2

You mentioned earlier that you love science fiction writing. Do you think living with physical limitations has given you a keener sense in writing for this genre?

Page Fuller

red2, I'm not sure since all writing comes from our

 

imagination. I do admit that dreaming about a future

 

where my disease will have a simple fix is something

 

I do. When my back injury first happened

 

I used to dream of living in a weightless environment

 

where gravity wouldn't be a painful affliction.

paulplqn

My interest came from watching the space race unfold throughout my childhood and into my adult life.

Page Fuller

paulplqn, yes, we have lived in interesting times. I used to love to time

 

travel with my grandmother as she told of moving from

 

horses to cars, etc. I used to wonder what my generations

 

electric light bulb would be. Then about ten years ago, I went online

 

for the first time to a chat and realized, This was it, this

 

was going to change our universe. Love Science.

Mary Rosenblum

Ditto, ditto!

janp

Back to writing for a second. Do you have a favorite topic or character you have created?

Page Fuller

janp, smiling, that pretty much is the character in the story or book I am writing at the time.

 

Oh and also the girl in the SF space opera, that has been mulling

 

around my brain since I started writing ten years ago.

 

Hope she'll get out someday, onto the paper.

Mary Rosenblum

Hey, space opera with female POV is a fertile field! Catherine Asaro is doing quite well with it!

Page Fuller

Yes, that is why

 

I really like that SF finally admitted women existed about twenty

 

years ago.

Mary Rosenblum

That's why I had to start writing it. I couldn't find any female POV characters I liked!

Page Fuller

I wanted

 

to grow up and be a female

 

oh darn, forgot the author’s name... Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Mary Rosenblum

Bradbury!

Page Fuller

Oh yeah, Ray, love that midwest SF.

Mary Rosenblum

Me, too. Same ambition, Page.

 

I think his reputation is still safe from me, but I try!

paulplqn

I teach full time & love it. I tutor part time & love it. Writing comes in "fits and starts."

 

When it comes, it's great, but it's hard to finish out a story this way.

Page Fuller

paulplqn, I have the same problems, and that is why I also rely on

 

other writers to brain storm with. I used to be in a writer's group

 

and that provided a lot of help. When I was finished with that

 

stage, I still keep in touch in with one writer on a weekly

 

basis so provide the support and understanding

 

during the hard parts. Just like all off you do with this chat group.

 

Now to the authors I like:

 

I read every type of fiction.

 

My favorites include Connie Willis, Pat Cadigan, Harlan Ellison.

 

Hmmmm, this shows my fondness of short fiction.

 

Novels, well, I like mysteries and biographies

 

as well as SF, I have a subscription to Asimovs SF magazine

 

and as I attend SF Conventions, I will read anything that an author I have

 

just met, writes, if I liked them. <smile> And, if you haven't read

 

Mary's books and stories, you should. They are excellent and show

 

wonderful characters.

Mary Rosenblum

Blush!

kplano

Page, who are your heroes? Mine are my pioneer ancestors. Whenever I think my life is difficult, I think of them and decide I don't have it so bad after all. Do you have heroes like that in your life you look to for inspiration to persevere?

Page Fuller

kplano. You bet, I was named after my pioneer grandmother, Elsie Page

 

and closer to home, my own Dad, who became severely hanicapped

 

at the age of 70 and kept a good sense of humor the last six years of

 

his life. He needed help with everything but

 

he never went to bed without saying "Thank you for your help. I love you."

 

Wonderful man. I think everyone has people

 

like that in their lives, if they look.

 

Everyone has troubles. everyone has problems. It is the

 

one thing we all share and maybe by being writers

 

we can share these experiences with others.

paja

So, you've had lots of training for the position you're filling. I hope you've included their stories in your bio.

Page Fuller

paja, it wouldn't be complete without them. Everyone has a story.

 

The difference is that as writers we have taking

 

the hard next step. Taking the words out of our brains

 

and putting them on paper, one word at a time,

 

however we do that, voice , keyboard, tape recorder

 

it all takes self confidence.

Mary Rosenblum

Wow, Page. You have put that very powerfully! I really hope you do publish your autobiography. I will commence to nag you. :-)

Page Fuller

Oh, dear!

Mary Rosenblum

Page, this has been wonderful.

 

And I think it's time to give you a break.

 

since we're been peppering you with questions pretty steadily!

 

I think we're all a little awed at this point...well...I already knew you!

 

But I'm still awed!

Page Fuller

I wouldn't mind a drink of water. Talk among yourselves for a moment.

 

I'll be 'write' back.

Mary Rosenblum

Okay!

 

Info, you had a question about short fiction.

info

I have difficulty at times knowing what is classified as short fiction, or how long it is. Can you define it for me?

Mary Rosenblum

I''ll answer that while Page is getting a drink.

 

Short fiction is anything shorter than 40,000 words.

 

The breakdown is under 8000 words is a short story,

 

8000 to 18000 is a novelette,

 

and 18000 to 40,000 is a novella.

 

Anything longer is a novel.

Page Fuller

And I am back. I would like to address one important disability problem

 

before we run out of time...Since most of us are healthy, independent

 

adult Americans, with all that entails, when a disability takes that

 

independence away, we tend to withdraw rather than seek help.

 

I know, I went through that stage. I also always felt a great deal of.

 

sympathy for men who became disabled because at least

 

as a women our culture says it is okay to ask for help. Doesn't make

 

it easier to do just that it's okay. What finally got me over this was when

 

I remembered how good I always felt when I am able to help someone.

 

So now I ask for and let people help me knowing that I am still really

 

helping them by letting them feel good for helping me. If any of you

 

out there become disabled out of the blue, remember.

Mary Rosenblum

You know, Page, I have learned a lot from knowing you, and I have to say that I am

 

much less afraid of the sorts of disabling things that could happen to me because clearly, I can find ways to deal with them. Thank you for that! And what you say

 

about people liking to help...that's very true. We forget it!

Page Fuller

Now I will blush.

paja

Everyone is a leader to someone. Those lead best who have walked the deeper valleys first. They know where the rocks and pot-holes are. Do be encouraged to allow yourself to inspire others. You're good at it.

Page Fuller

paja, Thank you, this whole chat has been very heart warming for me, as well.

Mary Rosenblum

Page, I hope you’ll come back here again. I think we could go on for another hour or so and totally wear you out.

 

This really HAS been a very powerful two hours. Thank you so much for coming!

Page Fuller

This has quite energized me, i would like to come back and hear that many of the people

 

here chatting have been enjoying their writing and published or not,

 

will continue to write.

Mary Rosenblum

Amen! Because it's the writing that matters, NOT the publishing!

janp

Page, You're the one doing the helping tonight. Thank you so very much.

Page Fuller

Yes, when I mentioned autobiographies, go read some that writers like

 

Steven King has written and you'll see, we all have problems, so lets

 

write about 'em!

paulplqn

I can feel the "writing bug" nibbling in the back of my brain! I hope the bug can type!

Page Fuller

paulplqn, yes, yes, that's why we writer's hang out together, to get that bug

 

going and it does take energy to keep it going. That's why

 

I love going to SF conventions, I always come home reved up after

 

hanging with writers!

owlybear

Page.... I had a kidney transplant 3 1/2 yrs ago...it is working great...it changed my thinking about life, but when ever I go for a checkup I always go to the Renal unit to visit the nurses, because I know some of the patients will hear us talking and the hope that appears on their faces is astounding to me...I will always go visit there....to give them hope....Oh ...and I do talk with some of them, but there are usually about 40 on dialysis at one time...I plan to write a book about my ordeal to help people get through dialysis treatments and give them hope for a transplant....

Mary Rosenblum

Good for you, Owly!

Page Fuller

owlybear, oh, that is great and it really does help. I am sure that when you

 

went through it you read everything you could and it helped.

 

Let's do the same for others.

Mary Rosenblum

Page, I'm going to let you go, or we'll keep you here all night!

 

This has been great! Thank you SO much for coming, and I'd love to have you back...

 

You've been great!

paulplqn

Thank you, Page. Be well.

Mary Rosenblum

We all thank you!

red2

Thank you! We're all inspired!

senicynt

Thanks Paige! Come again! We'll discuss SciFi plotting... LOL

Page Fuller

Thank you, everyone, I would enjoy it and it is true, my wrist is wearing out.

Mary Rosenblum

I bet. I get tired, and I'm mostly just watching!

cloux

Thanks , Page you are an inspiration!

info

Thank you, Page and keep writing

Page Fuller

SF lives, Good night all. Thanks.... yours in writing, Page.

Mary Rosenblum

We all thank you! Good night, Page, and I'll talk to you soon!

janp

Go while you can or Mary will have you on one of her famous Oregon hours :-)

Mary Rosenblum

Which will be THREE hours I suppose! Thank you all for coming!

 

Bye all!

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