Thursday, August 31, 2023

Conversations with Bard 3

So I didn't label two and one. Schade. They're the last two posts. 

I ran into an interesting (and really reassuring) snag. I asked Bard a series of questions about the chart composed previously. Its programming has been updated now to make it clear that the chart was an example of how I might structure such a thing. Bard can't do it for me. Unfortunately, this only became clear after trying to let it process the entire rough draft, in its current form, and extract the needed data. After several hours, Bard claimed to be 90% complete, and then someone shut the computer and it lost the progress (it did say it could be saved when complete, but not mid-process). When I tried again, Bard firmly told me it could not do such things. I tried it again just uploading the next chapter, but Bard couldn't process the info that way, either, but it could roughly outline what happened in the second chapter. I'm not sure that's really helpful. You can follow the conversation here: Can Bard create a graph? No.

As said, I found this reassuring. Bard can neither write compelling text nor do all the hard novel planning for me. These are good things for writers.

But I'm serious about writing Bard into the story, and I've started a new forward for it based on the concept. It really solves a lot of the problems I've been having, taking a story started 12 years ago, one which already warps time and space, and trying to root it in the present. Yay muse! Or yay Bard, as you might argue. And yay Shakespeare, too, cause why not? Maybe Bard is like the conduit for my muse, a la Delphic oracle? Whatever. This is fun.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Conversations with Bard

So I've ran into a bit of a problem. As this is recorded as an ongoing conversation with Bard, it just keeps adding to the link. I can't figure out how to just post the most recent conversation. To follow, at least for now, you will have to scroll down to the most recent part. Here't the link: 

Chapter One: In the Rose Garden

I had a stress dream last night. I was a bride's maid in a friends wedding, but I forgot my dress, and at the last minute scrambled to find something acceptable to wear. I didn't like anything I could find, and I kept changing, my panic growing, until I missed the entire wedding. This mirrors a struggle I have in real life. Especially when I was younger, I had acute panic attacks surrounding what to wear. I have learned to handle this better, but the distress is still there when I am unhappy with my clothing. I attribute it to the importance attached to clothing for both my parents, and how they (and I) use clothes to hide troubles. It's a lot like the modern instagram that looks perfect, but you know the person is actually a hot mess. I wear my clothes like armour, to hide how much I'm struggling inside. 

I woke up unable to shake off the dream, but I thought it had potential relevance to A Mixed-up Mashup. So i thought I'd see if Bard could make anything of it. I prompted:

I'm wondering how you would write a scene in the book (working title is A Mixed-up Mashup, by the way). At first, the characters from the Austen novel don't realize they are in the future. My character, hoping to ease their adjustment, tries to dress in regency costume. I’d like a scene where she is alone, getting dress, featuring an internal dialog focused on how she has always used clothes as a shield, presenting a strong and successful image to the world, while struggling with mental illness. 

And this is what Bard produced:

Mrs. Adams stood in front of her closet, staring at the clothes. She had a lot of clothes, but none of them seemed right. She needed something that would help her to blend in with the characters from Jane Austen's novels, but she also needed something that would make her feel confident.

She reached for a long, flowing gown in a pale blue color. It was the perfect Regency costume, but she hesitated. She knew that she would look beautiful in it, but she also knew that it would be a reminder of all the times she had used clothes to hide her true self.

She took a deep breath and put the gown back on the hanger. She reached for a pair of jeans and a t-shirt instead. They were comfortable and casual, but they wouldn't help her to blend in with the other characters.

She sighed and sat down on the bed. She didn't know what to do. She needed to find a way to help the characters from Jane Austen's novels, but she also needed to find a way to be true to herself.

She closed her eyes and thought about her mental illness. She had been struggling with it for years, and she had learned to use clothes as a way to hide her pain. She would wear the most stylish clothes she could find, and she would always put on a brave face. She didn't want anyone to know how she was really feeling.

But now, she knew that she couldn't keep pretending. She needed to be honest with herself and with the characters from Jane Austen's novels. She needed to show them that it was okay to be different, and that it was okay to struggle.

She opened her eyes and stood up. She reached for the blue gown again. She knew that it would be a challenge to wear it, but she was determined to do it. She was determined to be true to herself, no matter what.

She put on the gown and looked at herself in the mirror. She didn't look like herself at all. She looked like a different person, a person who was strong and confident.

She smiled. She knew that she had made the right decision. She was ready to face whatever challenges came her way.

I think anyone worried about AI being able to write a novel should find this reassuring. It's so transparent. Really bad. However, it was an interesting experiment, and I felt calmer for it. I do think I will include a scene dealing with this, but definitely not the one Bard composed. Bard and I might have to have some more back and forth on this.

I then ran into some issues while trying to upload the first chapter of my rough draft for Bard to read. Apparently, you can't copy and paste more than 1000I told it not to worry about grammar and punctuation. Also, when I tried to cut and paste from Word, it showed up as an image, which Bard can't read. So I had to upload my doc into Drive and break the cut and paste into two prompts. From Drive, you can share an entire file with Bard, but I kind of want to walk this through chapter by chapter. Maybe that's a mistake. Maybe I'll change my mind. 

Bard is very encouraging and a bit of a cheerleader. I image that even the worst text would result in accolades. Here's what it said:

I love it! You have introduced the new character, Mr. Tilney, and you have continued to explore the reactions of the different characters to the strange events. You have also hinted at the cause of the phenomenon, which is very intriguing. I can't wait to read more!

I am also curious to see how the characters will interact with each other. Will they be able to work together to solve the mystery? Or will their differences of opinion divide them? I am excited to see what happens next!

Great job!

Not exactly helpful feedback. I then asked Bard to help me keep track of where the characters are, as this starts to get very complicated. It created this tidy little chart:

I'm curious to see how it adapts this as things get crazier (another reason to maybe just upload the entire doc). Also, this is where the characters came from, which isn't exactly what I asked. Still, it's kind of cute. Maybe even helpful. I'lll keep going

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Return to normalcy?

I will never forget how much my AP history teacher mocked President Harding for coining the term "normalcy," but it is a term I find very useful in recent years. Through overseas moves, babies, and a pandemic, I've had multiple moments when I've sighed a breath of relief and thought that now, finally, we were returning to normalcy. Yet each time, some new upheaval comes along to derail that progress. The most recent was quite possibly the most traumatising, when my youngest was hit by a car while riding his scooter last May. We were unbelievably lucky he only broke and dislocated his hip, having been dragged beneath the car for 10 meter before the driver stopped. I still quaver at the notion of what this would have meant had he not been wearing a helmet (which was completely crushed on one side). Yesterday he returned to school, happy, smiling, and walking. I breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude that maybe, finally, we are returning to normalcy.

But the truth is, I'm not even sure what normal looks like anymore. I don't think it will ever be as it was when I first started fixating on the notion. On top of that, I'm totally on edge, waiting for the next disaster to strike. Shootings and murders in my home country continue to circle closer and closer to home. No longer do these events just happen in towns and areas that I know, but also to people associated with my friends and family. How long until one of those loved ones is in the wrong place at the wrong time? There have already been too many close calls. Too much trauma. 

OK brain! Reel it in! Right here, right now, I have something like a once normal morning on my hands. I am alone in my apartment. My computer is before me, and for the first time in months, I actually feel compelled to be writing. Honestly, a few months ago (pre-accident), I was ready to abandon this entire part of my life. It's so hard trying to find any consistent writing time, so why do I keep torturing myself like this? Why does any writer? Why not? So here I am.

And I have an idea, one totally removed from anything I could ever even begin to rationalize as normal. Late last year, as generative AI became a reality, I think I went into a bit of a state of mourning, lamenting what this meant for my industry. I never really feared AI - it's part of my husband's career - but how this might impact writers and editors of Austenesque, particularly, was demoralizing. Already, the market is flooded. It seems almost every new reader is a perspective writer. The only thing holding many back is that writing a book is actually a pretty hard thing to do. What if it's easy? Do I still have anything novel to offer my readers?

Therefore I am conducting an experiment. I have a story I have been working on for years, but I've written myself into a hole. Could AI help me out? Could I maybe, more than a decade after beginning, finally finish A Mixed-Up Mashup? Let's find out. You can click on the link to read all about:

My Conversation with Bard


I went with Bard because I feel much better about Google than Microsoft, and I think I'm going to keep on playing with this, sharing the experience here. My first impression is that Bard might be able to write a book, but I'm not sure it would be one anyone would actually enjoy reading. I had been posting this story on A Happy Assembly. If I make progress, I'll continue it there.

A blog post! Once upon a time, this was what normalcy looked like.