Thursday, August 9, 2012

Writing with one hand tied behind my back!

Or, more accurately, writing with one hand in a sling.  It's been an interesting experience to have my left arm in a sling after shoulder repair.  The surgery itself was no big deal...no serious pain after, no complications.  Just the dang sling.  Ican use my fingers and can even type for a while with both hands.  But that gets tiring with my arm stuck to my side.  So I'm mostly writing with one hand.

This is a metaphor for a bunch of handicaps that writers deal with everyday.  For example, I also have a full-time day job.  Those hours spent there, and the long commute to get there, put a serious crimp in my writing plans.  But it's something with which I've learned to cope, because I have always had this day job.  I've also had back injuries.  When that happened, and during recovery, I learned to write while lying flat using a special laptop desk that allowed for that.  Now the shoulder (yes, degenerative bone problems are no fun!).  But my own stories are nothing compared to others!  I know people who write while struggling with the most difficult ailments and situations.  People who write while raising children, while traveling for their jobs, while waiting for the next round of chemo, while coping with insomnia, while going through dialysis.

It is amazing to me that we humans are so adaptable!  When we have passion about something, we will find a way to pursue that passion.  Almost nothing can stop us.  And this must be doubly true for writers.  If we let any adversity get in our way, success is doomed.

I would love to hear your stories of writing with one hand tied behind your back, metaphorically speaking.  What have you had to overcome to still keep on writing?

8 comments:

Rebecca York said...

Well, my comments can be literal. I fell down a flight of steps, dislocated my shoulder, and broke my arm. I was in a sling for three weeks, and I had revisions to do. I worked out a one handed typing system where I could move the injured hand up far enough to press the space bar--and use the other hand to hit all the other kesy. And before that part of the experience, I had to get recipes ready for a tester. Dh sat beside me typing them out--because the &^%$ doctor didn't see that my arm was dislocated. So I sat around for two days in horrible pain every time I moved a quarter of an inch. I am just back from RWA and extended my time in California--where I managed to write 30 pages in hotel rooms. I don't know. I just keep going because the work has to get done.

Rebecca York said...

I see I had some typos in my post. That's keys, not keyes. And as i said at first, the shoulder was dislocated, not the arm!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth-

When I first started writing, I was also working full time (as a librarian) and at night, was helping my mother take care of my father, who had suffered a massive stroke. Fortunately, I’m a night owl, so I could cope with the lateness of the hours. But I spent a great deal ofmy time with a legal pad, scribbling away, then transcribing. My father’s healthcare worker was one of my first readers, as were my colleagues at the library. I used to type with 7 carbons, in order to have enough copies to hand around. Writing at the library was the most fun, because it was there that I had accecss to an electric typewriter. How I did love the feel of that IBM Selectric II under my fingertips. Those stories just seemed to pour out, despite the angst at home.

My worst “one hand tied behind my back” occurred when I had a deteriorating disc at C5 (neck) and wasn’t allowed to type for a month. I wasn’t even allowed to look down at anything, be it a computer keyboard or even a book. I used to read with a book rubber-banded to a typing stand. Writing was a bit more difficult...

Binnie Syril Braunstein

Kathryn said...

I agree absolutely. Writing beyond pain, depression, interruptions--it's essential to a writer's career. I alernate chairs to keep working when my back starts hurting. When they're drilling on my street or kids are outside screaming, I use Bose earphones. You can use all sorts of tricks to get the job done.

Toby Devens said...

Writers write...just about no matter what. When my daughter was an infant, I wrote parts of my first book on a typewriter (remember those?) I'd placed atop the washing machine where I spent a lot of time. The book "Mercy, Lord My Husband's in the Kitchen" was a collection of poem/prayers, so I'd write a line or two during the wash cycle, dash back to write another during spin..and before I knew it, my laundry was ready for the dryer and I had a complete poem. Heck, war correspondents write under fire--writing is not for sissies!

Martin Bodenham said...

I have always envied those writers who can dictate a novel. Saves so much typing!

Rebecca York said...

Like Kathryn, I alternate chairs and locations. I also get up and walk around every half hour of so. You don't have to be writing poetry,Toby to write a little and do house work or pull weeds. I'm going back to the lamb chops in the broiler now.

nancy baggett said...

The writing with one hand tied behind my back reminds me of several article assignments I've had: Several editors have asked me to cover multiple topics "thoroughly," then said to do it in "500 words," an impossibility even when writing tight! I've also had food editors ask for recipes with a "max of 5 ingredients; doable in 15 minutes; healthful; and delicious." Hah--that's figuratively trying to cook with one hand tied behind the back!

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