Friday, September 03, 2010

Fantastic Fingers

Can you imagine insuring your fingers for a million bucks EACH? Guitarist Jeff Beck did, according to an article on Time's website. He'd cut off the tip of his finger as he chopped carrots, and after the digit's tip was re-attached with no problems, he reportedly decided he needed to insure against more carrot-catastrophes.

As a writer, one of my biggest fears has always been that something will happen to my hands. I type, therefore I am, right?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Why couldn't she just dictate her stories?"


That evil laugh wasn't me, by the way. That was The Husband, who claims that I cannot tell a story, a joke or even recount my day.

It's true. I am the world's worst oral story teller. I get all long-winded, with a whole bunch of hems and haws and going backwards and forwards just to make sure you have the complete picture. I use a lot of analogies, and that in particular drives The Husband bonkers.

Give me a piece of paper or a computer keyboard, though, and my hems and haws dissolve. Yep, I am the exact opposite of 90 percent of the general, non-writing population.

Back when I taught remedial English to college students, they'd practically break out in hives when they were faced with an essay (which was a lot in my class.) The only way I could convince them that they could write was to sit them down and make them tell me a story that I busily and as unobtrusively as possible transcribed.

Then I'd clean up the notes I'd made (my handwriting is as bad as my oral-story-telling skills) and read back to them what they'd just told me. "See?" I'd say, tapping the paper. "That's all I need."

Poor students. They'd look at me like they were waiting for a trap to spring. "Nah," they'd tell me. "That's too easy."

Speak for yourself, I'd think. I've long been envious of good oral story tellers.

In 2003, when The Kiddo was a baby and I was an editor/reporter for a chain of small weeklies, I was loading The Kiddo in my car's backseat when a friend of mine unwittingly slammed the car door shut -- with my hand still on the jam.

I will admit I said a few choice words, because, man, it hurt.

But the thing that got me was how scared I was that I'd broken one or more of the 27 fingers in my paw. I remember standing on the sidewalk, cradling my hand, my heart thumping in my chest. I nearly dissolved into a puddle of relief when all five of my fingers worked as advertised.

I know writers who have broken BOTH hands while on deadline and miraculously managed to dictate the rest of their books. Me? Well, according to The Husband, I'd be using Word's Find And Replace feature to search and destroy all my hems and haws.

So what's YOUR biggest body-part-fear when it comes to writing? What accomodations would you have to make if you lost that body part?


Matthew Rush said...

Whoa. For a second I thought you said you had 27 fingers, but I think you meant bones. I'm really particular about how and where I type when I write, so I have this fear as well, though perhaps not as bad.

I have to use a desktop, with a big clicky keyboard, and two monitors. I can't fully explain why. I can edit on a laptop, or revise, but not really write properly. I hunt and peck so maybe that's it. I also have to keep my finger nails trimmed quite short. I'm weird.

Thanks for sharing Cynthia!

Today's guest blogger is Emilia Plater!

Lickety Splitter said...

I share your penchant for writing instead of orally telling a story. My mind needs the space allowed by writing to properly narrate any story. Else, I get lost in my own thoughts. I love good storytellers of any kind.

I don't give much thought to body part losses. That's me putting my head in the sand. Here's hoping I don't have to cut off a finger to make me take notice of the possibility.

Linda G. said...

Shoulders. I had rotator cuff tendonitis last year--probably from hunching over my laptop too much--and was amazed at how difficult it is to type without free use of your shoulders.

abby mumford said...

i too am a horrible oral story teller, except my failures come from (a) mumbling (b) speaking too fast (c) not giving enough details (d) rushing to the ending because i start blushing and want the spotlight off me.

Jeannie Moon said...

My back and neck. If my back spasms I can't sit at my desk and work. I can't do much since I'm probably on muscle relaxers and sleeping.

However, my neck is something else. Being at the computer my neck muscles will spasm if I don't watch my posture. It's common for people with desk jobs...but my spasms cause headaches. Really bad ones that don't go away.

So I'm careful as to how I sit and I get up regularly to walk around and stretch.

Tawna Fenske said...

Matthew, I read the 27 fingers thing too, but just assumed she was being funny :)

I, too, am petrified of losing a finger or a hand. I suck at telling stories orally (snicker) and nearly came unglued two years ago when a nerve problem in my elbow started to compromise my ability to feel things in the pinky & ring finger on my left hand.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I read today about Rad Bradbury, 90 yo and confined to a wheelchair, dictating his stories over the phone to his daughter in another state. If that's not daughterly love, I don't know what is!

Also: I hope to be writing when I'm 90 as well. Leave it to Brabury to lead the way!

Jessica Lemmon said...

I'm with Linda, shoulder would be bad, because I'm having this shoulder/neck/arm/fingers/numbness thing lately that I don't like at all.

I'm really good at oral! Story-telling... I mean *blush* GEEZ.

I am though. I can tell a joke like nobody's business and I'm always reframing my day in my mind to tell it to my husband or mom in the most interesting way possible.

However... dictate a story *cringe* - I like the solitude of the keyboard and my brain being downloaded onto it. Sometimes, I watch in awe as the words appear.

It was Stephen King who said, "Writers [are] blessed stenographers taking divine dictation."

Jamie D. said...

LOL - My attempts at telling a story verbally would be much like me trying to tell someone what I'm writing about now. "Well, there's this guy, and he...and then this girl, she does this for a living but she'd rather be doing that. Did I mention the pesky neighbor down the street? No? Let me start over..."

Not pretty.

My wrists are what I worry about the most. Every once in awhile I'll hold them the wrong way or forget to watch my posture at work, and my hands/wrists will go in and out of numbness for weeks sometimes. I can still type, but I worry about developing conditions that would require, say, surgery. I've heard it takes a long, long time to recover from that sort of thing.

I shattered the back of my right hand in high school and was in a cast for 8 weeks. Longest weeks of my life, and I wasn't even writing back then. That sort of thing would be devastating now. *shiver* I do have arthritis in that hand/ say I always will. So that's my second fear - that it will eventually get to bad for me to type with.

Claire Dawn said...

Speaking of handwriting, I'm about to tag you in a hadwriting meme on my blog. lol. Have fun!