Thursday, March 6, 2014

Writer's Block of a Physical Kind

I wager that few writers escape the unwanted charms of “Writer's Block." You know, sitting in front of that blank piece of paper or computer screen without any idea of what the heck to write. If you haven't suffered from this at least once, I want to know your secret! But what about writer's block unrelated to our thought processing center where ideas develop, sentences form and pages turn into stories? What about ..... a physical writer's block? 

My first experience with it occurred in the middle of finalizing the illustrations for The Big Bad Rain Monster with artist and illustrator, Karen Hitt

It happened in The Hamptons, where I suffered a deep gash on the fifth finger of my right hand. Naturally, and going along with Murphy's Law where if it can go wrong, it will - I write with my right hand, the injured hand.

Weeks later, while talking to two rugged Montauk deep-sea fishermen, I realized I couldn't bend the finger. I had cut the tendons. Surgery at the last possible moment required three different and unfashionably cumbersome splints, which I wore for six long weeks. I couldn't bathe. I couldn't drive. I couldn't write. Physiotherapy sessions followed, which forced me to suspend the follow-up with the editor and illustrator of my children's book. Afterwards, I referred to this frustrating experience as a “Writer's Block of a Physical Kind.”

Due to the lapse in time between the accident and the surgery, the finger bends, but doesn't completely straighten. I'm able to perform most things, but playing the piano and striking certain yoga poses are a bit difficult. But, I can write or type on the keyboard.

My hand had healed by the time I received the first exciting draft copy of my book. With everything going well, I had a minor foot surgery, previously scheduled, but postponed due to the finger. The down time of two weeks required me to stay off the foot. Perfect, or so I thought. Confined to a comfortable layout chair, I spent hours typing on my handy HP laptop. The daily and constant clackity clack on the keyboard and possibly the lack of an ergonomic environment, ultimately revived the latent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in both hands; the right hand, of course, being the worse. Remember Murphy's Law. Another surgery scheduled, followed by yet another physical writer's block with writing once again, out of the scenario. 

In time everything healed. I went back to writing.


For the past few weeks, texting a granddaughter from either my IPod or Samsung phone and working at my desk on a writing project has once again nourished my left handed quiescent carpal tunnel. The thought of another surgery is quite unbecoming. To ease the unwanted carpal tunnel back to its dormant stage, I've refrained from writing at bit, and once again.

What have I learned from all of these "Physical Writer's Blocks?" The next time I sit in front of a blank anything, without a thought or idea, I'll remember my banned writing days and offer a prayer of thanks for my two healthy hands. Then, I'll write anything, even if it's, 'I'm sitting in front of a blank wordless computer screen. My mind is blank. The page is blank. I hear an annoying dog outside. He interrupts my much needed silence with his chorus of yipping. I kick away the office chair, raise the half-opened window and look across the ocean fed canal where the dog sits howling. He seems happy, while I am not. To get his attention, I try my tomboy's whistle. The dog ignores me. I'm deafened by his crescendo barking. In a rattled voice, I scream, 'Hey, Blank, stop the barking. I'm trying to write!' 


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