What is the sound of one hand typing?
Plunk, plunk…plunk……………plunk…oops, backspace.
What is the sound of two hands typing?
In my case, it’s been: Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Then, after a while, a retreat downstairs to the couch.
About six weeks ago, I had a bad car accident and broke all the bones in my left forearm and carpel (I guess I now have my own version of carpel tunnel syndrome). I feel lucky I wasn’t hurt more severely and that I’m right handed. Two operations and several casts later, I’m slowly on the mend.
So how has this affected my writing? Well, I’m glad I could confine what little writing I did in the early days to email. Back then, painkillers and only one useful hand made the keyboard feel like a wilderness to be conquered. I am a touch typist and have found that using one hunt-and-peck forefinger means a lot more hunting and less pecking than I imagined. My fingers know the keys much better than my visual memory does. It doesn’t help that my emotional attachment to a decade-old keyboard means many of the letter symbols have worn off the keys.
Yes, I know that I can just compose longhand, the way I used to hammer out all my articles when I first started my career as a magazine writer. But technology changed a long time ago. I made the switch and my brain has too. I am so used to my hands being able to keep up with my thoughts that I’m no longer trained to hold the upcoming words --long phrases or a word picture--in my mind for that length of time. Tap, tap, tapping of the forefinger creates the same problem.
Dragon, the voice recognition software? Thought about it, bought it, returned it unwrapped. Maybe it would have been a godsend for email. But, for me, there are essential components to thoughtful writing it just wouldn’t satisfy. The process isn’t all that different, but dictation feels distracting, moor less, as if the words I really want, their order and the meaning I want to make of them could just float away. When typing, words and ideas go from the mind through the hands, then via the eyes back to the brain to continue the process. Mind, hands, eyes—three parts, each with its own job to do, which includes freeing the others to do theirs.
I know Steven Hawking has managed just fine using a different system. And, he’s hardly the only one. If my injury had been worse or permanent, I would work to rewire my creative circuitry. Seems a little daunting, though. So, even though I’ve given serious thought to a book I’m gearing up to refashion, something tells me it will stay on simmer until my cast comes off.