You would think I’d say zombies or perhaps my house burning down. Fear of being poor. Fear of tornados. Yeah, no. None of those things. I’m not even really that frightened of breaking my ankle again, though it would suck. Honestly, there are only a few things that really make my heart race: death (mine or my family’s), illness (fatal and unpleasant, mine or my family’s), and breaking one of my fingers or otherwise permanently damaging my hand.
I’ve lived through death (not my own, obviously) and illness and they are both hideous and unpleasant. I’d like to not do it again but I guess I’ll have no choice at some point. Shit happens.
However, I have never injured my hands. I’ve strained a muscle or two and had my wrist ache from too much mousing (computer mousing, that is), but I’ve never broken a finger. And I bet that would be unbelievably HORRIBLE. Why? Because I couldn’t type. Omigosh I can’t even think about it without feeling hysterical. People think of musicians and surgeons and their hands. They say: oh that would be tragic, if something happened to her hands. Why, why don’t they ever mention writers?
I’ve thought about it. Even if I never truly sell a lot of books (or even sell any, which could definitely happen), the act of writing sustains me. I read an essay today about what success means for a poet (at Jeannine Hall Gailey’s blog) and her conclusion was that the writing itself was enough. I agree. (I strive to agree with that incredibly heathy attitude while I continue to weep and moan over the rejections that fly into my inbox.) Writing itself is a wonderful act of creation. Of defiance. Of hey, this is what I have to say and if you don’t like it, too bad rebellion against our culture and society and art and stagnancy and sometimes myself. Except, how the hell would I do that if something happened to my hands?
I know/have known two writers who lost the use of their hands through illness. One managed by typing with a pencil in her mouth. The other, well I don’t actually know how he gets by, but he continues to write amazing poetry. I know it’s not impossible. Still. I imagine it must be like that nightmare where your body is frozen and you can’t get up the hill. Words would back up inside my head like a truly epic sentence-traffic jam. And how would I read? How to hold a book? Even now my heart rate speeds up at the idea. . .
I'm right there with you. When I got RSI, and it got very bad, I didn't do anything with my hands—although handwriting stuff hurt less than typing—and it was terrible. I never want to go back to that period; it does mean loss of art.
Mary, yeah, RSI is a terrible thing. I get "mouse wrist" sometimes, and the only thing that helps is to stop typing and using my computer mouse for a week. It drives me crazy. It even impedes my ability to use a pencil and write longhand.