Monday, July 18, 2011

back in action

Okay, so here I am blogging. But not in the traditional sense. Today is the first day that I've used voice recognition software, and so far it seems to be working pretty well. The fact of the matter is I don't have a choice. It's either rest my hand completely or risk permanent damage, so here I am dictating… and it feels damn strange.

I'd like to make a plea to all the writers out there—take care of your wrists and hands. Consider this: I didn't really start writing until I was 18. So even though I have written quite a few words during this time frame, I've really only been writing for 13 years. Yet, here I am with a serious repetitive strain injury (RSI). Given the fact that computers are currently being first used by toddlers as opposed to teenagers (as was the case on I was younger), I wouldn't be surprised if everyone suffers from some sort of computer related RSI injury in the future.

One of the most valuable things I've learned from getting tendinitis is that it is often caused by improper positioning and unnecessary tightness around the wrists and hands (I also learned that I have a remarkably low threshold for pain, but that's another story). If you notice any tightness when you write, or if you hold your hand in the same way—especially if you allow it to hover over the keyboard in a rigid position—check out the following exercises:
They help a great deal, both for preventative care and during the healing process.

It's been rather unbearable to not be able to write. In a way, it's really made me realize how valuable writing is to my life. I underestimated how often I sit down at the computer and write despite the fact that I don't have a regular routine. Personally, I've always tended to write whenever I find the time, which is usually in between other activities. But these in between times really add up. Having not had the ability to write over the last two weeks, I have damn near gone crazy. Luckily, my writing is supporting itself in that I got a few award checks this month that paid for this software. I'll keep you up to date as far as how everything goes, but for now it seems to be going okay… the only way to heal tendinitis is through rest, and unfortunately I'm not a to point my life yet where I can take off of work for a long period of time so for now voice recognition will have to do.

It will be interesting to see if I can complete creative work using voice recognition. I will say, it does feel quite a bit different. Something about the process of recording my thoughts seems somehow off... if nothing else, this is the way to get the rough ideas down.

In writing news, I have just received my hard copy of Short Story America. To share the pages with such talented writers is a distinct honor. I want to thank Tim Johnston and recognize the other authors in the anthology; it's a beautiful work, physically and content-wise. Also, I'd like to thank Dawn Herring for providing some great links that helped me to put together the workshop and provide a set of resources for the participants of the Journal Writing workshop at the San Antonio Public Library. I had an amazing time teaching this workshop. I was surprised and delighted by the wide variety of ages and backgrounds—from seasoned writers to those who had never before considered keeping a journal—which made the event truly magical. I have been invited back to teach another workshop in the fall, and I will be announcing the details about that event on my website very soon.

Thank you for hanging in there with me. I hope to be more active on this blog soon as I get used to this software, and hopefully find a full recovery within a few weeks thanks to the rest that will allow. For now, I'm tired of listening to myself…


  1. Who knows, Jen--you may be onto a zeitgeisty kind of thing with the voice recognition software. There are authors reading their books on CDs. I know it's a stretch between composing and reading, but maybe you'll discover a new way to compose stories and articles and poems. Hasn't Stephen Hawking also pioneered this? I'd say you're in good company! D

  2. Ok... I have to admit, when I first started reading this post, I thought 'voice recognition software?' you're kidding right? So I went and googled it. Man, am I behind the times!
    Not so good that you had to use it because of that horrendous thing called RSI. I feel for you, I really do. I have awful problems with my back from sitting at a computer writing for so long (today I went for acupuncture and the Chinese Doctor pummeled me with a cow horn - I kid you not, I have major bruises to prove it!) But at least I still have the use of my hands in order to continue typing. I hope your RSI recovers quickly, I can't imagine how weird it must be to write without using your fingers. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  3. Thank you so much for your comments, Diana and Suzy! It is strange, but I figure if nothing else that it will give me a different perspective on writing. And, it couldn't hurt my diction.

    Suzy, I'm so sorry to hear about your back. From what I hear about back injuries that has to be just as bad. I am going for acupuncture, too, but the cow horn sounds a little scary :-) what we do for the love of writing, eh?

  4. First, I'm amazed at how beautiful this looks with Voice Recognition software. I'm wondering how you edit with it, but that's another story. I've often wondered if I could write with this. I've been typing (fast!) for SO long and it seems like part of the process. I've often wondered if not being able to type with mess with the process.

    BIG congrats on Short Story America. Wow. That's terrific. I'm so happy for you, Jen. You're awesome.

    Great blog!

  5. Thank you Lissette… See how it spells your name? That kind of stuff is pretty annoying, but I think it's pretty cool overall. I haven't been any real writing with it yet, but when to try after school tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.

  6. The acupuncture works wonders! Good luck!

  7. I'm sure it is different. Something about typing loosens ideas in my head....I'm typing before I'm even sure what's coming out, and sometimes I'm astounded by the words on the screen.

    I hope you get better soon...:)

  8. That must be very difficult for you to restrain yourself from typing, but pain is a great motivator. Awhile back, I pulled BOTH of my Achilles tendons because I jumped back into running like I had as a twenty-something-year-old and my body couldn't take it. I pushed myself too far. Now I regret doing that... I may never be able to run again. So kudos to you for giving yourself time to heal and being willing to use voice control for this period of time.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.


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