The Writer: Light at the End of the Carpal Tunnel


Mary sits in front of her computer keyboard, silently willing her fingers to tap out just a few more words. She is alone in her kitchen, sitting at her laptop in front of big bay windows. “Just ten more minutes… or 250 words, whichever comes first” she promises her wrists, both of which are protesting madly at today’s debauchery. The fingers are willing to hold out. The tendons in Mary’s thumbs, however, are having none of it. Mary feels the sharp sparks bouncing up her thumbs from her wrist joint at intermittent moments.

Ten hours of straight writing and editing. Ten hours with her fingers poised over or tapping on a keyboard. She used to be able to do this with ease. Now, though, it’s harder. Thirty years of ten hour days at sixty words per minute have finally caught up with her carpal tunnels.

As yet another painful spark flies up her right thumb, Mary launches her speech recognition software and reaches for her headset.

“I am a writer,” Mary says in a voice that echoes a William Shatner song. “I will not be deterred.”

Mary used to ask herself what she would do if she ever lost her ability to hold a pen or manipulate a keyboard. Now she knows. Pen, paper, keyboard, word processor: these are all only tools. Writing is about words. Any way you get them out there is the right way.

So Mary talks to her computer. At first, she feels awkward. It is like talking to herself.  Alongside her, on the other side of those windows, the sun starts to set. Mary continues telling her story, releasing the words caught in her mind that push their way out onto the page.

“The girl lay in the hospital bed,” Mary dictates. “She tries to gather her thoughts but finds herself unable to think. She tries to sit up but finds herself restrained by two firm leather straps around her wrists. How did she get here? How did she become so broken down, so isolated?”

Mary pauses mid-sentence and looks at the words on the “page” in front of her. She is instantly amused by Microsoft Word’s autocorrect. “delirious” becomes “deep fried rice”. “chocolate” is spelled out “chalk lots”. Mary wills her swollen fingers to make the corrections, clicks save, and presses ever onward. She is mostly relying on her voice, however her fingers creep over the keyboard, settling into their familiar positions. The pull of the keyboard is undeniable.

The words inside Mary’s mind will not let her rest until they are set free. Writers write because they have a story to tell. That story can be big or small; no matter its size, the story will press on a writer’s soul until it is unleashed on the page.

Mary sighs happily and continues working, letting the story flow. It is well past the ten minutes and 250 words she promised her wrists. She will most definitely pay for the crimes she has committed on her carpal tunnels tomorrow morning.

Mary does not care. With each word, the story is set free. With each word, Mary is set free.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s