Stupidity and the Muse

02 Nov

I did something incredibly stupid last week. I was using a paper cutter that I didn’t realize was broken. In a split second I managed to cut the index finger of my right hand. My dominant hand. I severed both tendons and cut into the joint of my knuckle.

A few days later I had surgery to repair the damage. I am now one week into a ten week course of physical therapy that requires me to do exercises every hour and meet with a therapist twice a week. My finger hurts constantly and I am alternating pain medications that work all right but not great. I’ve stopped the heavy drugs the doctor prescribed because I can’t think when I take them.

I don’t mean to complain. I cut my finger and it is what it is.

I know someone who had a similar cut and instead of going through the surgery and therapy she had her finger removed. It would certainly be easier.

However, I’m a writer. It’s what I do. What I – we as writers – are compelled to do. We hear voices in our heads. We have stories that play out like movies in our minds. We see a person crossing the street and we add a complete imaginary backstory to what got them here while we wait at the light. We hear a turn of phrase and it becomes the start of our WIP.

We do what we do because we love it. It is our passion. We hope to find an agent and get published one day. Some of us self-publish. We take different roads on our journey because we, like our stories, are unique. But we don’t stop and we don’t give up because our stories never die and we are the only ones to bring them to life.

I can write with three fingers and a thumb on my right hand. I’m doing it right now due to the splint I’ll be wearing for the next several weeks. But I can write easier and faster with a working index finger. So I’ll do my time and my therapy and get my finger back to full use. Because I am a writer and we don’t give up.

What challenges have you encountered lately?


Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Idaho


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21 responses to “Stupidity and the Muse

  1. johannaharness

    November 2, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    I’m so sorry, Meredith. When I broke my elbow, I found myself in a similar position and many suggested I work with voice recognition software. I looked into it, but ultimately decided it would take about as long to train myself and the software as it would for my elbow to heal. If my recovery time had been longer, I think it would have been worth it. It might be worth exploring.

    I’m wishing you a full and speedy recovery.

    • Meredith Conner

      November 2, 2011 at 8:05 AM

      Someone suggested the same thing to me. It’s funny though – we have our ways of writing and our comfort zones and I love the quiet time and seeing the words as I type them not say them. You are right though – if the doctor’s had said it would be a longer recovery and typing became too painful, I’d look into it 🙂

  2. blankenshiplouise

    November 2, 2011 at 5:56 AM

    (wincing in sympathy pain) I totally understand — thoughts come out of my hands in a completely different form from what my mouth can manage.

    Recent challenges: my old Mac died about a month ago. I’ve replaced it, but it seems to have taken its external hard drive with it… which had on it over a thousand mp3s, all ranked, sorted, playlisted for optimal writing support…

    I’ve been limping along with Pandora and iTunes radio stations but I want my music back (cries). Especially my project-specific playlists.

    • Meredith Conner

      November 2, 2011 at 8:08 AM

      Ooohhhh. I had that happen once. Technology can be so wonderful and efficient until something goes wrong and then it can be a disaster. And so upsetting!!!

      You said it exactly “thoughts come out of my hands in a completely different form from what my mouth can manage” – so true!!!!! I hear the words as I type them. It has a certain cadence and rhythm in my brain. I would hate to have my voice mess that up 🙂

  3. Janis McCurry

    November 2, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    Meredith, take very good care and don’t push your recovery before it’s time. My challenges are mental, which sounds very…mental. It’s hard to keep the faith when you’ve been in the game awhile. I constantly shore up my faith and it gets tedious.

    Take care.

  4. Liz Fredericks

    November 2, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    I’m embracing the notion of serendipity these days. ‘You don’t give up’ is a fundamental tenet, because we simply don’t know how even horrible and painful events might lead us to a right path. I KNOW you’ll be published and have millions waiting eagerly for your next book (cuz, I’ve read your stuff and damn you can write . . . . even at your three-fingered plus thumb pace). I’m with Janis – my challenges are mental these days, but at least I know my path and I need to write to arrive.

  5. Meredith Conner

    November 2, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    I have those issues too Janis. I know our writing history is different, but I am such an emotional wreck when it comes to those awful rejections. I finally realized that I needed more than my own lame pep talks to keep me going on those days (weeks) and saved one of my contest entries from a judge who had the nicest things to say about my WIP. I didn’t final in that contest, but her comments and remarks felt like a big old hug. I now open that and re-read it on the bad days and it works, I start writing.

  6. Meredith Conner

    November 2, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    Right back at you Liz! I’ve read your stuff too and when a character – good or deliciously evil – stays with you after you’ve read something – you know that is a good story. My stomach still knots over your antagonist!!!
    I really believe that writing is part skill, part luck and part determination. And I’m beginning to think the determination part is the most important part!!!! We all do need “to write to arrive.” I love your turn of phrase.

  7. Peggy Staggs

    November 2, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    My guilt is surpassed only by the empathy I have for your damaged digit.
    My struggle right now isn’t with busted parts it’s with the blasted move. After numerous postponements we are finally (drum roll please) moving next Tuesday. I’ve been trying to write, but there’s so much to do I can’t carve out much time. The less I write the crankier I get. Everyone will be much happier when we’re settled. And even happier when they can retire on the profits of my best sellers.

  8. Meredith Conner

    November 2, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    Sometimes life does “get in the darn way” of our writing. Still – you are going to be so happy in your new house Peg! Just think of that beautiful office all set up and ready for your best seller!
    Please don’t feel guilty – it was my own stupidity. I’d just had the thought that something might be wrong with the cutter when the accident happened. Would have been nice if my brain had worked just a little faster 🙂

  9. ramblingsfromtheleft

    November 2, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Meredith, I have the sense you can hunt and peck with just two fingers if need be. I hope your healing is swift and the process not too painful and in the mean time remember those cub reporters in the old B&W movies and peck away. By the way, I worked for a man who typed at record speed with his middle finger. He said it gave him two times the satisfaction … one because he could type as fast as anyone with ten fingers and two because he could “give the finger” to whatever work he needed to finish 🙂

    • Meredith Conner

      November 2, 2011 at 7:06 PM

      I love that story! I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks!

  10. Susan Russo Anderson

    November 2, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Thank you so much for your post. Like many of us, I cringed just reading it.

    And I’ve been staring at white trying to come up with words of healing. I write a few lines, think I’ve found a hook, but delete it in disgust.

    Like all of us I’ve had my share of challenges—sudden death of loved ones, ill children, moves across the country, job losses—but through the catastrophic changes, I’ve always had the ability to steal away, shut out the chaos, and write. It’s what gets me through, letting my fingers fly across a page or a screen, creating a character, a world, a story.

    So, Meredith, I’d love to say I know what you’re going through, but I don’t. It must be bleak. Will there be saving grace? A payback for your suffering? They say the brain finds alternate paths to glory, but I wouldn’t know. My heart goes out to you.

    But I did read your post, “Writing and Renewal,” and see that you are taking the most important medicine of all. It’s your own prescription—“And to share that road, that journey, can be a remarkable thing.”

    • Meredith Conner

      November 2, 2011 at 7:13 PM

      Thanks Susan! I know that compared to a lot of challenges that we have to face in life, a finger injury can be minor. But to us writers – well, I think only another writer can understand that feeling. I’m getting better at typing with the splint. All I can say right now is thank goodness for spell check – my index finger has really kept me in line up till now.
      And thank you for mentioning my other blog. That really meant a lot.

  11. Mary Vine

    November 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Wow, Meredith. Of all the excuses to get out of writing, this takes the cake! 🙂 When I was 29, I shut my thumb in the car door, broke it, and had to have my mother come and help me for a while. Could not even pull up my pants. So, I understand somewhat. Get well quick! And hey, glad you got some good writing in during NEW/100 first 🙂

  12. Meredith Conner

    November 2, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    Thanks Mary. I can’t tell you how happy I was that I did this AFTER I finished my WIP. It’s kind of amazing the things that we take for granted until we can’t do them, isn’t it. I had to have my husband or daughters hold my toothbrush while I tried to squeeze out the toothpaste for the first several days until I got the hang of it 🙂

  13. Clarissa Southwick

    November 3, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Meredith, I hope your finger heals soon. I have heard good things about the Dragon voice-recognition software, so maybe you could give it a try. But I have never actually used it.

    My challenges come in the form of interruptions. I would swear my husband and kids have worked out a schedule where I am never left alone for more than 3 minutes 🙂 But there’s nothing I would do to change them.

    Usually when I have problems actually writing–headache, broken computer, etc–I focus on the non-writing part of story telling. I catch up on my reading, study craft, create new stories in my head. But I know this is an especially frustrating time of year to not be writing. You’re in the middle of a great story, the Golden Heart deadline looms, and NaNoWriMo is calling.

    You have my sympathy 🙂 Please let me know if I can help .

  14. Carley Ash

    November 3, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Oh my gosh, Meredith. That sounds awful. So glad it wasn’t any worse.

  15. Marsha R. West

    November 4, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    Sorry to hear of your accident, Meredith. Try not to spend any more time guilting yourself over this. Accidents happen, no one’s fault. I’m so glad the docs could repair your finger. Amazing what they can do these days. However, not being a particularly patient-patient myself, I want to be instantly well. Therapists are pretty much miracal workers, so hang in there.
    My roadblocks are also mental. I love what you said about re-reading what those nice contest results are. I need to try that the next time I get one of those responses that rip your heart out (not saying the judge/editor/agent meant to do that). Yes, I’ll be subbing one person’s opinion for another–which is all any of it is–but stopping the killing negativity is vital to keep on keeping on. Swift healing to you. Marsha

  16. Lynn Mapp

    November 7, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Meredith, honey. Ow. My brush with a paper cutter only resulted in nails cut way too close. I’m sorry about your accident.
    On the positive side, you’ll still working. You didn’t let this hold you back. You are a superstar.

  17. Gloria Bostic (@GBostic5)

    November 9, 2011 at 5:45 AM

    You have certainly helped me put my own challenges in perspective. I am dealing with no more than real life getting in the way of me finding the time I want to write.
    My parents (88 & 89) live in another state and recently mother broke her leg. One week later, father broke his hip! So I have spent much of the past month on the road between PA and MD. That, along with my volunteer work, (which has been distributing poppies to raise $$ for Veterans) has interfered a bit.
    However, my father will be home from rehab next week, this was the last weekend of the Poppy Campaign, and I get to go to an SCBWI conference next weekend. So I shall count my blessings, stop complaining, and be glad all 10 of my fingers are easily able to dance across the keyboard.
    I do hope your therapy and healing go well, that the pain lessens, and that you soon have a much easier time of it. Thank you for sharing. You have certainly earned my admiration and respect.


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