Sunday, June 05, 2011


About a month ago, I started getting pains in my right hand. I don't usually complain about the aches and pains, and it wasn't that bad. Seeing as I'm nearing forty years old, and it is one among many little pains, I didn't mention it to anyone. Being a guy I decided to tough it out.

Well, first I thought it was from the computer mouse, then possibly from perhaps straining it doing all the spring yard work. It got worse, and worse, to the point where I was constantly in pain. Finally, when I had backed off both those activities, I had to admit it was the writing.

My first thought was: My addiction has finally caught up with me.

This is my writing, normally.

I love writing with a fountain pen. I had backed off my journal writing last year at about the time I dropped off Facebook, both for the same reason - to write the new novel. Then, two months ago, I stopped writing in my journal. Nearly two decades of journals now sit in my office untouched and out of currency.
The problem with giving up writing is that my job requires I write notes about what I do all day, and I'm constantly taking notes and writing correspondence. Then, in my free time, I write. It's not hard to see how my dominant hand got strained. It never gets a break. Still, I can't give up writing altogether, because it's my life.

My solution? The idea came to me unrelated many months ago during my research. In order to understand ancient Assyria, I began learning Sumerian cuneiform (and still have plans to write a stela in clay, but that's another story), and then Aramaic in the Assyrian alphabet. I found that writing right to left made me smear the ink with the fountain pen, and that it was easier to write with my left.

So, with an aching right thumb and forefinger, I started teaching myself to write in English with my left hand, left to right, and to do my editing the same. At first, it looked like it was written by a kid using a quill. It was shaky, somewhat hesitant, and full of mistakes. It wasn't spelling or anything like that, but I was focusing so hard on the actual act of writing, that I couldn't remember what I was trying to say.

My thoughts were confused, my sentences sometimes scattered and incomplete. Not only that, but it was taking me three times as long to get a word written. It felt like I was writing in a mirror or something. I thought of Leonardo DaVinci, who wrote backwards in a mirror to avoid the decoding of his notes. I now have much more respect for his skills as a lateral thinker.

This is my writing on drugs, with a side of bacon.

It is getting easier. I now use my left for the mouse on my computer, and for the majority of other work around the house. I've found the best way to learn the writing is by doing it, just plowing ahead and making mistakes, concentrating more on the flow than on getting every letter right. It's actually legible now.

Try it sometime. It's one of those essential skills to learning to write Arabic.

Maybe next ... ?

Download my first novel, squeakyclean:

I have a PC/iPad/iPhone

I have a Kindle!

No comments:

Post a Comment