Monday Morning Musings


“I have a dream…”

We all have a dream, and on this day set aside to honor a man who did much to bring Civil Rights to the forefront of our nation, I want to share my dream for America:

That it will be a nation of peace of unity. A place where the lamb will lay down with the lion. Where weapons will be molded into plowshares. Where love-speak will replace hate-speak. Where future generations will live without fear – in a land that is rich and green and thriving.

On a personal note I want to share the good news that I’m about to finish the third book in the seasons mystery series, Desperate Season. One of the goals that I set for myself for this year was to get this book finished, and it’s a good feeling to know that I am really close. I have the ending scenes roughed in, and I just have to write the transitions and smooth everything out.

Then the hard part of editing starts.

If you have been following my blog for a while you know that I have postherpetic trigeminal neuralgia which has severely impacted my ability to write. The pain in my head keeps me off the computer more than I would like.

Now, in addition to that, I have severe arthritis in my hands, primarily affecting my thumbs. The orthopedic doctor said that is due to, first of all a genetic tendency in my family to have osteoarthritis – thanks a lot Mom and Dad – but also the years I have spent hammering on a keyboard. The total of those years is well over fifty as I progressed from my old manual typewriter, to an electric, to my first computer, and since then through many variations of keyboards connected to those computers.

I learned some time ago, from a writer friend who was slowly going blind, that despite issues and challenges a story teller can never stop writing. While my output of words has slowed considerably in the last four years, it has not stopped. I’ve found creative ways to get around some of the limitations, and I’m figuring a way around this arthritis.

Primarily, dictation.

I never thought I could compose by speaking into a microphone, but then the thought of creating using a keyboard instead of a pen or pencil was alien to me those many moons ago when I made that switch. As my writer friend said, we do what we have to do to get the story out.

I’ve recently started using Dragon Naturally Speaking for actual composing and creating. I’d acquired the program a number of years ago so I could read documents into my computer while working on the various history books with Bill Jones, the Winnsboro historian. But I’d not tried to use it to actually create.

Prior to this most recent attempt to be creative while skipping the use of a keyboard, I had been using my phone. That started primarily when a new thought about a story would pop into my head at the most inconvenient time – like just as I was about to fall asleep at night. I could grab my phone and dictate an email to myself and send it on.

After a while, I liked that process more and more and used it more frequently for dictating during the day when I had to stop looking at a computer screen or stop typing.

Whoever that little elf is behind the microphone putting my words on the screen, she types a whole lot faster than I ever could, even before my hands got old.

The phone is still faster at times than the dragon. I’m not sure why. Neither is my son who is a computer scientist. He was here this weekend and tried to find out why the dragon did not work well with Microsoft Word, especially in that existing manuscript for Desperate Season.  It remained a mystery even to him, too. So we both decided that since I was so close to finishing that book, we’d just ignore that issue and I could move on. The dragon does work well with most of my social media, as well as new documents in Word, so whatever little gremlin is hiding in that old manuscript, it can just stay there.

Have you found creative ways to work around limitations brought on by age and health issues? This question  isn’t just for writers. Our friend Arthritis affect many other things we do. Please share. And however you are spending Martin Luther King Day, be safe. Be happy.

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