A New Challenge Stimulates

I visited an emergency room early last week. As a patient.

While washing dishes I broke a ceramic bowl. One instant I was holding the bowl; the next instant I was holding my wounded hand, gashed palm pumping out blood.

I got lucky in two ways. A plastic surgeon that specializes in hands walked through the emergency room, saw me elevating me newly bandaged hand, and examined me. Dr. Omar Ahmed let me know the other way I was lucky: I just missed cutting the major nerve in the hand and one of the two arteries that supply the hand. If I had nicked the nerve, Doc said, “I would be digging in you for quite a while tonight [to do repairs], and your hand would never fully recover.” My heartfelt thanks, Dr. Ahmed, for cleaning and sewing me up, as well as buoying my spirit and answering all my questions.

For a couple of days I couldn’t do a thing with that hand but keep it elevated and dry. I spent most of the next day in bed. Writing longhand was no option all week. Typing came back quicker, but I do it carefully. This has renewed my interest in voice recognition software, which a grant writer recommended for productivity back in the spring.

Although I took my outpatient hospital visit as an opportunity to do research – every experience is a chance for a writer to gather material – it took me aback in terms of writing. Then it took me onward. I had taken for granted my physical abilities, once again. Just removing the child-proof cap on my antibiotics is a major challenge one-handed.

This obstacle to writing is not an obstacle at all, just a hindrance. The real obstacle was my inertia. The real challenge is my desire, my commitment.

I soaked up knowledge and experiences this summer and took a decent amount of notes, but I owe it to my readers and myself to put more into this blog and toward finishing my novel. This reminded me, in a smaller way than some occasions, of my mortality. I have larger challenges that are more important and I decide if and when I take up those challenges.

I’ll be hosting a one-day writing workshop in Los Angeles on September 24th led by Bruce Gelfand, an excellent coach of writers, be they poets, novelists, or memoirists. Send me an email for details.

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