On Wednesday morning last week, I went in for my weekly unwrapping. He took off my bandages. It was the first time in three weeks I could stomach my hand. I didn’t see stars. He said it was time for rehabilitation and that I could shower with my finger, and try to bend it. (It’s very stiff.)
“Can I type?” I asked him. It’s all I wanted to know. Can I write? On the computer.
“You can try, but I don’t think you’ll be able to,” he said.
“But if I can, it won’t hurt my finger?”
“No. You can try. But I don’t think you’ll be able to.”
I thanked him. He’s been pretty nice doctor. Doesn’t believe in painkillers but he’s nice. I had to twist his arm for narcotics the first week out of surgery. I told him there was no way I was going home without something harder than Tylenol. He reluctantly acquiesced.
The kids and I went back to the house, I took off my wrap, sat down at my computer and opened the new novel I was working on before the beam incident and picked up exactly where I left off. I couldn’t type for long. But I typed.
The next day I did the same thing only I typed some more. The next day – the same.
This morning, there’s less tingling and it hurts less every day.
It’s easy to doubt who we are and very easy to doubt what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives and our time, especially if what we’re doing is risky. I have doubts about my writing daily. Sometimes hourly. It’s hard to self-promote. It’s hard to market one’s own work. I like to promote others – not myself. In this business though, I don’t have a choice. If I’m going to publish, I have to tell people about my book.
And every time my agent sends the news about another rejection I doubt what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Shouldn’t I be doing something easier? Maybe all these rejections mean I suck. Shouldn’t this be easier if it were what I was supposed to be doing? It’s not. It’s hard. Most days those thoughts fly across my mind – I think I better do something different.
On the days when rejections are all I see, I say it out loud to myself. I’m going to quit. It’s too much.
And then one day, out of the blue, my little ring finger on my left hand gets busted up and I have to have surgery. Everything changes. The doctor said he might have to cut the tip of my finger off and all of life became as clear as a fresh summer morning after a rain fall.
Tears streamed down my face. I was lying on my back holding up my wrapped finger. “Doctor, before we go into surgery can I tell you something?” I could barely talk.
“Yes.” He paused before leaving the room.
“They told me.”
“And, I’m a writer, Doctor. I write.”
“I’ll do my best,” he said.
They wheeled me back a few hours later to surgery and I got emotional, started crying. The whole thing was emotional – another country, shock, my finger hurt, my kids were crying before I left my room.
The surgery room was sterile, that damn robe barely covered my body and I felt exposed, lots of men and bright lights. They didn’t knock me out, so I could hear everything and had to work extra hard against a panic attack. I even asked the doctor for something to calm me down and he said – “No, I need you to calm yourself down, please.”
Clarity. I prayed and thanked God I hadn’t lost my hand. And then asked him to save the tip of my finger. I want to write. Even if only for myself. I am a writer.
Clarity. It doesn’t matter if I’m good or bad. Not really. Not in the way I think it does. I write because I love to write. My task is to write the very best I can in the moment – the rest of it is out of my hands. (excuse the pun) Is it hard to deal with rejection? Absolutely. Am I tempted to write in a corner and bury my work? Yes. Every day. Will I? No. Because we write to share. We write to give.
There are so many things that are out of my control. There are a few within it. I get to choose what to do with the couple of hours of free time in the morning or in the evening before I go to bed. I can choose to get up early every day and write a thousand words. I can still choose to type. Nail or no nail – I can move my finger. I have a hand. W and S. Those are important letters.
Clarity. I am a writer.
Tell me about a moment of clarity.