I Do All My Own Stunts, But Never Intentionally*

Ann Minnett MWW photo

 

By Ann Minnett

 

The title appeared in my Facebook feed this morning, posted by an ‘old’ friend. I resonated. 

I’m recovering from knee surgery (healing nicely) and had just purchased heavy duty ice cleats for my hiking boots. Northwest Montana is famous for winter ice, but I intend to keep moving, regardless of the weather. Hikes in all seasons are not only therapeutic for the soul but counteract the physical strains of writing.

Yes, writing.

Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy, spoke at the 2019 Flathead River Writer’s Conference. She talked about the physical stress writers experience by the act of writing. She’s had Carpal Tunnel surgeries on both wrists, developed from nonstop hours of writing. My fellow writers complain of shoulder pain, circulation problems, eyestrain, lower back pain, and my favorite, numb butt. 

I get it. When I’m writing and find my creative zone, it’s hard to stop, stand up, flex, bend, or take a walk. Health breaks disrupt the creative process. 

Recovering from surgery, I walk with a cane and try not to overdo my physical activity. Yesterday, I walked a bit outside and then sat at my desk for a couple of hours, forgetting to move. Ouch! I over did sedentary

That’s why I ordered the hiking cleats this morning. And that’s why my friend’s Facebook message hit home. I don’t have to hike five miles and slip on the ice to hurt myself. Writing, one of the most pleasurable activities of my life, can sneak up and bite me if I’m not careful.

Ann Minnett

annminnett.com

Twitter.com/@ann_minnett

Instagram.com/@annminnett

Facebook.com/annminnettwriter

annminnettwriter@gmail.com

*Facebook.com/OldTimers Community

 

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Writing Blind

claudette young

By Claudette Young

Writers come in all shapes and sizes. Each one’s background is different, experiences unique, and needs individualized. 

But the challenges each writer faces aren’t always obvious. For me, the challenge is doing what I do from behind eyes that are virtually blind to the outside world.  One eye contributes little and the other battles to remain a viable organ.

So, how do I produce anything in this sight and tech-driven world? I have lots of help, in several forms.

I use Dragon Naturally Speaking for dictation and command software. Coupled with MS Office, I can write, revise and edit. My dragon, Usul, allows me to take command of my computer. Usul can transcribe my spoken notes from a voice recorder into a Word document as easily as hearing it through my headset mike.

MS Word also has speech/reading capacity and a voice command capability available. Any good geek—on the Squad or not—can set up that function. A bit of practice gains mastery.

For screenwriting, I use Final Draft, which is easy to learn, reads back text for revision and editing, and has everything needed for the job.

If I’m forced to read actual text, I can set up my computer document for huge font sizes. My fallback setting is 22 pt font—Times New Roman, to be exact. And a good headset with microphone helps keep things under control most of the time. 

Good software helps. As with any disability/handicap/challenge, accepting the need to adapt is the most critical aspect of working with a vision impairment. Understanding what you need, verses what you want, is also key.

For those who are facing a similar challenge or who know someone who faces it, I give these pointers.

  • In order to get the resources–whether visual aids, training, or support—tackle the situation head-on.
  • Diagnosis from a qualified specialist gives you more pertinent information than you might think. You can’t adjust or adapt without that knowledge and support. Once the problem is defined, you can search for necessary resources.
  • Begin with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. The gal to connect in Kalispell is Melissa Leggett: 406-751-5940. She’s in charge of the Division for the Blind for the Kalispell area. She has more resources at her fingertips than you’d ever find on your own.
  • If you need specialized equipment, there are avenues to pursue. Melissa can steer you toward what you need and when/where to lean harder in that direction. Within a year or so, I’ll probably need a large auto reader for print materials. Such readers come in many forms and sizes from desktop to hand-held. I already use a camera reader to enlarge print, for instance. Oh, and plenty of strong handheld magnifiers or lighted headgear.
  • Books, magazines and periodicals are available in audio form through the public library (provided by Library of Congress), Amazon Prime and Audible, and individual publishers.
  • For those online magazines and other reading material, Dragon Naturally speaking can read them for you, if necessary. 
  • The trick is to know when your eyes are being strained too much and when to let go of the physical reading experience. 
  • Organizations, such as Lion’s Club International, are also great resources for exploration. Lions Club chapters dedicate themselves to assisting those in need of dog guides—Leader Dogs for the Blind, specialized equipment too costly for the average person to afford, and other necessities like eyeglasses.
  • Yet, the most helpful and necessary resource is an adequate support structure to help buoy up a person’s spirits or help for navigating the unfamiliar territory of adaptation and growth.

I hope I’ve given those who need it the information to help make informed decisions about dealing with dimming vision. Not all are writers, but everyone is touched by this malady. Globally, blindness is one of the fastest growing challenges today, both economically and medically. Few are left untouched by it.

If anyone needs or wants additional information or questions answered, please feel free to contact me at: ettedualc48@yahoo.com. I’ll be happy to answer what I can or send you to someone who can get the information to you.

Remember, no one is alone. As writers, we care about each other and are here to help whenever possible.

Claudette

http://www.claudettejyoung.com

Resources:

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking can be found on Amazon.com or Nuance.com—Nuance is the software provider of this product
  • Final Draft for screenwriters/playwrights can be had at both Amazon.com and FinalDraft.com
  • Tutorials for Word Speech are available in video form on YouTube or on Lynda.com tutorials
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Kalispell–   

          121 Financial Drive Suite B,  Kalispell, MT 59901, (406) 751-5940                   http://dphhs.mt.gov/detd/vocrehab/mvrservices.aspx

  • Library of Congress Low Vision Reading Program—Imagine If Library – downtown Kalispell or any legitimate library in the county.

Greenhorns

By Diane E. Bokor

In the 1970s, something in the culture shifted.  You often heard of people going “back to the land.” Tom and I were among them.  That is how I ended up here in northwest Montana, reflecting on one of the biggest decisions of my life.  We were twenty-five-year-old city kids who married after meeting in college. We were old enough to be completely emancipated and young enough to do some pretty stupid stuff.  We were greenhorns.

We had made a life in the great white city on the hill (San Francisco) when we caught the bug.  We sold everything that would not fit in the back of our grey Dodge Ram. We quit our jobs and hit the road in search of our piece of “the land.”

We arrived in Kalispell the first week of May, 1976.  It was hot that week, 90 degrees hot. This pleased me greatly, as there were two things that gave me pause about this adventure:  cold temperatures and wild bears. I’ll work on my fear of bears, I thought, this is going to be just fine. It’s just not that cold here.  

All but our brand spanking new REI camping gear went into storage as we headed “back to the land.”  Well, not literally “back” as we had not actually been there yet. We had a plan. Tom and I would spend the summer exploring the region, campground by campground.  In the fall, we would decide where to settle, where to buy our piece of this land. Then, we would confidently figure out the rest of the story.

We had been living in our tiny two-man tent greenhorns campsite for three weeks when Memorial Day weekend rolled around.  It rained for four solid days. I now know that this is a typical Flathead weather pattern. That weekend I was traumatized for four days, peeking out of a blue nylon tent flap, cold and damp, nibbling on candy bars.  It was too wet to start a fire. It was too wet to crawl out of the tent. Forty-three years later, I can tell you that even with climate change, it will rain at some point on Memorial Day weekend in the Flathead.

Later that summer, after drying out, I awoke at dawn to a noise coming from the direction of our campsite picnic table.  Severely nearsighted without my glasses, I sat up in my cozy down sleeping bag, rubbed my eyes and opened them to make out a park ranger bending over our table.  Weird, I thought, why is he up so early?  With my glasses on, I was shocked. HOLY MOSES!  A BEAR! greenhorns bearA man-sized black bear was standing on his rear legs, rooting through the box of groceries we had covered with a plastic garbage bag, to keep it dry of course.  The bear had found our green grapes. Greenhorns with green grapes.

Due to my life long fear of bears, I was pretty sure I was going to die.  Obviously, I did not. Tom was able to find the Dodge keys. I grabbed my single-lens-reflex Minolta.  In our pajamas, like commandos who scurry along the perimeter of a battlefield, we made our way to the passenger side of the truck.  Once safely ensconced in steel and glass, I snapped evidence of our stupidity. If not for the snapshot this whole incident might be lost to the mists of time.

Back then, there were no signs instructing campers about food storage.  There was no host coming by each evening to warn/threaten campers about food storage.  There were no campground brown metal communal food lockers. You can thank me and Tom (and the rest of our ilk) for all that.  

‘Tis the Season to Stock Up on Writing Supplies

eppersonBW

 

By Deborah Epperson

 

You can’t turn on the television at this time of the year without seeing a glut of advertising for back to school sales. If you’re like me and your kids are grown, you may be tempted to tune the ads out, but don’t! If you’re a writer, a crafter, an artist, or work from home in any capacity, this is the time to shop smarter for yourself.  school supplies

There’s no better time than now to restock your home office. Back to school sales provide the perfect opportunity to save money on computer paper, pens, notepads, and almost anything you need (or want) for your office. Been thinking of getting a chalkboard for the kitchen to write down those grocery items as they pop up? Hoping your laptop can last until the Black Friday sales?

Now is the time to check out prices. It’s also a great time for artist and crafters to stock up too. Scissors, glue, colored pencils, tape, and chalk are priced right.

While you’re tracking down bargains for your office and home, you might consider picking up a few extra basic school supplies like pencils, paper, and folders to donate to your local school. About 94% of teachers end up buying some classroom supplies out of their own pockets.

Call your local school and ask them what supplies their teachers need and donate a few to them in honor of that special teacher you or your children had. Mine was Miss Alice Cashen, honors English, grades 10-12. Great teacher and great humanitarian. Without her years of preaching about the power and the importance of books, I’d have never dared think I might be a writer.  

Remember Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who advocated for a girl’s right to an education and defied the Taliban who in 2012 shot her in the head for doing so? After surviving her attack, Malala continued her activism for women’s educational rights, and received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala said, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

As writers, we know the truth and the power of those words.

Thanks for stopping by,

Deborah Epperson

250,000 small      shadows of home epperson