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  • Writer's pictureRachel Sambrooks

This is a test, a way of writing without using my hands.

I have tendinitis in my hands it is showing up as Triggerfinger. This sounds like a great name for a band but in fact it means that my ring finger on both hands seizes up and causes me some pain when I grip.

And that’s where this blog comes in. This has not been written in the conventional sense but dictated. Which has caused me some consternation. The fact is I really enjoy writing not just the imaginative side of creative writing, not just the dreaming of it and the manifestation of that on the page, but the entirety of putting pen to paper, looping cursive into some kind of interesting language and then giving it to someone to read.

I learnt to touch type in my early 20s and that is when I first started writing with earnest. Of course the dictation has written Ernest as in the Importance of Being Ernest into this line and I have had to edit that out. There are some difficulties with this process. Mostly that I’m having to repeat the words. All the time. And that I enjoy seeing the letters form before me. In fact my touch typing is fast enough for me to really savour having that thought to paper experience and often I’ll be translating what seems to be quite repetitive uses of words such as really very mostly and I leave them out. I edit as I’m writing. And I can’t do that with this.

So how can I show what it’s like to voice when I’m thinking that writing is some kind of physical experience off as I said putting pen onto paper.

The joys of searching Paperchase for the most expensive and yet smoothest writing fake Fountain pens, my favourite is turquoise or purple. And now here I am just talking to myself really in order to experience what writing could be if you removed that barrier. I don’t think it’s a barrier myself, I enjoy being quiet and scribbling away.

When I first started writing the way I scribbled was on the bus because of the inordinate amount of bus journeys I had to take. My mother lived at least an hour from Birmingham and I would get the number nine from Halesowen town centre, which in itself was a half hour journey on another bus. I enjoyed the time merely because I was writing. I don’t know what I was writing because my handwriting was a scribble at best. And then came a weeks worth of intensive touch typing learning. The way they did this back in the day is and I think the day was in the 90s, was to spend what seem like a huge amount of money at the time a couple of hundred pounds I think, on going into a typing school every day for a week or two.

This typing school was on Wood Green High Street in North London. Having come back from teaching English in Japan, the places we had to go in order to get jobs in the recession of the 90s, and unfortunately now you can’t even do that, I had moved to a shared room with my boyfriend in a house in Wood Green. Thinking I would pursue my career as an actor or writer, mainly actor at the time. I couldn’t get teaching work I couldn’t get any work and I especially couldn’t get work without any form of typing skills. So every day I walked into the typing school on the back of the High Street and spent at least seven hours listening to tapes of someone saying they are SDF. For anyone who has been a secretary you will recognise those as the home key is where you put your fingers to start typing. These single letters then turned into whole sentences and speeded me up to the point where as I left I was it 50 words a minute. Now maybe 20 years later I’m still about 60 words a minute because of the amount of typing I’ve been doing. Writing novels has become my passion, but also my downfall by the looks of it.

So here I am after all this time of enjoying the introversion that comes with writing in silence, I am now dictating. It feels weird. I’ve been a stand-up comedian, a performance poet, and an actor so I know what it’s like to speak out loud and use vocabulary to do so, but I’m at a loss as to how this correlates with my writing voice. My writing voice seems to have a very quiet will of its own, that comes out with strange phrases, that has some kind of synaesthesia that sees things I don’t see and likes to keep it quiet.

Embracing this duality in my own self I’m now faced with a dilemma of how to make the speaking me talk to the writing me, and here is my first attempt full of mistakes, boring warbling on probably, all the things I do when I speak and I don’t when I write. My writer is very sick synced (succinct thanks dictation) and I seem to be someone who likes to go on rambling 10 gentle (tangental) journeys and stories that may not even have any point at all. Entertaining myself by talking in order to figure out what I’m talking about is something that people do do do things like storytelling and a stand-up have a tendency to enjoy. as it is I now feel like I’m on an extended version of Just a minute. Except it’s not just a minute this has been about 10 minutes.

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