The Compliant Writer

It pays to do what the doctors tell you to do. I had two interesting examples of compliant/noncompliant patients in my late parents. My mother had an extraordinary capacity to tolerate pain. This is not to say she wasn’t miserable after she broke her hip or after she had her knee replaced, but she was able to push through because she focused on what was necessary to achieve a positive outcome. That’s why the doctors agreed to give her the knee replacement when she was over the age of 80. She sailed through the horrific physical therapy because she knew she wanted to travel again.

And she did. She traveled with my father, with the family, and even with me alone. Our last Thanksgiving as a family, was in Florence. Neither of my parents walked the way they had when they were younger, but they were still getting around.

Mom’s willingness to push made her a good example of positive compliance. My dad was a different story. In the last year of his life, he had a routine involving various lung treatments that he had to perform multiple times every day. This routine was time-consuming and boring. He complained about it. But he complied, largely because he took the time to arrange an environment in which his compliance was as pleasant as possible.

What does this have to do with being a writer? Much more than you’d think… I’m dictating this blog post using a hands-free dictation program. It’s a slow slog of a process. Slow slog appeared as low log. But the little glitches are the least of my problems. While I’m training the program to recognize my voice and pronunciation, I have to train myself to resist the keyboard and only use it to fix problems after the basic draft is done.

My compliance with this new protocol is pretty good, but not perfect. I’m trying to focus, as my mom did, on the relatively near future when I’ll be banging away on my computer keyboard without hesitation or pain. It’s the promise of a positive future that pushes me on. But somewhere, in the back of my mind, is a little of my father’s resistance too imposing a new and uncomfortable routine on my writing.

So now, I’m thinking about how I can make this more fun, more comfortable, or just less tedious. Not sure how to do that yet. My dad arranged the equipment–which included a vest to massage his lungs and various inhalers–around his big comfortable chair, his TV for ballgames, and stacks of books. He also hung a photo with me with a big smile right in the middle of his “therapy space.”

Maybe I should take a hint from Dad and make my desk more cheerful?

An entertaining corner of my work space, with Poe, a werewolf, Dracula, and me!


  1. Pat

    I love your happy desk space with vampires and ravens and Edgar Allan Poe. “Hands free dictation” is great. Reminds me of the days when managers had staff who magically transformed their verbal ideas into actual documents. Is there another kind of dictation that isn’t hands free? Glad to see that you are recuperating well. Your parents were good role models.

    • Candy Korman

      I think the non-hands free dictation exists only in my imagination. It’s a program that reads sign language, hand signals, or lips. It’s something I’d like to use in a story one time. LOL… I’m typing this with both hands! OK for limited times, but still not up to speed.