Occupational Hazards For Writers and Publishers

I put aside another post I started this morning to write about occupational hazards faced by authors and publishers in the Internet Age. The subject came to me when I had to turn away from the screen, crying out in disgust, because I was getting so dizzy I was worried about hurling on on the keyboard (pardon the eighties-speak, dude). Since moving into my new rental, I've been trying to figure out whether it's an old problem gotten worse or just glare coming through all the windows, but I haven't had the patience yet to spend a day working in a shaded room to see if it makes a difference. Maybe tomorrow.

Visual problems are the most costly occupational hazard I've encountered in publishing because I don't have a work-around that allows me to do most of my work without staring at a computer screen. Which reminds me, I should take a crowbar to the wallet and buy a glare filter as an experiment, or maybe just a larger, brighter LCD. Or maybe a new notebook, I've never been crazy about this one and I like to blame the keyboard design for some of my spelling problems as well, but that's another post.

The more common complaints I hear from people working in publishing are related to repetitive stress injuries. Doing her first full book illustration job on a computer, my sister developed excruciating shoulder pain until she traded in her mouse on a stylus. I bought a stylus and tablet myself last winter for map drawing, but my hands are so shaky that I ended up using the mouse on the tablet instead, just to have better positioning control. I don't even know where it is at the moment, as I'm back to using a roller mouse on a tablecloth. But the tablecloth is checkered.

Going back to the early 90's, I spend three months cropping photographs in some early Photoshop variant for an educational CD I was preparing for publication. I ended up with such pain in my right shoulder that I switched over to mousing left handed and have never gone back. Now that I think about it, I did quite a bit of my translating work in the 90's left-handed in long-hand, one of the few writing related occupations where there's little advantage in typing the first draft.

But all of that is peanuts next to stress. I've been absolutely floored by things going wrong in my business from time to time, my head feels like a block of wood in a vise and the whole world looks like a conspiracy of incompetence. Since the solution or patch usually requires working online, it's fun to compound the stress with the visually inspired vertigo, and maybe mix in a little repetitive stress mouse or typing pain as well. And that doesn't even get into tongue injuries suffered by inexperienced publishers licking stamps and cheap envelope flaps.

But mind you, I'm not complaining:-)

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