Monday, May 4, 2009

For the Hyphen Impaired

I am hyphen impaired. Hello, my name is Kiersten, and I am hyphen impaired. (Hi Kiersten!) I constantly have problems with knowing the appropriate times to include a hyphen in a compound word. Like post discharge. Or prework. Or low-molecular-weight heparin (that's a trick one b/c it uses an en dash, which blogger doesn't provide so you'll have to use your imagination). Despite my enormous progress as a medical editor over the five and a half years that I've been at this job, any use or even implication of a hyphen is cause for self-doubt and a deep consultation with my best-friend, Webster, and his long-time companion AMA (as in style guide). And then, I call my boss. Or wing it.

I don't really wing it.

OK - maybe sometimes.

Lately this disease has spread to my general typing capabilities. I've preferred typing to writing ever since I got the hang of it in my ninth-grade typing class (like they give that any more in high schools) where it was a hot day indeed when you got to use the electric typewriter. The advent of computer technology endeared me even more to the keyboard as the beautiful DELETE button (or dell-it as I've thought of it for many years thanks to my friend Barbara's husband Tony) made erasing errors much easier than using a messy white-out typewriter ribbon. See, I think faster than I can write and so I instinctively clutch my pen very tightly (hence the writing callus long adorning my fingers) as I strain to get words down before new ones crowd them out of my brain. Using a keyboard makes the process of transferring thought to text much easier and mistakes a quick, clean breath away from extinction.

But recently, my fingers have become clumsy and I find myself typing "work" when I mean "word" and leaving "he" in a paragraph instead of "his" and not even noticing the difference through six or seven edits (this happened last night). Sometimes, it's just because my fingers aren't placed properly on my keyboard. Occasionally, it's simply that my keystroke hasn't be firm enough to register on the tiles. Often, it's only that my brain is off in some different direction. Slightly impaired again.

Which sort of explains the delay since my last, hasty post. I could attribute my lack of productivity to the Easter holiday (true), my sister's extended visit from Arizona during said holiday (still true), the newest unexpected hospital stay for my mother (holding steady on the truth meter), or the increased volume and velocity of work at my office (ding, ding, ding!). But mainly it's because all that's made me a little more than simply hyphen-impaired.

I made progress in the word count this weekend, spurred on my the truly excellent people at Liberty States Fiction Writers, and as spring eases out to an early summer and flowers erupt simply everywhere I look, I'm looking at four weeks till a southwest vacation and have a list of things I want to post about.

Good times are on their way. My plan is to share them here.

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