hand-holding for writers

Because the ways I most love to create require my hands, when my dominant hand was recently hurt, I freaked out. The problem peaked the day of a dinner hosted by a friend here in Germany. When I told the small crowd how my finger had swollen and turned purple, one of the guests, an occupational therapist, took a real interest and recommended a hand doctor she knows.

A few days later, standing at the clinic’s reception desk, I realized that though I’ve long known about foot doctors, the idea of hand doctors had never occurred to me. Something inside me got excited about that, though I didn’t yet know why.

In the hand doctor’s office, my husband and I examined beautiful, old hand-treatment illustrations and peered into glass cases at hundreds of hands of all kinds: elegant wooden hands, metal hands, silly plastic hands. Two of the office’s seating options were wooden hand chairs (sit on the palm and lean back on the fingers). Something inside me started to wake up.

As the doctor began to ask questions, he held out his hands, palms up, and I put my hands in his. With his warm hands and with the utmost respect, he calmly and gently examined my hands. While he talked about what might be going on (it looked like a blood vessel had broken and already begun to repair itself), he kept holding my hurt hand and I found myself fighting back tears.

Even when he didn’t really need to, even though I would have said I was fine without it, he held my hand. And it turns out to have made all the difference in the way I felt about that doctor, our time together, and my hand’s ability to heal.

That doctor’s visit helped me clarify my work (I’m the kind of writer and writing teacher who naturally wants to hold your hand and comfort you as you learn) and freed me to dive deeper into loving and curating the symbols I tend to collect for inspiration.


Since you’re not likely to visit me in my office, I’ll share a photo of one of the deskscapes I see as I work and how it inspires me (click the photo to enlarge it):

The blooms postcard and stones connect me to nature, genuineness, and groundedness. The pink business card from lifebyme.com, with the keys and the words “share. meaning.” remind me that sharing is key. The tiny blue vase – a gift from my mother, who got it for me in Ireland on her only trip to Europe before she died – connects me to people I love and reminds me that even when a gift seems small, it can mean a lot. The tin of cream has a shepherd logo on it that makes me laugh. The card with the typewriter that says “write your own story” reflects my desire to encourage people to write their own way. And the hand clip, which I bought a week ago in Berlin, reminds me of that doctor visit.


find your words

Writing prompts:
What kind of work do you really enjoy or would you really enjoy?
What are symbols of that work that inspire you?
What do those symbols represent to you?

share your wisdom

… in a comment below
… with a friend, client, or colleague
… in a blog post on your website
… somehow

3 comments to hand-holding for writers

  • Thank you, Carin. It was my first visit to a doctor here, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a nice surprise.

    I’ll bet you have some interesting stories to tell from your multi-cross-cultural perspective. I hope you’re thriving there in the U.S.

  • Carin

    Grace, what a lovely portrayal of your experience at the German Hand Doctor! As an immigrant to the US from Austria (Mom) and Germany (Dad), I can not help but think that given the craftsmanship and care of both areas, your Doctor was very sensitive to your dependence on your hands. I wish you a full recovery and soon and look forward to reading more of your craftsmanship with words!

  • There’s something about writing implements, too, apparently, considering what I’ve got here … like a little stick that’s been made into a pencil, and a tiny, old, fake-jewel encrusted pen. They make me glad there are so many different ways to write and still get the job done.