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formation of every letter, and allows the muscles, as it were, to take care of themselves. Constantly, however, he feels the necessity of mental action, and this action invariably increases the difficulty, until the very moment the attempt is made to write, the pen, actuated by the muscles of the fingers, executes such disorderly movements as to bear no analogy whatever to the words which he attempts to write.
The spasm is much worse if the patient is excited or is particularly anxious to do his best. Besides fibrillary trembling, a condition of tonic spasm seizes the thumb and flexors of the fingers. It is quite natural that the great efforts which the patient makes to relieve the fatigued muscles should affect his nerves, and the oftener he fails, the more nervous he becomes. We may safely assert that very seldom is a sufferer from writer's cramp and similar muscular affections entirely free from nervousness. There are still other groups of cases in which marked paresis or weakness of the flexors of the thumb and fingers exist. I have always noticed that all the symptoms mentioned occur only during, and shortly after, the patient has been engaged in his special act of writing, telegraphing, pianoplaying, or similar work, disappearing after a few moments' rest, to appear again on the resumption of the same action. A patient with writer's cramp may perform all other acts with the hand and arm with impunity, except writing. In many cases he can write with a pencil for a short time comparatively well, but as soon as he attempts to use the pen, his muscles do not obey his will. The same applies to all other mechanical occupations.
The telegraph operator is very often able to write or draw without the slightest difficulty, but as soon as he touches the key, he is powerless. I could mention many similar cases.
Now let us consider the theory, for it is only theory, as to the nature of this difficulty. From my point of view I divide all cases of this kind into two classes, local and central.
It is only those of the local cases that I attempt to cure. It is my first duty, consequently, to determine first the nature of the case before me. If it is a central one, I have generally found that not only the special muscles used in writing, telegraphing, etc., are
affected, but that the whole arm, very often the whole side of the body, shows a paralytic condition, generally accompanied by a sort of severe tremor or numbness. This, however, is not always so. Now, as to the local cases; generally, as I have said already, both nerves and muscles are affected.
I come now to the most critical point of this distressing disease, to the causes. They are as various, I think, as the effects. From my experience I divide the causes into three classes: (1) weakness of the nerves, (2) weakness of the muscles, and (3) weakness of both nerves and muscles.
The nervous system is so complicated and so finely organized, that it is very difficult to understand why sufferers from these troubles are able to perform their usual duties without difficulty to-day and find themselves helpless tomorrow. It is equally hard to account for the fact that some are much more disposed to contract these troubles than others. In cases of this kind, more or less disturbance of the activity of the nerves is apparent, causing in a great many cases an oversensitiveness. This I will illustrate as follows: Some patients when alone can get along with their work fairly well, but when they are conscious of observation they are more or less disturbed. The same can be said of one afflicted with any impediment of speech, or with stuttering. He will talk with much less difficulty when he is unobserved than when he is closely watched.
The second cause is weakness of the muscles. Particular muscles of the hand and arm may be constantly exercised in daily duties and become very strong, while others, through unintentional neglect, become correspondingly weak and flabby. This uneven condition will eventually produce cramps and trembling of the weak muscles, which later on will be conveyed to the stronger muscles, that should work in harmony with the weak ones.
The third cause is weakness of both nerves and muscles. These cases are by far the more numerous and, unfortunately, the more difficult ones, and require great patience and painstaking effort on my part, as well as on the part of the patients, and are due to an overworked condition of both muscles and nerves. I have
never been able to discover positively, and with perfect satisfaction to myself, which condition is primary and which secondary. Is the low condition of the nerves consequent on that of the muscles, or is the reverse the case?
Naturally, one would suppose that perfect rest would benefit these sufferers, but it seldom does. When rest is found to cure a supposed case of this kind, one can safely say that the patient was never truly affected by real writer's cramp.
The means employed in my method of treatment are very simple, consisting in massage and gymnastic exercises. To repeat what Dr. Douglass Graham says in his book "On Massage," the vaguest generalities exist as to the manner of doing massage, even among the best authors on the subject. It is no matter how precisely and carefully worded the description of it may be, it is not likely to be comprehended, unless one sees, feels, and attempts to do massage himself, and compares his efforts with those of others; for massage, though it may be studied as a science, has, like everything else in medicine and surgery, to be practiced as an art; and the same may be said of this that Dr. John Hilton said of surgery: "There is much that cannot be systematized, that cannot be conveyed from mind to mind in books and articles."
The gymnastics are active and passive motions, consisting in stretching and contracting the arm and fingers. The fundamental methods of my treatment can easily be conceived by every medical man, but it is not the same with the execution. This must be adapted to every special case. First of all, the really affected muscles must be recognized and subjected to treatment by massage and gymnastics in a special manner. To do that requires experience, accurate knowledge of the manifold appearances of the writer's cramp, and a certain natural ability.
A leading factor in the development of my method was my experience as a teacher of penmanship, especially as regards the manner of holding and guiding the pen. Both should for each individual be adapted to the individual formation of the hand and forearm, and not according to a general or normal rule. This is not only the main point, but the basis of my
treatment. Writer's cramp cannot be cured according to a general rule, or according to a specified method. No two hands are alike, and while general precepts in writing may be observed, the rules must be modified and adapted to the individual. A method must be found for the hand in question - not the reverse. Each individual hand must be studied, not only by the anatomist as to its form and the formation of all its muscles, not only by the physiologist in reference to the functions and actions of the muscles, but, above all, by the teacher of writing in reference to the special and particular way in which the individual holds his pen and writes, what muscles he prefers to make use of. No two men perform the action of writing in exactly the same manner, and writer's cramp does not affect the very same muscles with equal intensity in all cases. It needs not only a good physician, but a good and experienced teacher of writing to recognize quickly the muscles principally affected, and consequently direct the treatment where it rightly belongs. These muscles have in one sense to be taught writing over again. They must work correctly and coördinate themselves accurately in respect to this occupation alone. I have said before that the patients can perform any other work, except writing, without being seized by cramps. The affected extremity needs no general massage, nogeneral gymnastics, no general tonic treatment, because it is in nowise impaired in its general usefulness; it needs, so to say, restoration of one particular functional ability, and to do this, an adept, or expert conversant with the occupation, and capable of imparting it to others, is, above all, fitted for the task, if he combines his dexterity in that particular occupation with sufficient anatomical and physiological knowledge. Before I begin my treatment, I always examine the patient's mode and style of writing, the way he holds his pen, the position of the arm, hand, and fingers, the movements he makes, the way he has adopted in upward and downward strokes, in vertical, horizontal, or slanting directions. I study his individual method of writing, and notice all the faults in the same.
During the treatment, while the normal functions of the affected muscles are being restored, the patient receives instruction in the correct
position for holding the pen, and in the method of writing, as adapted to his individuality. I have mentioned only penmanship as an example. All other functional disturbances in the occupations of telegraphing, typewriting, piano and violin playing have to be treated exactly in the same manner. I have studied and practiced them all; I can telegraph and I play the piano and violin, I can sew and knit, and am well acquainted with all mechanical manual -occupations.
There are more patients afflicted with this complaint in the new world than in the old. America stands preeminent in every kind of work that requires manual dexterity and skill. American workmen, besides, accomplish more
in a given time than those of any other country. The high extent to which division of labor has been carried here has a good deal to do with this. The spirit of competition here is greater than anywhere else.
If one lady writes 2,000 envelopes in one day, another one immediately strives to break the record by an additional hundred. This holds good in all departments of technical labor. Untold numbers of people are affected, partially or completely, by this disease, and lose to a greater or less degree their chance for earning a livelihood. These, I maintain, can almost all be cured. Julius Wolff.
NEW YORK, N. Y.
CORRECTNESS, SNAP, AND SUCCESS.
A score and more of years of contributing ought to make it possible for a writer to throw out some hints that might prove useful to new, if not young, writers; and probably they will not feel hurt if the shoes offered fit so well that they can wear them.
Of course, to be an accepted contributor means more than appears upon the surface, and sharp eyes are needed to look beneath the top of the waters of discouragement to find the real reason why papers are so often declined, with or without thanks. Who cares to receive the printed slips that tell that the editor is grateful for the privilege of reading the rejected manuscript.
Now, what is the reason that it is returned, that is, allowing that sometimes the hopper is full, or the editorial purse low?
New writers who seize upon some passing fad, some taking item that is of interest, and can work it up to a successful point, often run right up to the top of the ladder that others are still climbing with difficulty. But it is not every one who can write an entertaining letter to a friend, who can write an article that is worth hard cash to a busy editor who has a vast
amount of material at his disposal. Natural gifts count for a great deal, but grammar and punctuation count for quite as much. How tiresome it is to be jerked back by a semi-colon when a comma (only a breath) is all that needs to find place in the lines; and how very unnecessary new writers think it is to study punctuation.
Then the articles often lack snap; they are written in a desultory, letterish style, that makes the editor weary. Editors who sit beyond the closed doors of their sanctums are not half so mean as they are thought to be. They know a desirable thing when they see it, and their fingers are so trained by experience that they can tell a good manuscript almost by touch.
But take the opinion of one who knows, if you will, for it is true: a well-written, wellpunctuated, snappy article, that does not bear the wear and tear of travel, must find a resting place when it arrives at the proper door; for even with plenty on hand, few editors will not push others aside for what pleases their taste and fancy.
ORANGE, N. J.
Marion Barton Bell.
Published monthly by The Writer Publishing Company, 282 Washington street, Rooms 9 and 10, Boston, Mass.
WILLIAM H. HILLS,
each one is arrested by another person in a steady and regular manner. This may be repeated as often as the active exercise. Massage is to be practiced daily for about twenty minutes, beginning at the periphery; percussion of the muscles is considered an essential Combined with this are part of the massage. month. peculiar lessons in pen-prehension and writing. Mr. Wolff has had great success in the treatment of writer's cramp abroad.
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(P. O. Box 1905.) VOL. VII.
The article in this number of THE WRITER on "Writer's Cramp," by Julius Wolff, a teacher of penmanship at Frankfort-on-the- Main, who is now in New York, will undoubtedly be read with special interest. Mr. Wolff's method of treatment may be described as follows: It consists of a combined employment of gymnastics and massage. The gymnastics are of two kinds: First, active, in which the patient moves the fingers, hands, forearms, and arms in ail directions possible, each muscle being made to contract from six to twelve times, with considerable force, and with a pause after each movement, the whole exercise not exceeding thirty minutes, and being repeated two or three times daily; second, passive, in which the same movements are made as in the former, except that
No one has ever yet been able to explain why it is that people who own typewriters, and use them for making manuscripts, so frequently think it necessary to write the letters to accompany them with a pen, or to sign the manuscripts with a pen-written, instead of a machinewritten, name. Every one knows, of course, that a typewritten signature to a business document or an important letter is not regarded as a signature in a court of law, and so there is a reason why important letters or contracts should be signed with a pen, but for ordinary letters - like one submitting a manuscript to an editor, for instance a typewritten signature is all right. Just as a manuscript should never be offered pen-written if typewriting is possible, so a letter sent with a manuscript should always be typewritten, if the writer possesses a machine signature and all. The reason is, of course, that the typewritten letter is more legible than one written with a pen, and in the signature especially legibility is a matter of some consequence. Even people who write a fairly legible hand often write their names soblindly that a skilful proof-reader would be puzzled to make them out. The typewriter overcomes this difficulty. Why not use it, when it is at hand?
Writing of the incomes of the professional classes in England, Price Collier in the February number of the Forum estimates that there are probably about 250 people in England who are making some kind of a living at writing novels. Of these, about fifty, with this and other work, clear more than $5,000 a year; a dozen make $10,000; and perhaps two or three, $15,000. Essayists and poets, as a rule, make nothing, and the great majority of novelists.
make nothing. Journalists of the first rank make $5,000 a year, but, except a very few editors, none reach $10,000. Journalists who are reporters or paragraphists, and do all kinds of work, make from $1,000 to $2,000 a year. It would be interesting to get authentic figures regarding the incomes of literary workers in the United States - but authentic figures of this kind have never been secured as yet. There is a sort of glittering generality, indeed, about the estimates that Mr. Collier gives.
He had been writing busily all the evening. At length he came to the last paragraph. After composing an elaborate note to the Editor, he folded his manuscript, sealed and addressed the envelope, and rang for his servant to put it in the post. This done, he "betook himself to his couch."
But the night was warm, and he could not sleep. The air seemed to be filled with voices.
Presently a woman's voice rose higher than the rest and said: " My name is Gladys, yet I am not glad. I am a heroine. My author states that I am beautiful, with a snow-white skin, ebon hair, ruby lips, and emerald eyes. I am appalled at this description, and am afraid to be alone with myself!"
Then a melancholy voice replied: "Thou art not alone, fair Gladys; for I, the heavy villain, am obliged to follow thee over the earth. grow extremely weary, yet find the pursuit not
so humiliating as that solecism which constrains me, in the last chapter, to kill myself in France by eating a poison persimmon a fruit which is not poisonous, and which does not grow in France. Ah, woe is me!"
Here a third voice cried: "Your shame is great, but scarcely equals mine. I! I use bad grammar on the very first page! I laugh 'every remark I make, or frown,' or 'storm,' or 'rage' it; but never, never simply say it, as other people do. I am 'garmented' in men's clothes; I smoke furiously, and from time to time exclaim 'By Jove!' and pull my long moustache — yet I am only an animated broomstick, and not a man."
Whereupon a small, childish voice made moan: "But my trouble is greater still; for behold in me a weird monstrosity. I am a child who never said a childish thing!"
"And we!" cried a whole chorus of voices. "Pray listen to us! From beginning to end, we have been obliged to prattle about the heroine's virtues, the villain's knavery, and the hero's love. Not a word of interest has ever passed our lips, just because we were created to help the plot along.'