That's Not Writing--That's Typing
by Tina Blue
December 31, 2000
I love to write. Writing is one of the great joys of my life. The problem is, though, that I love to write. Not to type. Not to keyboard. To write.
I am one of those people (Oh, come on--I bet a lot of you do this, too) who go into stores just to pet the writing supplies. Do you remember how exciting it was when there was an explosion just a few years ago in types of ink pens? Up until Gelly Rolls came along, gel pens were balky, and their ink was not waterproof, whereas ballpoint pens just weren't that exciting. So I did all my writing with a pencil.
I even remember being excited when disposable mechanical pencils became a reasonable replacement for the #2 yellow pencil that had to be sharpened every five minutes, until it was a mere nub.
But now there are hundreds of types of pens with different points and different inks--all waterproof, and in a dazzling array of colors. I think I own all of them!
And paper. Oh, my! How interesting paper and notebooks are these days. So many colors, so many types of bindings. There are even dark and bright colored papers, that can only be written on with special milky or metallic pens. Who wouldn't be inspired to write with such tools and such materials?
I enjoyed writing when all I had to work with was that #2 pencil, a Bic ballpoint pen, and a stack of three-ring binder paper. Now, the paper and pens are so enticing that I can barely keep myself away from them. I want to write all the time.
But I can't.
Over a month ago I began to have serious pain in my right thumb, and soon I was not even able to bend it. As it turns out, I have a condition called "trigger thumb," and it requires an operation to release the tendon. Until I can arrange the time to have that little operation, my thumb won't heal, it still can't bend, and it is quite useless. Every now and then I accidentally reach for something without remembering not to use my thumb. I believe they can hear my yelps of pain all the way into the next county.
And even after I have the surgery done, it will be at least a month before I'll be able to write again. I miss writing the way I would miss my fragrant morning coffee if I were to give it up. (I am forbidden to drink coffee, but I haven't managed to give it up yet. It's my drug of choice.)
The worst of it is, I'm not much good at composing while typing. I like to get physically into what I am writing, and composing at the keyboard is like trying to touch something through a window. It feels distant and unconnected. I can't help thinking of what Truman Capote said about the way Jack Kerouac composed On the Road: "That's not writing--that's typing.
I need my thumb, but I'm not likely to have the use of it until the end of February, or even later. Without the physicality of actually writing, I feel bereft. Oh, sure, I can compose and post articles, but it's an empty exercise. I feel as if someone else is writing them in my name.
Somehow I'm just not connected to them.
NOTE: if you want to learn about the results of my surgery, read "This Is My Brain on Drugs."