I haven’t “written” with pen and paper in years. I admire people who can, as their thoughts are expressed through the graceful movements of their hands. I’ve long since given up on that method. Having written almost exclusively using technology – from book to software manuals to letters to blog posts – I wholly accept that I function better with the opportunity to move words and lines of text around a page with copy & paste, insert, and delete. What can I say? While some writers literally embrace their journal and favorite pen, I embrace my keyboard shortcuts.
In the last 15 months, I have been left to improvise. Ever since my oldest daughter Ashley’s stroke, my days have been extraordinarily full. And I’ve slept in the same room with her, first in a chair in the hospital, then in a hospital bed in rehab, and now on a twin-sized bed beside hers at home. To be honest, more often than not, I’m not really sleeping much at all. I worry. I ponder. I read. And I “write.” More accurately, I “hunt and peck” my thoughts and emotions, memories and stories, using the Notes app and a single finger on the keyboard of my smartphone.
I’ve got it down to a bit of an art form, ducking under covers so that the soft glow of my phone doesn’t wake her. When she stirs – or most often whispers “hi” – I quickly drop my phone face-down on the mattress and pretend slumber until she falls back to sleep. If sleep hasn’t overtaken me while waiting, I’ll peck out a few more lines before finally succumbing to fatigue or a dearth of cogent thoughts.
But my smartphone makes a habit of ridiculing me, reminding me how foolish I am for my inability to sleep, tracking hours of phone usage, and the frequency of my disturbed sleep patterns from a tiny device strapped to my arm. It doesn’t dispense style points for my creative way of writing. It only knows to reinforce the fact that insomnia begets smartphone usage, and smartphone usage begets insomnia.
A smartphone isn’t the most efficient method for composition, better designed for eye strain than prose, but it’s all I’ve had for quite sometime. It does have the nifty built-in spellcheck, a dictionary, and Google. Internet searches can be a bit of a distraction, but can also serve as a handy tool for research, literally under the cover of darkness and a warm set of flannel sheets.
While my sleep patterns have still not become less disturbed, Ashley’s finally have after all these months. She often struggles to initially fall asleep but, many nights, she now sleeps through the night, or only awakens once or twice in need of my help. There’s now more of a pattern and predictability that allows me to come to terms with my sustained status: the twin bed, the insomnia, and the still overwhelming need to write.
Consequently, I’ve decided to attempt to create a new writing space, one that I might be able to escape to near her upstairs bedroom. Once she’s soundly asleep, I could write vertically rather than horizontally. Wouldn’t that be novel? (I swear I don’t go looking for puns. Somehow puns just find me.)
Being honest with myself, related to not only my physical circumstances but my emotional ones as well, gives me the opportunity to create solutions. And being honest with my thoughts and words may make my composition begin to appear on the page as “upright,” just as my frame will be sitting in a chair again.
Here’s to new spaces and new potential writing opportunities.
And here’s to plain ol’ hope. “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” Better yet, where there is no hope, there is no vision. And writing is, let’s face it, a hope to be seen. (And that would be a whole lot more likely if it were not from underneath the covers.)
Take that, smartphone! Your judging days may soon be over.