Ode To A Keyboard

Just before Christmas, my laptop keyboard died. For months leading up to December, my ‘s’, ‘e’ and ‘r’ keys would only work once the laptop had warmed up. But when other keys suddenly stopped working altogether, I suspected the end was near.

Before breaking down and ordering a new keyboard, my computer-guy husband wanted to take one last crack at this one. He took it completely apart and individually cleaned and reset every key (let’s not talk how dirty the inside of that keyboard was, okay?).

It was two hours of patient work with tweezers and isopropyl alcohol soaked Q-tips, picking off bits and cleaning off gunk. And when it was all snapped back into place... it still didn’t work. A+ for effort, but it was still dead in the water. I ordered a new keyboard that day.

But it made me a little nostalgic. I bought this laptop with my husband’s blessing at a time when he was in school upgrading his certifications and we were running our family of four on only my income from the lab. I’d been writing for about 15 months at that point, but was starting to get really serious about it. About that time, I received a 50% off coupon from Dell. I was ready to walk away from it, but my husband wouldn’t hear of it. We weren’t really in a place to afford a luxury like a dedicated laptop for me, but he encouraged me to make the leap because he understood my need to write and wanted me to have the tools to be successful. So I bought this laptop in July 2008.

Looking back over the 3 ½ years I’ve had it, it’s been the most important possession I own, and certainly the most used. I work on it in the morning before work, on my lunch hour, after work and in the evenings. It goes back and forth to work daily, and on every car or air trip I’ve taken since its arrival. It’s even been dropped twice when my laptop bag strap snapped, and, miraculously, never blinked at the abuse.

But when I consider my writing, its importance really shines. Ann and I were still writing casually when I bought it, but over the years, it’s been a critical tool as we’ve moved from writing for us and our readers to writing with an eye towards traditional publication. I’ve logged about 700,000 words of fiction on this keyboard, not including revisions or deleted scenes and chapters. I’ve written almost a year’s worth of blog posts and just over 25,000 emails. When I look at it that way, I think it’s time for this keyboard to retire gracefully. It’s certainly served me well!

My new keyboard arrived and I installed it right away, being happy to give up the external keyboard I’d been using until it arrived (an external keyboard on a laptop makes it a LOT less portable, let me tell you). And suddenly my dependable old laptop feels brand new again.

New year, new keyboard, new opportunities. Let the fun begin! 2012 is going to be awesome!