Moving Forward without Looking for the Backspace

If you had to guess that the three most used keys on a keyboard were, what would you say? The space bar seems obvious, and that’s number one. In second place and somewhat surprising is the “e” key. The bronze medal position is awarded to Mr. “Backspace.”

Writing without the first two keys seems inherently impossible. Even words “need their space” from time to time, and Wheel of Fortune taught us all from a young age that vowels need to be bought, presumably because they are higher in value. But what about that pesky “backspace” button?  

Have you ever tried to write something without hitting “backspace”? It sounds simple enough at first, but you quickly realize all of the inaccuracies and unfleshedout thoughts that arise from our unedited brains. It is the digital cover up for typos, missed capitalization, word choice, change of heart, or that pesky space bar that you’ve spilled coffee on too many times to count not working. If you’ve ever tried writing without using it, how far did you get? I’ll be honest: I didn’t get more than ten words into this.

If my life for the past six months had been in written form, my backspace button would certainly look like a boxer after going twelve rounds. It’s been a humbling half year since COVID-19 has nearly KO-d the world.

I’m now unemployed, joining the many who have seen what they used to do affected by a situation beyond our control. I’m also now self-employed, though self and unemployed more and more seem synonymous. Going the freelance route and becoming fully self-employed is certainly uncomfortable – but then again, what new endeavor is? It’s human nature to simultaneously desire life inside the comfort zone while at the same time striving to challenge yourself to do things you always wanted to. When those opportunities occur without the safety net we’re generally accustomed to, our nature spars with our ambition in a fairly heavyweight tilt.  

And that’s what the backspace button is, really: a safety net. We can have diarrhea of the fingers (Twitter character limits be damned) without consequence. Autocorrect changed “castle” to “casket”? There’s time to fix that “mortifying” error (so sorry for that one). With my real-life safety net suddenly having massive holes everywhere and Google Docs not proposing any suggested patches, I’ve been thrust into full control of the vision I’ve always had for my life. And that’s something terrifying. 

The grass isn’t always grass, as they say. For the past two years or so I’ve told myself I wanted to reduce my teaching load and increase my creative endeavors. More writing, producing, and working with other creative people on collaborations. That’s where I thrive and where my passion lies; it’s clear that’s also why I love teaching because I’m able to exercise those desires. 

With teaching taken away from me, I’m at the climax of my own choose your own adventure where dreams end and reality begins. And with the creative market not necessarily carrying the reputation of being fiscally generous, it’s less the end of Shawshank, more the beginning of The Stand, for those Stephen King fans. 

But like Frannie, Stu Redmand, Larry Underwood and the gang, I press on. I’m committed to starting those creative endeavors and collaborating with other passionate people. If you’re into creative writing, storytelling, podcasting, editing, or want to start something new, reach out! Let’s put something together. 

The world has battered and bruised our backspace button, and perhaps that’s a blessing in disguise. We need to commit to what we put on the document. We can’t delete it, and we shouldn’t be afraid of what story we might write. The only option is to go for it, typos be damned. 

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