The following column originally appeared in the May 26 edition of The North Ridgeville Press.

Writer’s block.

Nothing is more unnerving than having that blank screen staring at you, begging to be filled with words of wisdom, humor or just plain ranting. That little flashing cursor seems to mock you as you rack your brain trying to figure out how to move it without just hitting the space bar.

Writing seems to be a scary thing for many people. It has usually come naturally to me, so I can’t understand why others would rather face an IRS audit than compose a simple sentence.

I was probably the only one in school who actually preferred essay tests over multiple guess. Even if I didn’t know the answer for sure, I was able to weave enough stuff into an answer to get partial credit – or the teacher just got tired of reading and wrote “Well done” in red pen on the top. (That red pen was the ultimate power. I used to want to be a teacher just so I could write on other people’s papers with a red pen.)

Situations in which there was no wiggle room were not a good thing. (Please. No comments about wading boots.) The assignment of a three-page paper was usually enough to make my classmates break out in a cold sweat, but for me? No sweat. I could usually come up with something twice that long. Just don’t put a math quiz in front of me. That could result in me running out of the room screaming.

The woman who cuts my hair has, admirably, gone back to school to study nursing.

“Oh, all that math!” I groaned, recalling it was the prospect of laboring through multiple number-oriented classes that deterred me from a career in medicine. (That, and the fact the sight of blood makes me queasy.) She replied that she liked the math and science, but English was the problem. This launched into an impromptu lesson on how to write a research paper, which she was more than happy to receive.

One of the reasons – other than just not being able to do something I would have to refer to as a Tweet – I probably would not take to Twitter because of the limitation of characters. Only 40 per communication? Are you kidding? It takes me that long just to figure out what I’m saying.

Of course, that’s where that bizarre language of text abbreviations comes in. I have figured out the easy ones like “lol” and “OMG,” but it’s not that easy. The instructor at a computer class I took at the local library said she once texted her niece she was going to see her “BF.” Concerned, her niece shot back “I thought you were married!” Turns out “BF” is boyfriend and “BFF” is “best friend forever.”

I feel sorry for anyone trying to learn English these days. As if it isn’t a hard enough language to master, now there are these hieroglyphics to figure out. I’ve actually seen a texting dictionary. But the good thing is you don’t really have to learn how to spell, which for lousy spellers like me is a total relief.

Where was spell-check when I needed it? But you even have to double-check that, at times, because it will overlook any word that makes sense and could lead to an embarrassing situation, like adding an extra “s” to the word “as.” If you use those abbreviations, you’re on your own.

I’ve now managed to move the little blinking cursor down the blank page. Don’t be afraid of it. Just go ahead and write. Lol cu ltr.

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