Did you ever wonder how Shakespeare did it all without the help of a word processor?

I can’t even write an email without drafting it and redrafting it 12 times.

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.

Then again, maybe Shakespeare had more time to write because he didn’t need to waste so much of it rebooting his laptop.

But consider all the things he did without: the cut and paste, the thesaurus, the spellcheck, the handy tab of CliffsNotes at the ready.  That’s a lot of brilliance flowing freely without the aid of helpful tools, plus he had to come up with plots and jokes and make the words rhyme, and do most of it in iambic pentameter. It’s astonishing to think about.

He also did it all without the backspace key, but maybe striking through an unwanted phrase with an inked quill takes less time; I don’t know. What I do know is that I, for one, spend an inordinate amount of time at the backspace key. I’ve spent more time with the backspace key than I have with my husband.

The problem is, I really can’t type.

I could have added five years to my life if I had typed the thing correctly the first time.

There’s always a scene in a suspense action film where someone has to break into the control center room and hack into a random computer. The hacking part does not impress me — computer hackers are a dime a dozen.  What always blows my mind, what flattens my suspension of disbelief, is when said sleuth starts clacking all over the keyboard with no problem. Who can adapt so effortlessly to an unknown keyboard? I mean, I’ve had a new laptop for three months now, and I still can’t type the words “thank you.”  Auto-correct will eventually put me out of my misery.

I can’t type my own name, either. It always comes out “Roibn.” I have the same problem with “y9ou” and “belive.”

My mother loved to brag on me during my high school years but was sufficiently humbled when she met my typing teacher. For most people, typing was an easy course, but if I could have taken it pass-fail, I would have. Maybe it’s a matter of hand-eye coordination (even though you’re not supposed to be looking at the keyboard anyway) but I do think coordination must have a role to play. I wasn’t good at dodgeball either.

Then I graduated and moved away to a campus of higher learning, with nothing but a footlocker of clothes, my lousy typing skills, and my brand-spanking-new electric typewriter.  It’s still in the house, crammed beneath the bed in the basement. It was a top-of-the-line Corona, the color of sleek tan, and (I know I’m dating myself here), it was the gift de rigueur for college-bound students back in the day.  Half of you out there are snickering and half of you are nodding your heads. The thing that made it revolutionary was the Correct-O cartridge, which was a groundbreaking advancement for me over the bottle of Wite-Out.

Somehow, I slogged through four years clanking away with that and its redemptive cartridge, embroiled in a love-hate relationship with its ultra-sensitive electric keys, but the thing about it is, it never asked me a question I couldn’t answer.  It never blanked out on me and started updating, unprompted, with the promise of it taking only 57 minutes…56, 55, 54…

It never bossed me around.  It never changed my security questions, pretending all the while that it had not.  It never hid my files or shut down without saving my documents.  It never asked me to spend $250 on an updated office program, threatening to take all my work hostage if I didn’t. It never suddenly and completely without warning converted to dark theme/white type mode, requiring me to spend 30 minutes in anguished attempt to undo it until I finally spent another 45 minutes at the mercy of tech support.

I could go on, but I’ll stop myself there. I am indeed grateful for the advances of modern technology.  Besides, methinks I doth protest too much.