1StrawberriesCoverWooden-&-Me-cover-mock-upFor a Personalized Autographed copy of STRAWBERRIES IN WINTERTIME” or “WOODEN & ME” mail a check for $25 to:

Woody Woodburn

400 Roosevelt Court

Ventura, CA 93003

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Our hot-water heater burst last week and so, nearly, did I.

It was not the 50-gallon boiler that had me steamed for it was still under warranty. This was both fortunate and rare, as my experience with warranties has largely been that they expire two weeks before something breaks.

It was something else that broke – and, par for the course, no longer covered by warranty – that caused my consternation. The space bar on my computer went kaput.1keyboard

More accurately, the right five-sixths of the space bar stopped working. As a result, unless I struck the left corner perfectly mytypinglookedlikethis.

With the habit ingrained since a high school typing class of tapping the space bar dead center, suddenly mytypinghasmostlylookedlikethis.

The Band-Aid remedy has been to go back and painstakingly insert all the missing spaces while focusing my finger’s aim on the left edge of the space bar.

The real cure has proved even more time consuming. At last count, I have dropped my laptop off at the repair shop four times. And four times the fix has failed.

The initial diagnosis for an “easy fix” of solely the space bar proved wrong. Once inside, the technician discovered the entire keyboard panel needed to be replaced. A new one was ordered. I took my laptop home since a finicky space bar is better than none.

The new keyboard arrived. I dropped off my laptop. Alas, the wrong part had arrived. I retrieved my laptop while a replacement for the replacement was ordered.

A new problem. When I returned home for the third time, the screen remained black. It turns out that during the aborted procedure with the wrong part, a thingamabob was unbeknownst damaged.

And so, while my Frankenstein of a laptop await new parts and new life, this column is being composed on my cell phone. Typing a text or short email on a tiny screen is a modern convenience, but a 700-word essay seems a hassle.

And yet my irritation with the situation was short-lived.

First, I thought back to writing my first newspaper stories in college on a manual typewriter. Rewriting and editing were done with a pencil.

Next, I remembered the first laptop computer I used – a Tandy TRS-80 Model 100 sold by Radio Shack and the staple of newspapers in the early 1980s. It displayed a mere six short rows of text and the cursor moved like it had taken three Quaaludes.

By comparison, my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone is like a Tesla to a Model T.

Besides, the tools should not really matter. For example, I was once touring a golf course Greg Norman was designing. On a par-4, impromptu, he picked up a borrowed driver and hit a perfect shot onto the green.

Similarly, I’m sure a gifted violinist can make any fiddle sing, a gifted artist can create magic with any paintbrush, and so should a professional writer not need anything more than a pencil and paper.

But what really gave my mindset the reboot it needed was recalling a story a friend once shared with me. It was about a writer facing real challenges.

For starters, the writer was told time and again he couldn’t be a writer – because he was only 12 years old.

No matter the naysayers, he dedicated himself to working on a novel every day. He sometimes wrote passages in a notebook during class; often during lunchtime; always after finishing his homework at night.

Moreover, his family couldn’t afford a computer at home. Again, no matter. He wrote longhand and then typed his story in the computer lab after school.

In other words, this boy refused to be deterred by unsupportive teachers, by not having a computer, by too much homework. He made time, found his own inspiration, borrowed a computer.

I never heard if that boy ever finished his novel – and yet I know he did. I imagine he is working on his third or fifth novel by now.

Writing one column on a cell phone is duck soup. The space bar even works perfectly.

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Woody Woodburn writes a weekly column for The Ventura County Star and can be contacted at

Wooden & Me Kickstarter Front PhotoCheck out my memoir WOODEN & ME: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach and Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece” and my essay collection “Strawberries in Wintertime: Essays on Life, Love, and Laughter” …