The Pen that Broke the Camels Back

There’s something to say about being so incredibly reliant on a piece of equipment in order to do ones work. A Painter needs a paintbrush and paint. A baker needs an oven and a bowl to mix ingredients. A digital artist depends on her Tablet and Pen. I’m obviously the last of these three.

Yesterday I had the hellish experience of getting all set up *finally* for another long evening of streaming, tweets sent out, facebook post made, other social media call outs to let people know that things were up and running. My stream had gone live and there I sat, with Mister Mac the corgi on my lap, trying to create art for my new business cards that I’d like to have done before GenCon. The pen to my tablet had been acting sort of jenky over the last few days and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. Drivers were all installed and doing what they should. I tried the whole turn it off turn it on again thing thinking it was maybe something on the screens end. Nothing was working. It wasn’t responding and the pressure sensitivity had gone out the window.

Doing what I thought was the smart thing, I set Mac on the floor, and went into a well lit room to try to take a look at the pen. Maybe I could figure out what was wrong with it. I unscrewed the forward part of the pen where the little nib lives, nothing out of the ordinary there… Then noticed upon further inspection that the double click and side click buttons on the pen were also… just strange. They felt as though they had disconnected. Figuring I was being smart I took the butt end of the pen off and that’s when everything became a nightmare.

Two small springs sprang right out of the pen and onto the floor. Luckily it was linoleum and I was able to spot and pick them up again. They were…. TINY, itty bitty little things. Protruding out of the pen once the back end was off was a small circuit board and it was fascinating to look at, though unfortunately gave me no clues. There wasn’t anything that was disconnected or looked like it would lead to a short. The rest of it was still hidden in the front end of the pen.

I tried to get the back end of the pen back together and it wouldn’t go. There wasn’t a convenient slot tabbed into the cover like there seemed to be on the front where the circuit board was sitting. So try as I might over the next few minutes to get it to fit back together, it wouldn’t. In trying to remove the butt end and maybe carve a divot to make it easier to slide back on…. the entire circuit board came out…. complete with frazzled copper and metal wires smaller than most human hairs. Yes I lost my cool at this point.

((I couldn’t decide which fit me better… so you get both gifs.))


Part 2: Slowly realizing the world isn’t over.

I hadn’t realized my true reliance on this unit until I suddenly and swiftly didn’t have access to it. The rage took a while to start to cool and in that time I went to Amazon and auto-ordered a new pen complete with 1 day shipping to get it here on tuesday. A few thoughts occured to me as soon as I was done completing the order.

-The Tablet was currently dead to me, and a thing of anger and frustration because I couldn’t use it without the pen.

-My whole computer might as well have been dead to me. If I couldn’t sit at it and create art, why bother sitting at it at all?

-I couldn’t create anything. Art was lost and my brain felt like a very very dark place. Like someone had turned off all the lights and there was nothing left.

I briefly thought about pulling out a couple of paintings that I still needed to finish and hadn’t touched since the summer prior. It could be good to get back into painting over the next couple of days. Might be therapeutic even. This thought didn’t last long though. I had already packed everything up for our impending move and the thought of having to deal with unpacking anything in that moment was a very swift, “NOPE.”

Trying to push through I went to my work bag where I remembered I had a sketchbook stashed. Going Analog. I grabbed a handfull of pens and pencils not sure which I was going to want to use and cell phone in hand I retreated to my bedroom, shutting myself in with my Corgi’s and demanding there attention while I digitally searched for inspiration.

It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realize that this was the perfect opportunity to practice some anatomy. Namely hands and feet which I loath drawing. Throw them into gloves and boots and be good to go. So I drew some hands, and then some feet, and a chibi character in a corner before finally cooling off enough to draw a mad rendition of myself. It didn’t start off being me, but as is classic for any artist we sort of have a bad habit of leaking our emotions all over a page. What started off as a happy anime girl became a broody viking woman. Sometimes it’s just best to embrace what we’re feeling and release it into the page.

Not long after I had started my brooding viking page my room mate came in and rescued me from my perpetual pout with offerings of Pasta and Buffalo meat.


It might just be a piece of equipment, but it’s MY piece of equipment. It’s my way to connect and to create to people and to my imagination. There’s nothing wrong with traditional art if I choose to do it, but being “robbed” of that connection was more frightening than I’d like to admit. Needless to say I have some more practice to do before the Zombie/Technological apocalypse…


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