with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Going Extinct: The Writers Bump

Did you know that the Writer’s Bump is about to become extinct? I hadn’t thought about this in years and was tickled to learn of the Writer’s Bump being threatened. And what is threatening it?

The computer, of course.

For those who don’t know (people under the age of 25), the Writer’s Bump or callous is a lump that formed on the right (or left) middle finger from hours spent scratching out words on paper with pen or pencil. Mine used to be quite prominent, with wrinkles and cracks from the years of writing, embedded with ink from caligraphy or the latest leaking pen. I swear, the moment I got a pen in my hand, I wrote. Before hitting the road, I threw out boxes upon boxes upon more boxes of crap I’d written. Everything from long to-do lists to great epic emotional rants and raves from my hormonal years.

According to a news article from AZ Central, That Writer’s “Bump” is Headed for Extinction as People Embrace Computers, the Writer’s Bump, once a symbol to all of literary effort, is heading towards the skin ailment retirement center.

A retired high school science teacher, Marigene Allison, 62, used to write by hand all of her class lectures and quizzes. She also would draft long letters by hand. Not surprisingly, she had a writer’s bump, that bulbous callus that forms on the middle finger from prolonged use of a pen or pencil.

Allison said hers stuck out beyond her knuckle to the point that people commented on it. She even recalls teachers comparing the size of their hand protrusions.

“It was a point of pride because it indicated what I did,” she said.

But today, when Allison looks down at her right middle finger, all that remains of her lump is a slightly hard area where the skin is a little bit thicker. Allison is among the many who, with the increasing use of computer keyboards, have noted a lessening of the once ubiquitous callus.

“We’re not seeing a lot of writer’s bumps because of the advent of computers and PDAs,” said Dr. Scott Herron, an orthopedic specialist in southern California. “It’s not a common complaint in our office in 2005. We haven’t seen any this year.”

The medical definition of the ailment is an “increased friction phenomenon,” due to prolonged pressure on the skin. In response to the irritation, the skin thickens and a callus develops. People who use particularly thin pens or pencils have to grasp the implement more tightly and thus are more prone to forming lumps.

Well, having battled for years with my Writer’s Bump cracking and bleeding during the winter, I’m not sad to see it go. Now, the only symbol of recognition, though, that I’m a writer is the quality of my keyboards as I test the durability of the letters across the keys.

Oh, yes, and my mouse elbow.

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