Monday, April 20, 2009


When I first started writing, we didn't have a computer. And since I have the handwriting of a doctor, that meant sitting down with a pad and pen was right out. There are times now when I'm revising something and I can't read my own notes, never mind an entire handwritten manuscript. Ugh. I shudder at the thought alone.

So, that left me one real option. It was less expensive than a word processor, and something to be found in the back of the hall closet.

The typewriter.

Not an electric typewriter, mind you. But the old-fashioned kind with the letters on individual thingy-ma-bobs that would strike against the black half of a spooled ribbon (I don't recall ever using the red half, and I do remember re-rolling the ribbon to get just one more use out of it. What a mess!) You know the kind, if you hit two or even three letter keys at the same time (to this day, I have a problem with hitting more than one key per letter. It's a pain,) forget it. They'd all get stuck halfway between their resting place and the paper. What a frickin' pain. And a mess. I spent an entire summer with blackened fingers. Awful.

But I still managed. I have no idea how many books I wrote on that old Smith-Corona (or whatever make it was aside from dates back to Lincoln), but there were quite a few. On onion-skin paper, which you could erase the typewriter ink from if you screwed up (and surprise, surprise, I did that a lot as well.)

However, I eventually came into the 20th century. One Christmas, my mom gave me an electric typewriter (see how she believed in me, even back then?) and I only finally got rid of it when I moved two years ago. At least, I think I got rid of it. It might be in the attic. But the ribbons became harder and harder to find and, let's face it, once I got a computer, I'd have to be silly to go back to the typewriter.

Still, there was one thing I didn't have then, that I do have now, that makes me long for that old manual typewriter sometimes.

The Internet.

When I got married and moved out of my mother's house (yes, I lived at home until I got married. Why would I have wanted to? All the freedom of living on my own, but without the hassles of rent, utilities, parking...) I bought a clunky Compaq desktop. And my Internet? Dial-up. Paid for it based on how many minutes I'd been online. So you can imagine I kept my 'net surfing to a minimum. That lasted a few years but then...

I stopped being so cheap and subscribed to a DSL connection.

And then I discovered just how easily I could be distracted. And the less a story cooperated, the easier it was to become distracted. I have to confess that, while the Internet is an infinite fount of research info, it can also steal time from me in some rotten ways. It all starts innocently enough - looking this up, or trying to find a picture of 19th century cuff links, or whatever. Next thing you know, I've spent an hour on Absolute Write, another forty minutes playing Mafia Wars on Facebook, half an hour scrolling through emails, another hour reading blogs and so on.

But the Internet isn't the only distraction. I try to have a firm policy about no one bothering me when I'm in my office. However, with young children running around, that isn't always feasible. I hate to lock the door, because then the Boy feels the need to beat the hell out of until I open it. And when I do open it, then the Girl is there. But I don't suppose I can complain - they are all pretty good about not bothering me when I'm in the middle of something.

And since they are sleeping, I should probably be writing. Maybe, after I check my email. And Facebook. And I wonder what's going on at AW.... ;p


Mary B said...

Oh, but why write when you can go check all your friends' blogs?

Yeah, I'm stuck too.

:waves hi:

Kim said...

Well, sure - I mean, you have to keep up with what everyone else is doing, right?

Ugh. I hate being stuck.

:waves back: