My Writing Tools

writing1 I’ve been writing since I was eleven years old, when I wrote my first book. I first started writing in my father’s old Air Force writing kit. I’d just replace the notebooks after I’d filled them. When I’d finish writing a story long-hand, I’d type up the final version. (I was probably the only eleven-year-old back then who had her own typewriter.)

The tools have gotten more sophisticated over the years. Being the tech geek that I am, I had one of the first home computers when they came out in the early 80’s. Back when they were still big, clunky machines that often crashed just for the heck of it. Back before the internet was widely available, when research still meant a trip to the library. Back when printing out a manuscript meant tearing each piece of paper, page by page, off one long perforated ream, after the painfully slow dot-matrix printer had finally stopped clattering.

I’ve progressed through the years all the way up to my current lightweight wireless laptop, which I love. I can take it anywhere and have all my projects with me. I no longer need to make trips to the library for research because the internet has placed the knowledge of the world at my fingertips. I have a laser printer that spits out pages faster than I can catch them.

I’m sure when the next latest and greatest appears, I’ll move on to that. But no matter what that next latest and greatest might be, I’ll start the way I’ve always started. I’ll take out my favorite pen, open my father’s writing kit, sit by a sunny window, and put pen to paper. Some things just can’t be improved upon.

7 thoughts on “My Writing Tools”

  1. Now see Deb, your story is much more interesting than mine! Okay, as long as we’re traipsing down memory lane, my first computer was the Osborne-1, a semi-portable behemoth.Osborne She’s a beaut, isn’t she? Only weighed about 50 lbs too. I used to lug it between home and work.

  2. Karen – Maple Walnut? Where did you find Maple Walnut ice cream? I haven’t had that in years. Of course I didn’t like it as a small child; it was too lumpy. But yesterday’s was only 99 cents as a nod to the local street fest by the franchise owner on the corner.

    My dad kept signing me out of typing classes because he thought that would make me a secretary. So I showed up at college majoring in journalism not knowing how to type and being expected to type up stories in class.

    Our first computer (if you can call it that) was a Kaypro. It had no memory. It had a 7 in diagonal monitor. It was purchased in 1983 for my ex’s master’s thesis which I ended up punching out (still didn’t type). Let’s see, first turn on the power, then insert boot disk (5.5 in floppies), load, remove and insert Wordperfect disk, load, remove, insert empty storage disk. Pray that nothing happened (like a power failure) and remember to “save” every 5 minutes.

    Karen and Cindy – Okay, now I feel really old as I remember taking my kids to the library when there were still paper card catalogues. I remember the day we walked in to find a sign on top of it stating that it was no longer being updated and the most up-to-date information was on the computer terminal. The kids were ecstatic but I was panic-stricken. I’m not really sure why since we had computers at home.

  3. Cindy, isn’t it a riot that now we’re the dinosaurs! For as progressive a generation as we were, I can find myself saying, “When we were kids…” And Cait will listen politely, and roll her eyes. We’ve turned into our parents! When did that happen?!

  4. When I try and tell my daughter about going to the library years ago to do research, which entailed going to the cabinet with the long pull out drawers and writing down a number on a little slip of paper with a short little pencil, then finding the right aisle of books and searching for your title, well, she just looks at me like, “Mom, I’m so sorry you lived in the dinosaur age”! Yet, it makes me wistful. I liked writing in long hand, (still do), I liked the time it took to be at the library to “look things up”, which took quite a while, usually after school and getting me home in time for dinner. I really liked reference books! Does that make me a nerd? And I adore a long, hand-written letter from someone, such a rarity, and so, so special! I like anything that slows me down, and while I know the Internet and laser printers and lightening fast technology has it’s place, I temper it with the things that bring you back to yourself…the slowness of doing things by hand. It’s good for your brain and your heart. That idyllic setting of a sunny window and an inviting chair, with pen in hand, will never go out of style. Add a cup of tea and a purring kitty and I’m there!! Thankfully, as you say, some of the simpler things in life can’t be improved upon. And that makes me smile!

  5. Deb, I started working at my father’s business when I was eleven. He didn’t know how to type so he enlisted me to do all his invoicing. Along with the $1/hr wages I earned, I got to keep the typewriter at home. At the time, I thought it was a pretty good deal!

    As for my “writing story,” it’s all about those memories that are tangled up with my dad. I was missing him today, and when I took out my writing kit and smelled its leather and canvas, it conjured those days. I’m right behind you on the 2-scooper! Maple Walnut is my drowning of choice. : )

    I think your “writing story” is about having to fight to claim yourself so that you could then go on claim your writing. Yours makes for more of the classic Hero’s Journey.

  6. Your own typewriter at 11. Well, well that is amazing. I remember a lot of broken typewriters around the various houses we lived when I was growing up that were mostly useful for boat anchors. And yes they were that heavy with bent ribbon spools and twisted keys.

    Ah yes the dot matrix which was only slightly quieter than a UPI teletype machine. Of course all the cool Apple groupies had daisy wheel printers.

    I think I envy most is that your writing history is a story unto itself where as I can’t remember a time I didn’t write but I don’t have any provenance like a family writing kit or a first book; shoot I don’t even know what happened to my high school diary or the journal of our trip to Texas in 1965.

    I think I need to drown this in an ice cream cone; a 2 scooper.

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