Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hunt and Peck

You all know I’m as old as dirt, and this post will prove it. When I was growing up in the Dark Ages, the only job opportunities available for young women seemed to be as teachers, nurses or secretaries. I once actually interviewed at a large insurance company where I was told I was too blond and too pretty to get the job. Yes! Retroactive lawsuit, anyone? But I’m sure the statute of limitations is long over. Flattering yet frustrating, they did not think I’d make a credible witness in court. I wound up taking a quickie exam and began my career as a second grade teacher in a slum school in NYC.

I had assiduously avoided learning how to type all through high school and college. Typing was only offered to those in the “Commercial Course” anyway. My father nagged and nagged me to take typing at night school to have “something to fall back on when your husband leaves you.” Yes! Retroactive therapy, anyone? But I’m used to my craziness and would miss it if I were cured. I did sign up for typing in adult ed with my college boyfriend, but we left at the break to go make out. I guess that’s “hook up” now. So I’m a typing class drop-out.

Computers have vastly improved my secretarial skills, such as they are, but home row and I are not friends. Although I use most of my digits, they do not go where the Typing Master intended. I can’t believe I’ve written close to three-quarters of a million words these past few years primarily with two fingers.

Several years ago my PC died and I wound up starting Third-Rate Romance in longhand on a yellow legal pad. I didn’t type it up for ages, mostly because I could not read what I wrote. I find I actually think better typing, which makes no sense at all, but there it is. In order to write, I have to be sitting at my crowded little desk in my crowded little room. In order to read, I have to be lying down on a bed, hurting my middle-aged elbows…or in a chaise by a pool or in my Adirondack chair in the garden. No planes, trains or automobiles.

Sometimes I wonder if I’d achieve more success if I could type faster, but then I remind myself my husband hasn’t left me yet. There’s still time to learn to type. How about you? Quill or computer? Where do you get cozy to read?


Terri Osburn said...

I'm almost positive my decision to take typing Sr year as a throw away class was the best decision I've ever made. I have never had a job where I didn't need typing skills and it would drive me crazy to peck away.

I did work with an older gentleman back in Arkansas who was so set in his old ways, he refused to use anything but an antique manual typewriter. We always knew when Harold was in because you could hear him pecking away (loudly) on that old typewriter. My understanding is he finally caved about two years ago and now uses a computer.

I could never write a book long hand. I hate my handwriting. But I find if I get the urge to sit down and make an outline of sorts or list plot points for the book, I prefer to do it on a notepad. I'm a walking cunundrum I suppose.

And that "too blond and too pretty" thing happened to me except I lost out on the interview because I WAS NOT blond and pretty. Man, was I mad. But that's Nashville for you...

Anonymous said...

LOL, Maggie! We must be of a similar age. My father's words were a bit more subtle, but the reasoning was the same as yours. He made me take typing AND shorthand because, "You never know when you may have to support yourself." Do you think we can get a group rate on that therapy? :-)

Although I've never used my shorthand (Dear Sir: Regarding your letter of the 11th....) I must admit, typing is much faster than longhand. Thanks, Dad!

Tiffany Clare said...

I took typing in highschool. Best thing I ever did. I type crazy fast, with minimal mistakes (shut up terri) about 70 wpm...maybe a bit more. I don't know how I would feel about typing two handed. But ton's of people do it...but then I would have to focus on the keyboard when I like to look around me and do typing and another thing on the side.
I cannot write actually hurts after a while. And my writing is ineligible. trust me, it's worse than a doctors, unless I want to write really really slowly.

BernardL said...

I'm with you. I think better when I type. I two fingered it through college; and then decades later, I learned to type from that kid's program where bugs hit the windshield of a car everytime you type a wrong letter. :) I only write vague outline notes on legal pads now when I'm somewhere I can't type.

Hellie Sinclair said...

*LOL* We *had* to take the freaking typing class. Awful, awful. She'd call out letters and we'd have to type them over and over. alalalalal...blah, blah, blah. I never thought I'd get it--let alone do it "fast"--and all I have to say is THANK GOD for word processing and the ability the computer has to autocorrect. Most of the time.

I prefer to type...but late at night, if I don't want to bring out the laptop (and then turn it back off again!)--I'll bring out a pen & paper. I'm not wild about my handwriting, but it's doable. I get tired of it though...and find myself jotting pieces of sentences and "ideas" of what needs to go in the chapter when I get back to "real writing", i.e. MY KEYBOARD.

I prefer to do poetry by hand rather than keyboard...though when I'm at my computer, it's easier to do the word search at RhymeZone...but otherwise, pen & paper!

Atherley said...

I can write notes/scenes/chapter drafts/whatever on a legal pad OR on a computer, though I love the ability to edit or rewrite as I type on a computer.

Can you imagine what a 20th century newsroom must have sounded like, with all those typewriters going at the same time?

Janga said...

If you type with two fingers, Maggie, you are twice as good a typist as I am. LOL! I wrote the first draft of my dissertation typing (electric typewriter) with one finger. I'm much faster on the computer keyboard, but I still type with one finger. I also write everything in longhand first from assignment sheets for my students to more than 100,000 words on my wip (38,000 have been trashed).

My dad didn't fuss about my refusal to take typing. I also refused to take Home Economics. I was a feminist before the revolution. :) Daddy was relieved though that I proved practical enough to get my teacher certification. "Teachers will always be needed," he said repeatedly.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Janga, I took home ec in eighth grade. I cheated and had my mom help sew the dress that was the final exam...I mean, I'd picked a pattern with pintucks and pleats and a material belt...was I insane? It was pink, too. Blech.

Anne, Bernard and Hellion, even though I carry around a little notebook for when I get "inspired," I can't really understand what I write down. I really do think better without a pen in my hand, LOL.

Tiff and Terrio, I'm insanely jealous of your skill. I once applied for a job and only scored "average" on the typing test...which wasn't enough...but I was THRILLED!

Anon, I took notes in college w/ my own shorthand, which mostly consisted of leaving out vwls.

Gillian Layne said...

I love to work by pen, but age has caught me as well--my hands hurt. So typing is the way to get things done.

But on a good day, I'll scribble out four or five pages of notes at lunch. My "best" ideas always come when I should be concentrating on the day job, of course.

Terri Osburn said...

I'm still trying to catch my breath from Tiff typing the words "with minimal mistakes" and then going on to call her writing "ineligible". LOL! I kid because I care!

Janga - With your eloquence, you can type with your toes and we don't care as long as you type. *g*

Maggie - You were just ahead of your time. You were texting before they invented it! LOL!

Ericka Scott said...

It all depends (don't you just love that answer)...

In order to outline, it all has to be done longhand in my notebook. There's something very intimate about it.

When the words/thoughts are coming fast and furious, typing is the way for me to go. Most editing is also done on the computer (mostly just to save paper).

If I get stuck...I'm back to long hand...

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Ericka, I'm surprised so many of you are "hands-on." And you outline! I need to be more organized, altho I could never be the sticky-on-the-grid kind of writer just because my ideas come at such inconvenient intervals. Not at lunch, Gillian, but I dream about stuff and then have to write down things in the dark. And Terrio, the buttons on my cell are just to teeny (or my fingers are too fat) for me to ever text for real!

pjpuppymom said...

My dad was a bit more enlightened. He encouraged me to take one semester of typing in tenth grade so I wouldn't have to pay someone to type my college papers. Best class I ever took. Like Tiff, I'm a fast typist with minimal mistakes and that skill has helped me in every career position I've held, even when I had my own secretary to do typing for me. Fortunately, I also have excellent handwriting (thanks to my first and second grade teachers) so I can actually read what I've written when I'm taking notes in meetings, which I seem to be doing a lot of these days.

Janga, I took Home Ec in 8th grade. It was required. I was bored to tears. I still can't sew. lol Funny thing is, for some reason I kept that Home Ec textbook and I was looking through it the other day while cleaning out a closet. Feminists would have a field day with it. It was so obviously written in the 50's!

Elyssa Papa said...

Oh, I decided at a very young age that I would never learn to cook b/c I was determined to not be the typical female.

Fast forward fifteen years and me struggling over a stove, wondering how I burnt pasta. LOL

I can type pretty fast, but I can't do shorthand. For me, it depends - I do most of my writing on the computer and after reading TRR, I have nightmares where my computer will freeze and I'll have a Kelly-like panic! But sometimes, I'll get ideas in the weirdest of places or right as I'm just about to go to sleep for a scene that just won't leave my head until I write it down.