I got me a netbook last week. It’s the latest “toy” I just had to have. As I set it up to do the things I wanted it to do, I started thinking about how my instruments of writing have evolved through the years. (And for those of you younger than sliced bread, believe!)
I’d like to tell you I began writing with crayons when I was four years old, but that would be a lie. Actually, as a child, I was more an actor than writer. Because I was the oldest kid on the block, I bullied the rest into playing whatever story I had for the day. I kept the characters familiar…Tarzen, cowboys and Indians, Army, etc. But I didn’t really start writing down my stories until high school when it was a requirement of the class. They were written in long hand (printed, not cursive) and no copies. If the teacher marked it up enough, you had to totally re-write. To be unblushingly vain, I usually got A+ on all my assignments.
Later, when I got to college, I had a Smith-Corona typewriter…a birthday gift from my mom who was soooo sure I was going to come out a doctor. Ha! Instead, after three pathetic years, OU suggested I go away and decide if college was a good life road for me. On my brother’s advice, I went into the Marine Corps where my writing went none existing, probably due to all the hangovers.
However, I did become a Star Trek fan in those days and once married and back in Oklahoma, a very nice lady named Karen Fleming introduced me to ST fanfiction. Then I went back into writing, hot and heavy. Again, I had my faithful SC typer, but this time I learned to ALWAYS keep a copy. Now, young padawans, there weren’t any copy places…or at least none I could afford, so I used carbon paper. Yuck! What a mess! And the copies smeared if handled too much.
Luckily, my husband “allocated” an IBM Selectric typewriter for working at home…and he let me use it. What luxury. If I made a typo, all I had to do was back up, erase it with the magical white tape, and go on. What bliss! Of course, it wasn’t perfect. When it came to self-editing, any major re-write meant you still had to re-type, but still… When it came time for the divorce, I made sure I got custody of the kids and the Selectric. I let him have his ugly recliner.
Then on a visit to my sister, I got to try out my very first PC. An Apple computer. Not only could I correct typos, I could also delete whole sections or insert them or ever…gasp!…move them around. I loved it. After a long weekend, I was totally addicted and immediately started plotting how I could get my own. Since money was always tight, I could justify the cost of a computer, but a friend recommended a Smith-Corona word processor. I checked it out and it was perfect.
Didn’t have the bells and whistles of a computer, but I could write like on the Apple, save, and print out my pages. Best of all, thanks to the insurance money I got back from putting braces on my oldest, I could afford it. I went to town and wrote my first book. Selling that sucker justified the anguish my son underwent getting his teeth straightened so his mother could buy her word processor.
Of course, the sale made it easy for me to convince myself that I HAD to have a real computer. I mean, I needed spreadsheets to keep track of sales, the Print Shop for promotion, email to stay on top of markets, didn’t I? So there came my first computer though I did abandon Apple for Windows. (Hmmm, wonder if I would do that again?) And because I was a “real” author, I had to have a laptop, right? My wonderful 386 that worked like a charm and carried like a 22# suitcase.
Since then, I’ve upgraded my PC five times and my laptop four times. And then there is my AlphaSmart…the portable word processor that let me write away from home for short trips like the doctor’s office or workshops, etc. But after ten years, my AS gave up the ghost and I decided instead of getting another, I would get my netbook.
It wordprocesses. It doubles as an eReader (replacing my eRockets), and I can also use it to Goggle research, check my email, or waste time surfin’ the ‘Net. But last week, my dad sent me a link about what’s called a “bump keyboard”. OMG! I have to have one!!!