Okay, I admit it. I learned to type on a manual typewriter. It took a semester in high school, and we were drilled on basics such as hand positions, striking the keys just so, and erasing a mistake without tearing the paper. And there were lots of mistakes. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to graduate to an electric typewriter with a built-in eraser. That’s right–just one flick of the wrist obliterated any and every typo without erasures or holes.
But a funny thing happened after I left office jobs for a work force that didn’t include typing. I started hearing about computers and PC’s and, deciding to let the more tech savvy people handle those newfangled inventions, I eventually realized I was getting behind. Then, around the turn of the century, a relative gave my husband and me his Apple so he could upgrade. (It must have been at least five years old.) And thus began hours spent on the tutorial, which I thought I handled well until the monitor quit working.
I must have lost some interest during the time in-between monitors, plus the new one didn’t seem as clear as the other, so I found myself still using our electronic typewriter. I used the computer for typing notes and playing a golf game which let me roam into peoples’ yards, sometimes hitting into the hole from there.
As I became more serious about my writing, however, I knew I needed to learn more about our computer. After struggling for awhile, I finally managed to format about thirty pages of my second novel on our Apple, only to have it crash shortly afterward, losing all of my work. I’d opened myself up to the way of the future, only to be betrayed. We then went through the frustration of obtaining another computer for my work and my husband’s graduate school papers.
Our next computer was also used, and I didn’t like it as much as the Apple, but my only choice was to learn the whims of this stranger, which I detested. We had fights, such as when I would type several pages, only to have them rearranged by my nemesis while it was off. And why did this hunk of metal and plastic think it could tell me where to end my lines? It didn’t even follow its own guidelines for margins, which made it difficult for me to know how much space I had left on the page.
After battling this maddening, but necessary enemy for nine years, during which time I typed novels and scripts, we recently took the plunge and purchased a new, wide-screen, up-to-date (but not for long) computer. We’re still in the process of figuring it out, and with no manual or instruction sheet, once again we’re on our own. And while I’m one of the first to admit it’s easier to type on a computer than a typewriter, there are still nuances and all kinds of technicalities that drive me crazy. But, all in all, considering we’ve learned basically on our own, I think we’ve done pretty well.