Back in high school, I was led to believe that proficiency in math and science was necessary for a successful life. A bleak future was forecast for those of us who didn’t take chemistry and algebra seriously. So imagine my surprise when I realized that the class which proved to be most important to my future success was typing.
I took typing during my junior year, I believe. 1984 or 1985, the years of big hair and parachute pants. I didn’t take a typing class because I thought I would someday want to be a writer. No, I took it because there were a lot of girls in the class. I admit it. After all, that’s the only reason most teenage males do anything. That’s one thing that doesn’t change over time.
We used electric typewriters in the class. Oh yeah, we were modern. At least we didn’t have to worry about jamming or spraining a finger while trying to push the keys of the older typewriters. Those old-time secretaries must have had some tough hands.
I was an average typist. Still am. Used a lot of wite-out. It’s interesting how the brain works. When my fingers rest on the keyboard they know exactly where to go without thinking, but if you ask me where the C or Q or any other key is I’ll have to stop and look.
Some people can type just as fast with only two fingers. Or thumbs, in the case of my son. He’s only 11 but he likes to write stories on his iPad. He only types with his thumbs but he’s probably as fast as I am, or at least close. Maybe he’s training for the teenage years, when the primary source of communication is texting.
I sometimes imagine what it must have been like to be a writer before computers. I always wanted to be a writer, but writing with a pen or pencil was always awkward and painful. Even now, I have trouble keeping a journal by hand because writing just a paragraph or two is uncomfortable.
I got my first computer around the age of 30 and began writing stories very soon after. Never really thought about it, it just happened. Before that, I hadn’t written a thing. I wonder what would have happened if I’d had a computer or a typewriter when I was a teenager. Would I have started writing then? I’m almost certain I would have.
Someday I’d like to try using an old electric typewriter like the ones we learned on in typing class. I’ll just have to make sure there’s a lot of wite-out nearby.