I’m old enough that when I took typing in high school, we had only one electric typewriter for the whole class. We had to take turns practicing on it. I was thrilled—I could type seventy words a minute! And when I typed up the school newspaper to copy on the mimeograph machine, I “justified” by typing slashes at the end of each line, then retyped everything with extra spaces in each sentence.
When I graduated from college and went to work for a newspaper, we still used manual typewriters. We literally “cut” with a pair of scissors and “pasted” with glue when we needed to revise a story. I remember coming back from an evening meeting I had covered, and as I typed a few paragraphs, the copy editor would come to my desk and rip the page out of my typewriter to take it to the “backshop” to get it set so they could meet the deadline.
After a few years, the newspaper went “high-tech.” The company purchased a few computers, which resided on wheeled carts. Since there were not enough for each reporter, we had to take turns. If you were frantically writing to meet a deadline, you’d better not get up to use the bathroom or you very well could come back to find that someone had “stolen” your computer.
After the steep “learning curve,” I grew accustomed to being able to “cut and paste” and change words as I went. So much easier than the old way.
Then I left my job at the newspaper and decided to write freelance. Oh my! I had to go back to the old manual typewriter! I hadn’t realized how hard those keys were to punch. How much time it took to cut and paste with scissors and glue. And, of course, this was before e-mail, so everything had to be sent out with SASEs by snail mail.
Technology is changing the world so fast these days, I feel like I’m getting whiplash just watching the changes whiz by. But there is no way I’d ever go back to writing longhand or punching the manual, cutting and pasting the old-fashioned way.
How much have we grown to rely on technology? Just have the electricity go out some evening. What do I do now? I can’t read, I can’t use the computer, I can’t even cook!
Well, thank goodness for my iPhone.
A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.