A Father’s Gift
Picture By Georg Sommeregger (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I have written stories for as long as I can remember. In elementary school I wrote my own version of a soap opera starring the kids in my school. It was in script format. I was always scribbling in notebooks until my fingers cramped.
I don’t remember the year, but it was some time in middle school, maybe seventh grade, for Christmas Santa Claus brought me a Remington Typewriter, an old model not much different from the one pictured above. I already knew that Santa Claus was my dad then, but everyone at my house continued with the lie. To this day, it remains one of the best gifts I have ever received. (I think my son just heard me reading this out loud to my husband. We think he doesn’t believe in Santa any more, but if he does I just let the cat out of the bag. Wonderful.)
Today I give tribute to my dad because he saw who I was (a crazy geeky girl who wanted to write) and he found something he knew I would love. It wasn’t the latest girl fad at the time, which was probably something like platform shoes or Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans, but it was exactly what I wanted and needed.
I taught myself to type on that old machine. I found an abandoned typewriter book and did all the drills, and by the end I was self-taught 65 plus words per minute. On a typewriter. I loved the thing.
I wrote my first novel on that old typewriter. In high school I wrote a book called At Cross Purposes. I haven’t looked at the manuscript for years, but the gist was that a married woman went on a business trip, had a one-night fling, and it turns out her husband died in a plane crash the same night, very macabre for a 16/17 year old. I was a child of divorce, and I was intrigued by the idea of one spouse dying at the moment the other was having an affair. Now of course I’m horrified by that thought. I’m sure if I looked at it now, the writing would be atrocious and very juvenile, but I still remember the book.
By my second novel I was in college and I wrote Beads of Glass, about a girl growing up in the sixties who was the girl in a set of triplets with two boys, and how she was treated differently from her brothers. This book was my honors thesis for my undergraduate degree. The last time I looked at it I noticed that the narrator was obsessed with marking the passage of time in the book. (Thirty minutes later, At 12:30 p.m., etc. )
These books are as much a fabric of my own personal coming of age as high school and college. I wrote a third book just after I married my husband, about a woman who was torn between her career and wanting to stay home with her new baby. Amazingly enough, it mirrored the issues I was facing at the time. It may see the light of day in the next few years.
Lastly, No Strings Attached is out there, finding readers, slowly but surely. My husband is on his way to Las Vegas in a few weeks on a business trip, and the running joke around our house is that he’d better not be trying to live out portions of the book. Of course, my character isn’t married when she finds her romance in Vegas.
The typewriter is gone, lost in a house fire, but that doesn’t change the fact that it kicked off a dream.
So, to my dad with love — Thank you for buying a little girl a typewriter whether it seemed like a good gift at the time or not.