Yesterday, I went to an office supply store to make a photo copy of the copyright page of my first book. As I was leaving, I walked past a sale table and a typewriter was sitting there looking oddly out of place.
The temptation to stop, run my fingers over those keys, listen to the click, hear the carriage return was huge. I was immediately transported back to high school where I’d taken a typewriting class at age fifteen. The feel of loading a new page, watching the words magically appear, backspacing and white-out, and crumpled pages filling a wastepaper basket ran through my mind. Ah: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. How many times did I type that one?
I can still remember the teacher walking around behind us and telling us to keep our chins up, no peeking at the keys…thirty young girls in long rows, learning new skills. I tried hard to recall how many words per minute I could achieve back then. The number evaded me. While I wasn’t a very competitive kid, especially when it came to grades or playing competitive sports, typing was something I did challenge myself with. I would compete with my numbers all the time, always delighting in small successes.
At the completion of high school the school counselor advised I enter the world of the secretary. He did not envision me pursuing a university degree. Maybe a technical college, he suggested. We had a good college available in my small Australian town. Right out of high school, I was offered a job in banking using my secretarial skills and could have worked my way up within the banking system; however, I chose a career in nursing. I went on to graduate as an RN, get a post graduate degree in ICU/CCU nursing, and further my career working with some of the best heart surgeons in the US.
Why had I decided on nursing? At the tender age of seventeen I thought there was no way my restless soul could sit at a desk all day. That would be boring! Fast forward nearly fifty years and what am I doing? You got it! Yes, I’m sitting at a desk and tapping away on a keyboard and sometimes with breakneck speed, and thoroughly enjoying myself. I put in long hours too, more than the eight hours per day. But it’s different. How? Secretarial work would have belonged to someone else. I’d have been typing letters, memos, filling out paperwork. Now I’m creating whole new worlds with characters I adore, and creating choices for them that get them into hot water. Then I have to find ingenious ways for them to handle their problem, before I find yet another one to toss into their path, and every six months or so I get to do it all over again with a different setting, and different players.
It’s pure joy for this restless soul!
Who’d have thought I’d owe today’s happiness to a skill I learned at age fifteen?
What about you? Is there anything you imagined yourself never doing when you were young and have rediscovered, and now enjoy?