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Archive for the ‘The Write Words’ Category

Here's what my old manual Remmington looked like. Someone on e-Bay wants $299 for its memories. Mine are worth a whole lot more, but I don't need to spend $299 to recall them.

 Mark Twain, according to Wikipedia, claims that he was the first important writer to present a publisher with a typewriten manuscript. It was the 1886 manuscript for “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Historian Darryl Rehr challenged the claim, claiming it was Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi” written in 1883, that was the first.

Once Upon A Time

I taught myself to type on an old Remington manual typewriter. I then got a job as a Western Union typist – I typed up telegraphs from people who called on the phone to send one. My biggest thrill was the day Tennessee Ernie Ford was on the other end of the line.

A familar happening when I typed on my old manual Remington

My typing speed went from 45 words a minute to 120 words a minute. But the job only lasted a few months before I quit to become barefoot and pregnant for what seemed like an eternity.

It was in the middle of my seven consecutive years of changing diapers that I decided I wanted to be a writer. For the next few years I banged out terrible fictional prose and dookie poetry on that old Remington. That’s how you began to be a writer.

Then I stuck into the back door of a small newspaper as a darkroom flunky, and over the next four years worked my way up to being the paper’s star reporter. I thought of myself as a cross between Lois Lane and Brenda Starr.

Eleven years later, when I was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I typed up my first story on a computer. I hated it – for all of two weeks.

At home, however, I was still typing away on that old Remington. But as the computers at work got better and better, I finally gave up my Remington for a home computer. I don’t question that the writing was easier and faster, but to this day, I still miss my old Remington.

Remember changing out typewriter ribbons, and making carbon copies. I suspect only those of us with more years behind us than ahead have such memories.

There was something extremely gratifying about manually slamming the carriage back at the end of each sentence. Then there was the ability to yank a piece of paper, containing nothing but meaningless dookie, out of the machine. The ritual then was to crumple it into a ball and toss the wad into a nearby waste basket.On especially bad writing days, the basket would be overflowing and the area around it a jungle of paper balls.

One simple does not get the same physical release of frustration from merely using a finger to hit the delete button.

The truth is however, that I don’t want to go back. Couldn’t even if I wanted, but it sure is nice to have memories. And that old Remington typewriter, which eventually was donated to a charity thrift store, created lots of them.

Too bad I didn’t keep it. I think I paid $7.50 for it at a garage sale in the early 1960s. I noted today that one similiar to it, if not the exact model, was listed for a $299 minimum bid on e-Bay.

Bean’s Pat: Wistfully Wandering http://tinyurl.com/836mqtu Ditto what she said. A blog for those with wanderlust in their souls. Be sure and check out her first 25 reasons, too.

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 “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: He catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” – Vita Sackville-West

The Write Word

Watching a sunrise is my idea of a good ritual to start any day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Completing the rewrite of my book, “Travels With Maggie.” was high on my list of New Year’s Resolutions, yet I procrastinated doing it for the entire month of January.

February has been better because I finally turned on the light bulb in my brain and then took some advice from a famous dancer.

It dawned on me that the way I got through NANO (writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days) was by making it the No. 1 activity of my days, which have always been filled with many eggs to crack and enjoy. So, I decided “Travels With Maggie” would be my No. 1 priority.

Any sunset is the perfect time for the ritual of counting the day's blessings. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Then I started reading Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit,” in which she talks about the importance of ritual as a way to make sure she went to the gym daily so as to keep her body in shape for dancing. It’s the same, I thought, for writers. We must exercise our writing fingers and minds daily for the most benefits.

Twyla’s ritual was the taxi cab ride she took to the gym. She knew that once she got to the gym, she would both exercise and enjoy it.

“Some people might say,” Twyla wrote, “that simply stumbling out of bed and getting into a taxicab hardly rates the honorific ritual that anyone can perform. I disagree. First steps are hard; it’s no one’s idea of fun to wake up in the dark every day and haul one’s tired body to the gym … but the quasi–religious power I attach to this ritual keeps me from rolling over and going back to sleep.”

After reading that, I decided I needed my own ritual. I made it the simple one of  setting my alarm clock to signal the end of the writing time I had promised myself.

Believe it or not it worked yesterday when I woke up in the mood to do anything but write.  Just set the alarm clock, I told myself. And I did. And I wrote.

Bean’s Pat: Writing Though Life http://tinyurl.com/7r4wmez This is a great blog for anyone writing a memoir, keeping a journal or even just blogging regularly.

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“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” – Richard Wright

The Write Words

While I want my words to stand out like the red leaves on the tree I can see outside my RV window, too often I feel they read like one of the tiny green ones hiding in the background. It's call writer's angst. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Angst and doubt about one’s ability are part of a writer’s world, at least the ones I know. We worry that the words we put out to the world aren’t good enough. And unlike the carpenter who can redo the lopsided chair he built before anyone sits on it, we writers can’t take back our words once we’ve sent them out into the world.

This past week I wrote about Custer State Park, but in a photo caption written during a brain fart, I called it Custard State Park. I later corrected the error but not until after it had been sent out to over a 100 readers.

That kind of thing is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Self-doubt begins to seep into our psyches because we can’t write as well as Isabelle Allende or Maya Angelou; and our words fall short of a Pulitzer or an Agatha.

So why do we still do it?

I don’t know about other writers, but I suspect their reasons are the same as mine: Writing is as much a part of me as breathing; I simply can’t not write.

But some days the self-flagellation is more demanding than others in questioning if what we write is good enough.

An award that brightened my writing day.

I’ve been in that state lately, which made this morning’s recognition by a fellow writer, who gave me a “One Lovely Blog Award,” so meaningful. My writing spirit was warmly hugged by the compliment that accompanied the honor: “I cannot get over this woman and the beauty and peace she brings into my life through her photos and her posts,” http://tinyurl.com/6og645n 4amWriter wrote.

Knowing that perhaps I’ve touched one life has erased my writer’s angst – for today only of course.

As a way of passing along the award to other writers, beginning today, I’m going to put a post script to my daily blogs naming my choice for blog of the day. To make it fun, I’ll call it Bean’s Pat. I’ll award it to the blogger who either makes me laugh, cry, remember, think or be awed by beauty or nature.

Perhaps you’ll want to nominate some blogs you think deserve the honor. I’ll read them as I drink my morning two cups of cream-laced coffee.

Bean’s Pat: The Fairy Tale Asylum: So Many Names Hanging in the Dark …  http://tinyurl.com/7kfnz7q This emotional blog reminded me of my brother, Richard, who was the best of us four siblings. He died at the age of 35 of AIDS.

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