Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Old Way of Doing Things

I started this writing thing about 18 years ago using a brand new Brother Word Processor I bought for a ridiculous amount of money. If you’re not familiar with what such a thing was, it was essentially a typewriter computer, complete with its own orange screen monitor, with no functionality beyond word processing. You could save your files on standard 3-1/2” floppy disks (single/double-sided, double density only; high density didn’t work), though once the files reached a certain size, you’d have to start a new file to continue. Since it was a typewriter, you had to buy costly ribbons to print your work, which would run out of ink without warning (you might end up with a mostly blank page), and it printed just like a typewriter as you inserted one piece of paper at a time. You could even buy different daisy wheels if you wanted additional fonts.

Someone else's Brother WP-3400
I thought that word processor was the neatest thing. If I would’ve been smarter, I would’ve used my money to buy a decent used computer, even if they were primitive at the time compared to now, since I now have useless disks of documents from that period that I can’t access. Fortunately, I did print out everything—another fun thing was going to a place like Office Depot and buying packets of high quality paper for printing and then putting the printed works in binders—so I do have these works. But I don’t have the time or patience to retype these things into modern day Word.

In a way, it’s probably good that I can’t access these works now. Putting it simply, they stink and are embarrassing to read all these years later, which is to be expected of most 19 year olds who have just begun expressing their creativity. Most of us aren’t Mozart or Carson McCullers or John Keats; if you are, congratulations, though be aware that they all died young. The rest of us need years of writing crap and living our lives before we can find our voice and craft.

That Brother Word Processor, though it’s now long gone, will always hold a special place in my memory since it was a critical part of my writing journey. It was a primitive tool in my primitive years—the first tool I purchased specifically to aid my writing ambitions. I consider the day that I bought it as the start of my writing career.

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