29 Aug 2007 02:38 pm

The Irony of Life

Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” – John Lennon

*****

I didn’t actually choose to become a writer. It chose me. It wasn’t my idea, honest. It just happened.

I don’t even like writing. I’d much rather be working with my hands… building things… fixing things. In high school I wanted to be a mechanic or a machinist. I wanted to build racing cars and hot rods. I wanted be an engineer and design fuel-injection systems and exotic sports cars.

27 T Coupe

Back then if you’d told me that someday I’d become a writer… I probably would’ve just hung myself… at the very least I might have prepared.

*****

Everything I hated in school… every subject that I did poorly in… has turned out to play a major role in how I earn a living.

schoolteacher

I hated English class and all my English teachers hated me. I’m not joking. Even if I tried to do a good job, they would rip it to shreds. I’ve never heard one positive word of encouragement come out of the mouth of an English teacher. (I’m pretty sure it was all their fault.)

If I had a writing assignment, I would turn in one paragraph. My teachers all thought I was just lazy. I never told anyone that — even to this day — I get a severe pain in my hand at the base of my thumb if I have to write more than a paragraph. I guess it’s what they call writer’s cramp. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. All I know is I became very adept at condensing everything down to one paragraph.

*****

In seventh grade they tried to teach us to type. I managed to pass the class somehow, but I refused to learn to type. Typing was for girls. I wasn’t going to become a secretary. I was going to build hot rods for Pete’s sake.

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I managed to make it through high school and college without learning to type. I always found some girl to type my papers for me. It was stupid I know. Looking back I would have done things differently.

It wasn’t until I was 25 that I taught myself to type. One day it just dawned on me that I didn’t have to endure this pain in my hand every time I needed to write something down… all I had to do was push a button.

Just push a button! It was brilliant! Why had I never thought of it before!

I kicked myself and then kicked myself again and kept kicking myself all the way down to the store where I bought a reconditioned IBM Selectric typewriter, brought it home and proceeded to teach myself how to type. It took all of two days.

Two days… and it changed my life forever.

You hear people like Dr. Phil talk about what they call “defining moments?” Well, learning to type was a defining moment in my life. Now if I could just find something to use for a noose.

************

12 Responses to “The Irony of Life”

  1. on 29 Aug 2007 at 6:44 pm 1.Chrysalis Angel said …

    No nooses, it isn’t pretty. I thought this was interesting what you said here “I’ve never heard one positive word of encouragement come out of the mouth of an English teacher.”

    How sad. That struck me that you were not given encouragement to try, try again. I believe strongly in encouraging children in positive ways. Did you know children today are taught to type as early as the second grade? I’m not sure about first, but they are taking computer courses to learn to type in second. My, how things have changed.

    Well, I’m glad you took up writing. Maybe I can get some tips from you. 🙂

  2. on 29 Aug 2007 at 10:18 pm 2.Dean said …

    Hi CA, Taking writing tips from me would probably not be a very good idea. 🙂

  3. on 31 Aug 2007 at 7:13 am 3.Chrysalis Angel said …

    chuckle..

  4. on 31 Aug 2007 at 10:01 pm 4.randolph said …

    Learning to type in 7th grade (age 13) was a bright spot in an otherwise horrid year, filled with surviving Mrs. McDougal’s 52nd year teaching English grammar (has humun civilization moved beyond burdening young minds with sentence diagramming?) and taking showers in PE with seemingly fully developed men as my voice was beginning to change (has human civilization moved beyond subjecting young males to this abuse?)

    Typing class was required, and I found myself in the center of a class full of girls during the mini-skirt crazed 60’s. I didn’t do well in English or PE … but typing was fun. The teacher drilled us using a metronome to keep time (striking one key at each of its clicks), which turned out to be a very effective way to gradually increase speed. It took me more than two days to learn to type, though. There were other things going on in class.

    Randolph

  5. on 01 Sep 2007 at 6:06 am 5.Chrysalis Angel said …

    Randolph, sounds like it wasn’t all bad thanks to the 60’s stylish fashions.hehe

    Kids get to learn to type faster in a much more fun filled way today. They actually use computer games now and they love it! It’s the best place to be come June(other than out of school), as it’s fully air conditioned in the computer lab!:)

    PE, sadly, is still the torture. I never did understand that, and I disagree with the whole thing. I’m with you on that!

    Hello Dean, sorry to take up so much space on your site. He made me snicker a little with the “there were other things going on in class.”

  6. on 01 Sep 2007 at 12:06 pm 6.Dean said …

    Next to Recess, PE was my favorite class. We got to play soccer, flag football, volleyball, dodgeball… gotta love dodgeball! 🙂

  7. on 01 Sep 2007 at 10:30 pm 7.jmb said …

    I can relate to this post Dean. Well not that I’m a writer but I always had a hard time with writing for English class. I had no trouble being a reader and never have, but writing was painful. Then I was the science type and pharmacy suited me just fine.
    The computer became the thing that freed me to write. I keep changing everything all the time so it is essential for me to be able to delete and move stuff around.
    I’m still not a brilliant writer but more comfortable since I started blogging. Not that I write anything very interesting but I do write regularly now.

    You said you wrote a book so I guess you did manage to master the art of writing.
    regards
    jmb

  8. on 03 Sep 2007 at 4:29 pm 8.Chrysalis Angel said …

    I was referring to his distress of group showers. What is with that anyway? Partitions can’t cost them that much, can it?

  9. on 03 Sep 2007 at 11:04 pm 9.Dean said …

    jmb: The computer was the next step (or defining moment) on my journey into writing. It changed everything… as did the Internet… but it was finally learning to type that was the ultimate turning point for me.

    Of course, I would hate to go back to the typewriter now.

    Angel: Oh, I thought you guys didn’t like PE class. I’ve heard other people express that they didn’t like the group showers in school. That never bothered me.

  10. on 08 Sep 2007 at 8:52 am 10.Ben USN (Ret) said …

    Hi Dean.
    You remember Harry Morgan in Dragnet?
    Well, I type like he did in the show.
    I am faster though. I can type around 60 words a minute, if it’s a one letter word.

    Great post! :^)

  11. on 09 Sep 2007 at 12:26 am 11.Ami said …

    I learned to type in 8th grade. It was an elective class, not required at all. I’m not sure why I took it. It might have been a second choice. Of course, now I’m so glad I had that class. I barely typed 45 wpm in class then, and now can do up to 100 words, though I average around 75.

    I, too, was never really encouraged by my english teachers. One in particular called my story about a girl on a rocket unimaginitive fluff. It might have been derivative, I’m not sure. I had loved writing it, and it came from my fantasies. I was 14. She said I shouldn’t be writing about adventures in space, but about real things. I figured I just wasn’t cut out to be a writer, then.

    Though I didn’t hate English, nor they me, I just thought I’d be doing science instead. It wasn’t until a creative writing class in college, taken after scribbling much bad poetry all over my calculus worksheets, that I realized this was ‘my calling’. I loved it. People loved what I wrote and class members told me I should be doing it. The teacher still wasn’t enthusiastic, though.

    Ah well.

  12. on 09 Sep 2007 at 11:05 pm 12.Dean said …

    Hey Ben: Yeah, I remember Harry Morgan’s hunt and peck method. 🙂

    Hey Ami: I’m starting to wonder how many other writers faced similar experiences with their teachers growing up.

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