I will never do that…

I was never going to learn to type – no kidding, this was when i was growing up last century (horses and carts weren’t even invented yet, because they only came after electricity, but we had manual typewriters and iceskates, even in Western Australia).

You see, if i learned to type, i’d never escape the steno pool – in 1975, a woman with ambition did not learn to type. Being typists was something women did in droves before men learned to use computers (email happened) and made the steno pool obsolete.

Steno is short for stenographer – someone who took shorthand (a form of hieroglyphs men couldn’t read), and operated the Gestetner machine and made it spit blurry purple copies. Men didn’t know how it or typewriters worked. All that stuff was women’s work. (No, am not joking at all.)

To my disgust, when they wouldn’t let me do woodwork at school i had to learn typing instead. To my surprise, it came in very handy, as though i’d discarded my idea of being a poet, turned out being a writer was something i wasn’t going to grow out of, and of course, computers were about to change the world completely.

I also learned to sew, much against my will, forced once more to do it while the boys did woodwork or metalwork. It too turned out to be stunningly handy, and i really think everyone should learn at least to sew a button back on. Meanwhile, as electricity was introduced, along with hair-dryers, (in my early 20’s, back before there was internets), I discovered computers.

I did not want to learn computers. At all. However, there was this game. Like many people before me, i was hooked. I don’t remember the name of it, but it came on a cassette tape. Yeah, it was the Dark Ages of Computing.

By the mid-80’s things were moving much faster – and the lights no longer dimmed when the rich woman down the road started up her electric toothbrush. Though i do wonder, in these days of moar RAM than a girl can swallow comfortably, how in the name of God did i write my first book on a machine with only 20 megabytes of disk space and a RAM so low it was in triple-kilobytes? (360k i think.)

The only way to accommodate the hugeness of my average-size 125,000 word scifi fantasy – basically a small text file by today’s standards – was to split it into small enough chunks. I kept splitting it until it was loading in seconds, not minutes. Yeah, that 125,000 ended up cut down to twenty chapters that each were separate documents, so the machine didn’t choke.

I fought against learning to cook. Oh teh stupid! Cooking is a joy, a pleasure, an expression of art, sustaining and tasty all at the same time. Being able to feed oneself something fabulous (as simple as good bread), is cool. Fortunately i absorbed quite a bit from being around women cooking and then being forced to attend cooking classes at school.

I was never going to …. well, pick almost anything i said NEVER to. It seemed the Great Siamese Cat in the Sky liked to mess with my head, and if i said NEVER, it was a guarantee the thing would happen.

I was never going to self-publish. Oh har-de-freaking-har.

copyright 2011 http://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

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About stinginthetail

Australian. Female. On Twitter as @stinginthetail. I write as Polo Shawcross. 1960 vintage. Quite strange. Just published The Birthday Dragon - free sample at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/63286 in top 10 Highest Rated SFF. View all posts by stinginthetail

6 responses to “I will never do that…

  • Jean

    All I can say is…
    :D

  • Andy

    Back in the 80’s, Instead of staying on in school I attended college and completed a two year computer studies course. During the first year, instead of being allowed to self study in the one free lesson we had (they knew we’d simply go to the student bar), we were made to do a typing course. You what? We all said. Really, a typing course? Only, while we complained and complained and complained, what none of us 17 year old boys realised – not until we turned up for our very first typing lesson – was that we’d have to venture into the Secretary and Beauty department of the college (yep, back then all one). Well, we were like kids in the proverbial sweet shop, girls everywhere, and weren’t we the novelty, there weren’t many boys in that part of the college. Anyway, as it turned out, learning to touch type was one of the best skills I’ve picked up (along with being able to fold any piece of paper so that the address shows perfectly in a window envelope – about the only skill picked up during 10 years of office work…not something I put on the CV).

    • stinginthetail

      Thanks for dropping in, Andy :) i can do the window envelope fold too! Surprising thing about working in offices was how many people never figured that one out. That and how to refill the stapler – i mean, srsly, it’s not rocket science. There were about 2 guys in my typing class – they were very clued up, they both did Home Economics (Cooking) too. And no, they weren’t gay, i talked to them both about it years later, they said was great way to meet girls, and one of them realised that, so they both put in for every ‘girl’ class they could think of.

  • Derek and Kong (@derekandkong)

    I never did do that… and I wish I had.
    I’m the fastest 2 finger typist in the, um, South though but since I’m more of a formatter than a writer it’s not a huge problem. Mostly.
    Cooking’s fun. I can sew, it’s useful. I can do the window alignment paper fold. I leapt eagerly into computers only to find that they completely killed all the fun bits of my job – but at least I kept up.
    I’m 1 year younger than you :P… and it’s nice not to be dinosaurs, innit!

  • stinginthetail

    It is – surprising how many young people i know can’t really use the net at all. I’ll say, oh just google X and you can sort yr problem, and they don’t even know how to start looking.

    Btw – it’s never too late :P Free Typing Tutors – this is just a link to CNet – i tried to post Search Results and link kept breaking http://tinyurl.com/7hp6nse

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