I wonder if a copy of Microsoft Word would have made any difference in my education had there been access to a copy in the 1950s?
Like everyone else back then, I flogged an Underwood upright. It did a fine job for many of my fellow students. For me? Well, had the teacher not been so high-strung, and had I not taken advantage of her flashpoints things might have gone better.
Speed was not her concern. Perfection was. She demanded assignments be done over until they were perfect. And Moving ahead was not an option until that occurred. When I was finally twenty-five pages behind everyone else I’d given up. I knew typing career was over.
“Time is up,” she said, referring to some drill.
I had nothing to lose, so I ripped the paper from the machine rather than rolling it out.
“Get Out!” she shouted, pointing to the door as I approached her desk.
In her opinion my writing days were over. I was finished. But after enlisting in the air force and I had some change in my pocket I bought a Sears portable and taught myself what I could never learn under her critical eye. It was not easy. The typos were waiting to happen.
After receiving a positive response to a query letter to Overdrive Magazine I polished my ten-page story by pencil. Then I retyped it – with carbons – eleven times before I thought it would pass the editor’ critical eye.
In the grueling process I developed a new respect for authors like Harrison Salisbury who used a small portable for 40 years.
I sold the story.
But had Microsoft Word been available for me … well, you know the answer to that.