For years leading up to the typing class, I had produced my work like Earnest Hemingway pecking two-fingered at the keyboard. I had a desk drawer full of stories and poems. But now I had a method and, as Emeril Laggasi might say, I was going to crank it up another notch.
I also asked my parents for a new electric typewriter my senior year in high school. I wanted an IBM Selectric, but I got a Smith-Cornona cartridge typewriter. . . the kind that had the correcting tape cartridge so I could white out mistakes. This was good enough for me. And this little baby followed me through college and seminary.
I also was fortunate enough to begin having some work published in high school. Small stuff really, but I thought it was grand. Poems that small magazines would publish in the margins. I think a youth magazine published one of my letters, and maybe even a short op-ed piece where I gave my opinion about some contemporary problem. At any rate, most didn't pay . . . but every now and again I would get a check in the mail. Five bucks, say, or ten. I cashed these and, as I recall, gave it all to the church thinking that God might bless me with faster fingers.
That never happened, but I did begin writing in other genres, too. And in those early days, I'd have to say that I was one heck of a letter writer. I wrote marvelous, handwritten letters to my family and friends from afar. Letters that should be preserved in the Smithsonian. They were raw and courageous. And I had not yet lost my ability to hold an ink pen and make pretty cursive letters. Becky still has many of these letters in her possession (though where, I don't know). These letters are filled with twenty-year old angst, passion, and frustration . . . the kind of stuff young writers need to begin a journey to the dark side before they stick their heads into ovens. Fortunately, Becky accepted me.
And after I had her on the chain . . . I knew there was so much more that I wanted to write.