Writing Quirks…Yes, Quirks…I Can Live with That

January 27, 2012

As you may have guessed, even if I hadn’t told you, I’m a little bit quirky. I have little habits, little rituals…QUIRKS. I told you they’re quirks, I can live with that. So, I have these little quirks that I use for motivation, inspiration and sometimes just out of habit.

Like the fact that when I learned to type in the sixth grade, I didn’t have a computer. Okay, the truth is that when I learned to type I don’t think anyone had a computer…at least not at home, it was 1973. So let’s start again, when I learned to type I didn’t have a typewriter. I wanted to type so badly. Well, I had to learn to type, after all, how could I write if I didn’t type. Now writing wasn’t a career, because after all, I needed to get a real job and I was going to be a teacher, but I had to write, because, well…that’s what I do.

So, I signed up for a six-week typing mini course at school…yes, six weeks, that’s it…followed by six weeks of shorthand. Yes, I do have short little hands, but that wasn’t what it was about. Rent an old movie about secretaries if you don’t know what shorthand is… So I didn’t have a typewriter. (I said that already.) But, I wasn’t alone. There were many kids in the little Ohio farm town where I grew up who didn’t have typewriters at home. So the teacher gave us a cardboard typewriter keyboard to practice finger placement at home. Now I was lucky enough to have a wonderful neighbor who knew how excited I was…and happened to have a portable typewriter. (Okay, I’m getting tired of this, but if you don’t know what a typewriter looked like GOOGLE IT ALRIGHT! Really, it’s not that long ago. They still sell them…at thrift stores, but they still sell them.)

So for six weeks I had a typewriter, and when I left that typing class, I typed eighteen words a minute…there may or may not have been errors, I don’t remember. I reluctantly returned the borrowed typewriter. My mother made me. But I kept the cardboard keyboard and practiced typing on it every day. I knew I was getting faster, but without a real typewriter I didn’t know how to test myself. I wanted to be a good typist, and I would sit in my room, with my cardboard keyboard on my desk, and play “writer” as I typed on my pretend typewriter. I didn’t play “secretary,” because that would have required shorthand, and after six weeks of shorthand, well there’s a reason that half of you don’t know what it is!

So I would practice my “typing,” and I thought I was getting faster and faster. I started taking my cardboard typewriter down to the family room when I watched television. Yes, back then in the old days, there was only one television in most homes…and there was a good chance that it was black and white…and it didn’t have a remote…well, it did but I was the remote. So, I’d take my little keyboard down to the family room, and I’d start typing during the commercials. I’d try to keep up with whatever words were printed on the screen during commercials, and if there weren’t enough words then I’d try to keep up with whatever was being said.

So here’s where it gets quirky…yes, QUIRKY—not OCD, just quirky. Eventually, typing without a typewriter became a habit. I didn’t just type during commercials, sometimes I absently mindedly typed during programs or when my mother was talking in the car. Not only that, but I didn’t always have a keyboard. Yep, that’s right, I abandoned my cardboard keyboard…I may have worn it out, and I would type on my thigh or on the table… Come on, it’s not that weird. Drummers drum on the table or the back of chairs all the time.

I saved all of my babysitting money that year…and bought a real typewriter. And yes, my typing had improved immensely. I was up to forty-three words per minute…possibly with errors, I don’t remember, and of course, by this time I knew the keyboard by heart.

No one ever noticed my little “air typing” habit, well at least they didn’t say so if they did. And until today, I’ve never told anyone else except of course Hunky Hubby, because he may have figured it out on his own—I occasionally type on his leg when at the movies or in the car when we’re sitting at a stoplight. NO, IT IS NOT OCD. It’s QUIRKY…I can live with quirky. So yes, I still type without a keyboard.

And really, when I started this rant, I was going to talk about writing quirks and how occasionally I go through my old short stories and poems and read them all the way back to when I was a kid. I still have the versions that I typed on my first typewriter…yes, WAAAY back then. But, now I don’t have time to talk about that, and besides for some reason I’m a little angry, so maybe I’ll write about that next week. Maybe.

What are your writing quirks? And don’t try to tell me you don’t have any, I know you do. You do don’t you? Please, please tell me about them…

And, by the way, the last time I tested myself I typed eighty-three words a minute, one error, so my little quirk isn’t such a bad thing!



13 Responses to “Writing Quirks…Yes, Quirks…I Can Live with That”

  1. LOL! I was in love with a typewriter once. And your comment about reading through old works from childhood on pertains to me. I do that, starting with the oldest item, An Ode to My Wet Banana, a poem that was supposed to convince my mother to let me play on what is now called a Slip ‘n Slide. The paper is yellow, and the handwriting is so severe it makes me laugh.


  2. taristhread Says:

    Yes, this week in search of inspiration, I ‘visited’ some old writing. A short story called ‘Cinnamon Park’, some haiku poetry before I knew what haiku was….teen angst stories and poetry filled with heartbreak, and my first newspaper column, a parenting column for the Butterfield Express. What was I thinking? Heck, what were they thinking, they printed it!!

  3. Gillian Colbert Says:

    I too took typing classes in school. I actually love typing. The feel of my fingers flying over the keys is very cool and it makes me feel like I can keep up with my own thoughts.

    My quirk is that when I’m writing, I often close my eyes and type what I want to say. I do it most when I’m struggling to visualize a scene. I try to cancel out all external stimulus. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was a “hunt and peck” typist.

  4. taristhread Says:

    Ah Gillian, I love that….and isn’t it fabulous that you type well enough to close your eyes and visualize while you write!?! I think I may steal that from you if you don’t mind.

    • Gillian Colbert Says:

      Go ahead … it’s a unique experience. I recommend it. I feel very connected to the scene when I do it.

  5. Ramona Says:

    I don’t think I have any writing quirks. But, when I was in high school I changed the alphabet a bit. I tweeked it so no one but me and close friends would know what it said. My own code. Strange huh.

  6. taristhread Says:

    Not so strange….my friends and I did something similar..you know, just to throw our mothers off!!

  7. Quirks no, but my wife has enough for the both of us. But I can say that in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep and she just has to write something, it sounds like machine gun fire going off in the bedroom she types so fast. Well, maybe I do have a quirk, if it’s pulling the covers over my head so I don’t get shot in my sleep.

    Love forever to my quirky writer! (Not OCD.)
    Your Hunky Hubby

  8. taristhread Says:

    For those of you who haven’t met him, that’s my Hunky Hubby Paul, that I always talk about…and he may think he doesn’t have any quirks, but you can’t go through the produce department with him without him juggling every round piece of produce in the place. And did I mention that he wore a shirt that said “who farted” at our wedding reception…okay, just while he was setting up….and I know he can’t here me typing, because he’s snoring like a freight train under those covers…

    Love you honey!!!!

  9. taristhread Says:

    I really do need an editor don’t I??? I meant he can’t hear…because of the snoring of course.

  10. gloria stefani Says:

    I am old and knew you were not quirky. I typed on my legs when I sat down or anything else for years. Don’t any longer. My first job was a stenographer, so shorthand I did. Sometimes when I am writing something fast for myself, I still use shorthand. Well, maybe you might have other quirks 🙂 love you aunt g

  11. angie Says:

    Tari, this story is so sweet and nostalgia. I took shorthand and no one ever uses it :(.

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