Thursday, May 19, 2011

Letter to a First Love

Dear SC:

Surprise! I know it's probably weird hearing from me after all these years. But the other day I was on the internet and your picture came up on a Google search and all of these memories overwhelmed me and, well, I just had to write.

Remember the day we met? High school graduation, June1973. I knew from the moment I opened that big, black Smith Corona carrying case and saw you for the first time--sleek, blue, and ready to qwerty--that  you and I were going to do great things together.

Sure, you were a bit heavy and, true, a lot of writers would have preferred an electric. But you seemed to know, somehow, that I wasn't like other writers--probably because you found out, first hand, that my writing sucked. LOL!

But you stuck with me through college, waited patiently for me to return from overseas, and then came all the way out from Ohio to join me in San Francisco. I couldn't wait to get my hands on you. The Great American Novel awaited our combined talents.

You were so kind not to tell me how truly awful that first novel was. Supportive, too, through all those query letters to agents and all the follow-up letters thanking them for their consideration of my manuscript and apologizing that it did not meet their needs at this time. So many of those letters! I tried not to let it bother me, but I admit I sometimes took out my frustration on you. I still cringe when I think of the night I  picked you up and nearly threw through the window at a passing cable car. That must have been terrifying for you. I'm sorry.

Actually, SC, the real reason I'm writing is to explain why there came that awful day when I couldn't bring myself to open your case, place you gently on the rickety table next to the bay window, and stare at you for hours. I let you think that I was working late, building my career. Oh, I was at work all right. But the fact is that I was staying late to write my novel... on the office IBM Selectric. It was wrong of me, I know. And I know I was in way over my head: Those suckers cost about $600, which was a ton of money back then. But I simply couldn't resist the auto-correct, the limited memory, the magical font ball. An office fling. It was cliche. It was shameful. I'm sorry.

I guess you could say I've had problems with commitment. After Selectric, I had a fling with Kaypro until the operating system went obsolete about five minutes after we'd met. There was Apple II, until I thought I'd discovered my lifelong writing partner in Macintosh. But then I met Toshiba, a laptop with the siren song of writing in the Great Outdoors. I fell hard. It's a sickness, I know. With each new partner, each new bell and whistle, I was convinced that novel would simply take shape, practically write itself. It didn't.

I've been with Dell for quite a few years now, and finally realized the dream that you and I worked toward all those many years ago. But here's the thing: Dell tends to get a bit restless and insists on taking me me places that working writers should best avoid: Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, LinkedIn. (And I keep hearing about this place called Farmville.)

Will you feel terribly awkward if I say that I miss you? But I do. I miss your nonelectric ways. I miss the sound of your tiny hammers against paper--so much more satisfying than the geeky clacking of a computer keyboard. I miss the ritual and promise of rolling in a blank sheet of paper, of resting my fingers on your keys, of gently returning your carriage at the end of each sentence. Pure writing. No distractions.

Would you mind terribly if I tried to find you? I think it's worth another shot together. Please don't say no. I'm going to do my best to track you down... right after I check out this new MacBook Air I keep hearing so much about.

Until then,


  1. Jim, I should be writing. But I couldn't resist your letter and beloved typewriter. As to the MacBook Air -- I have one and love it. Taking it with me to Italy in June for my writing immersion in Tuscany.

    Have a wonderful weekend of writing.


  2. Brilliant (as usual)!

    I agree with Mia - time for a Mac.


  3. Mia: A MacBook Air and a writing trip to Italy? Are you trying to make me jealous? You've succeeded.

    Michele, thank you. I may soon start making my way Macward with an iPhone.