People often ask me when I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was in 1968 when I won a poetry contest at school and I had to walk across the stage and accept my award – a book.
In 1968, I lived in a 3-bedroom home with two brothers, two sisters, my parents and a dog. We had one telephone that was permanently affixed to the kitchen wall, though in the 70’s we managed to get a long cord so we could actually talk in the hallway. We had one television set in the den and we got five channels if my brother held the rabbit ears just right. I still remember the thrill of watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights, because it was in color.
We chased lightning bugs on summer evenings. It was a thrill when the ice cream truck turned down our street, ringing its bell. And an equal thrill when the mosquito truck came through, spewing its fog all over us. We were oblivious to the dangers of pesticides and SPF was a scientific term that we wouldn’t hear about for years to come.
I bought one ream of paper at a time and painstakingly drew a thin pencil line one inch from the bottom of each sheet so I’d know when to stop typing. I learned if I typed too fast, the keys would jam in the typewriter and I’d have to stop and pull each one back down.
By 1970, my parents knew I was serious about my writing career and they bought me a portable Smith Corona. This was a huge step up. It came with a carrying case so I could type anywhere. It also used a ribbon with a correction band at the bottom, so I could simply backspace over typos.
Research was done at the library; the Internet wouldn’t be available to the general public for more than twenty years, and amazon.com wouldn’t go online until 1995.
In the 70’s, I wrote when my son was in his playpen, asleep beside me. He now has children of his own. In the early 80’s, I worked the midnight shift at AT&T and wrote during the day. By then, I’d purchased my first home computer—an Apple III—followed a few years later by a Compaq Portable (which weighed about 40 pounds).
In 1984, my first book was published. Far from being the suspense/thrillers I’d written for years, it was a computer how-to book. It was followed by three more computer books and for the next decade, I churned out teaching materials for a variety of software.
I lamented to my husband once about the struggle to get my suspense/thrillers published.
“You need to be patient,” he chided me. “You want everything to happen overnight.”
“Do you realize I’ve been writing suspense/thrillers for almost 30 years?” I asked. “How long is ‘overnight’ to you?”
I’d like to think I hung in there.